In the wake of the attack on Dave Chappelle at the Hollywood Bowl, many comedians have expressed concern that the troubling incident might embolden similar assaults. Kevin Hart is not among those concerned, however, as he explained during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Thursday night.
Filling in for Jimmy Kimmel, guest host Mike Birbiglia segued into discussing the attack. “The Chappelle thing was so scary, right?” he remarked, to which Hart quickly deadpanned: “Yeah. Not scary. But, alright.”
“Somebody ran on stage and got they ass whooped,” Hart clarified, smirking, after a beat. “Not scary, not scary.”
“It’s one of those things that need to happen though,” he continued, which was met with swift objection from Birbiglia. “No!” “Yes” “No!” “What do you mean, no?” “What do you mean yes?!”
“Mike, do you want people to continue to think that they can cross that line?” Hart asked, to which Birbiglia realized they were on the same page. “Well, I don’t know how you can get confused there Mike, somebody getting their ass whipped sends a message out to other people that was like, ‘You know, I was thinking about doing that, but after seeing that, I don’t really want to do that.'”
“OK, we’re saying the same thing,” interjected Birbiglia. “I’m saying it’s scary the other person attacked Dave in the first place.”
“No, I think — look, the world that we’re in right now, there’s a lot of lines that have gotten blurred, and sometimes you got to take a couple of steps backward to take some steps forward,” Hart explained. “I think that moment that we just witnessed with Dave is like fogging up a bigger moment — like Dave just made history at the Hollywood Bowl, he sold over 70,000 tickets.”
Hart continued, pointing out that Chappelle finished his set and didn’t let the incident overshadow his performance. “He quickly moved on from it and got back to doing comedy, and that’s what a professional does, ultimately, you know, these moments of unprofessionalism should not break professionals,” he said. “I think they shouldn’t shape or mold the world that we’re now being seen or viewed in. So I think it’s time to get back to a place of respect for your live entertainer.”
When asked what the worst fan interaction he had ever experienced, Hart admitted that one time someone threw a chicken wing at him on stage.
He elaborated, recalling that the relationship between comedians and hecklers used to be all in good fun, but lately some have been taking their disagreements to the extreme. “We’ve now lost sight of the relationship of the audience to comedian,” Hart continued. “And that line has gotten blurred to where, ‘I don’t need to do this and like this, and I can stand up and make a point.’ Well, it becomes a hard case of ‘Why did you come? Why did you buy a ticket?”
“So when I say we need to get back to a place of respecting the entertainer, respect the craft!” he added. “If you’re coming, come to 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.”
But if getting your ass whooped isn’t a deterrent as Hart highlighted, there are always the legal ramifications. Chappelle’s attacker, 23-year-old rapper Isaiah Lee, has been charged with four offenses including battery, possession of a weapon with intent to assault, and two other misdemeanor charges.