Howard Stern has weighed in on violence against comedians, most recently with Dave Chappelle being tackled onstage at Netflix Is a Joke comedy festival.
“This guy jumped up on stage and attacked Dave Chappelle,” Stern said on his SiriusXM talk show. “As soon as that happened, did they let him go back to his seat and laugh and sit next to his wife and then give them an award? No! They took him backstage, they broke his arms and hands so bad. They fucking beat the shit out of him.”
On May 3, Chappelle was attacked while performing at the Hollywood Bowl by a man, identified as 23-year-old Isaiah Lee. He is being held on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. Lee, an aspiring rapper called NoName Trapper, had released a 2020 song called “Dave Chappell.”
Stern compared Chappelle’s attack to Chris Rock being slapped at the Oscars by Best Actor winner Will Smith. While Smith was later banned from attending Academy Awards events for 10 years, the Academy’s decision to allow Smith to stay in the audience made headlines. Smith was allegedly consoled by Denzel Washington, Tyler Perry, and Bradley Cooper following his outburst. Rock, meanwhile, left the ceremony after presenting onstage and suffered physical injuries.
“Unlike the Academy Awards, Jamie Foxx came running out on stage and helped Dave Chappelle,” Stern continued. “At the Academy Awards, everyone came over and consoled Will Smith — because it was live television and Hollywood didn’t know what to do about Will Smith.”
He added, “Listen! You don’t treat Will Smith any different than they did the Chappelle attacker. The audience at the Oscars gave Will Smith a standing ovation after the attack, that’s the truth. It’s on film, it’s not fake news. They didn’t break Will’s hands, they shook them and it’s wrong and they all should be ashamed of themselves.”
Netflix issued a statement following the attack on Chappelle, writing, “We care deeply about the safety of creators and we strongly defend the right of stand-up comedians to perform on stage without fear of violence.” Netflix previously weathered controversy for keeping Chappelle’s special “The Closer,” which LGBTQ advocates felt contained transphobic jokes, on the streamer platform despite a staff walkout in October 2021.