As The Hollywood Reporter notes, Chappelle spoke about the incident during his set at the Comedy Store’s Belly Room on Thursday, revealing that he convinced police to allow him to speak to his alleged assailant, 23-year-old Isaiah Lee.
Chappelle asked Lee what provoked the attack, to which Lee responded by sharing the story of his grandmother, who was forced out of her Brooklyn neighborhood due to gentrification. “The attack was meant to draw attention to her plight,” Chappelle recounted (per THR). (Chappelle came under scrutiny last year after helping to nix an affordable housing plan in his hometown of Ohio).
Chappelle also said that Lee appeared to mentally ill. (Lee’s brother told Rolling Stone that Lee has been in and out of shelters for much of the last decade and also has a history of mental health issues.)
During Thursday’s set, Chappelle was joined on stage by Chris Rock, and the two comedians commiserated about both being attacked in a public setting (Rock was infamously slapped by Will Smith at the Academy Awards earlier this year).
“At least you got smacked by someone of repute!” Chappelle told Rock. “I got smacked by a homeless guy with leaves in his hair.”
“I got smacked by the softest n—- that ever rapped,” Rock jokingly responded.
On Thursday evening, Lee was formally charged with four misdemeanors: one count each of battery, possessing a deadly weapon with intent to assault, unlawfully crossing from a spectator area onto a stage at a theatrical event, and interfering with or delaying such an event with unlawful conduct.