Isaiah Lee, the Los Angeles man who allegedly attacked Dave Chappelle during the comedian’s set at Netflix Is a Joke Fest earlier this month, has revealed in a new interview that his actions were provoked by Chappelle’s jokes aimed at the LGBTQ+ community and homelessness.
“I identify as bisexual… And I wanted him to know what he said was triggering,” Lee told the New York Post from the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles, where he is currently being held on $30,000 bail. “I wanted him to know that next time, he should consider first running his material by people it could affect.”
In an interview with Rolling Stone about the incident, Lee’s brother said the 23-year-old has experienced mental health issues as houselessness for much of the past decade. “I’m also a single dad and my son is 5,” Lee, added to the Post. “It’s a struggle and I wanted Dave Chappelle to know it’s not a joke.”
Lee rushed the stage in the middle of Chappelle’s Netflix Is a Joke Fest performance, knocking the comedian backward. Police said Lee was in possession of a replica gun with a real knife inside, though it was not withdrawn during the incident. Chappelle was unharmed and continued his show after his security team apprehended Lee, who faces 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.
A few days after the attack, Chappelle revealed that he met with Lee backstage and asked him what prompted it. Lee reportedly 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 The Hollywood Reporter). Chappelle came under fire in 2021 for helping to nix an affordable housing plan in his Ohio hometown.