Kevin Hart says attack on Chappelle suspect ‘needed to happen’ to take steps forward

Actor Kevin Hart attends a special screening in New York in 2021.
Kevin Hart, above, in New York in 2021. “It’s one of those things that needed to happen, though,” Hart insisted Thursday of the altercation between Dave Chappelle’s security guards and a man who attacked the comic.
(Andy Kropa/Invision, via AP)

Fellow comedian Kevin Hart thinks the attack on Dave Chappelle’s alleged attacker at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday was “not scary” at all. In fact, the star thinks it was something that “needed to happen” given the post-Oscars slap landscape live performers are navigating these days.

“Somebody ran on stage and got they ass whooped,” the “Night School” and “Die Hart” actor said Thursday on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” after fill-in host Mike Birbiglia expressed concern about the shocking incident. Hart was referring to the man being roughed up onstage by security officials and Chappelle’s friends immediately after tackling Chappelle.


Chappelle, who had been performing during the inaugural Netflix Is a Joke Comedy Festival, was rushed by a man who allegedly jumped a barricade to get onstage. The controversial “The Closer” star later said that he “felt good my friends broke his arm” and that the man, later identified as 23-year-old Isaiah Lee, was “stomped” onstage. (Lee’s felony charges were downgraded Thursday to misdemeanor assault charges.)

“It’s one of those things that needed to happen, though,” Hart insisted Thursday, explaining, “Mike, do you want people to continue to think that they can cross that line and break the barrier between entertainer [and audience]? ... Somebody getting their ass whipped sends a message out to the other people like, you know, ‘I was thinking about doing that, but after seeing that I don’t really want to do that.’”

Hours after county prosecutors declined to file felony charges, the city attorney announced four misdemeanor counts against the suspect.

Hart also took part in the comedy festival and had to move his show at Arena from Friday to Thursday this week because the L.A. Kings made the NHL playoffs and share the venue formerly known as Staples Center. Incidentally, the comedian will co-headline a tour with fellow comic Chris Rock, who was infamously slapped at the 94th Academy Awards and was nearby on Tuesday when the attack occurred.

Hart added “a lot of lines that have gotten blurred and sometimes you got to take a couple steps backward to take some steps forward.”

“That moment that we just witnessed with Dave is like fogging up a bigger moment,” Hart said, praising Chappelle for his historic run at the Hollywood Bowl and applauding the comic for going on with the show immediately after the attack.

A number of cameras captured the moment Dave Chappelle was tackled Tuesday night at the Hollywood Bowl. Here is a reconstructed timeline of events.

“That’s what a professional does. Ultimately, these moments of improfessionalism [sic] should not break the professionals. They shouldn’t shape or mold the world that we’re now being seen or viewed in. I think it’s time to get back to a place of respect for your live entertainer,” Hart said.

Hart told Birbiglia the most unhinged moment he’s experienced onstage involved being hit by a chicken wing, a moment he still uses in his bits. He explained that comedians have always been heckled, but not necessarily bullied or picked on, and even then it’s usually done in fun.

“We’ve now lost sight of the relationship of audience to comedian,” he explained, “it becomes a hard case of ‘Why did you come? Why did you buy a ticket if that was your want or need?’... Respect the craft. If you’re coming, come and have a good time and enjoy the person that you saw. If you have no interest in that, you don’t have to buy a ticket. You don’t have to go!”