An attacker “lunged at” Dave Chappelle and sent the comedian “flying in the air” during an event at the Hollywood Bowl, according to a witness.
The 48-year-old was performing at the Los Angeles venue on Tuesday night as part of the Netflix Is A Joke festival when a man rushed on to the stage.
The incident happened as Chappelle was closing the show and thanking the comedians who had performed before him, who included Chris Rock, Leslie Jones and Jon Stewart.
The attack came after Rock was slapped by Will Smith while on stage at the Oscars, prompting some members of the comedy community to question whether it remains safe to perform publicly.
Hollywood star Jamie Foxx, a close friend of Chappelle, then came on stage to check the comic was OK, before reportedly helping to apprehend the attacker.
Video posted on social media appeared to show a man, reported by US media outlets to be the attacker, with a badly injured arm being put in an ambulance.
Los Angeles-based journalist Sharon Carpenter, who was in the audience, told the PA news agency: “It looked like someone dashed from the side of the stage, lunged at Dave, and all I saw was Dave basically flying in the air.
“He fell backwards on to his back, with his arms and legs up in the air. He was obviously in shock. We were all in shock. And I thought for a moment ‘OK, is this a prank?’ because they had made some Will Smith jokes.
“Even though Chris Rock was there, Dave was making some jokes, it was fair game, right? He was making some jokes about the situation.”
Carpenter said security officers and members of Chappelle’s entourage had then rushed on to the stage.
She added: “He just tried to keep the show going and was making jokes about the situation, but he was also pissed off about it as well.
“What was crazy too is that earlier in the night he made a joke about ‘Oh, I heard people are getting slapped around here’.”
The night continued with a performance by rappers Mos Def and Talib Kweli.
The Hollywood Bowl show with the legendary Dave Chappelle was crazy. Just happy everyone’s ok. pic.twitter.com/Jji0mv2ub6
— Jimmy Carr (@jimmycarr) May 4, 2022
A spokeswoman for the Hollywood Bowl said an investigation had been launched into the incident.
“The incident that occurred at the Hollywood Bowl on May 3 2022 is an active investigation and we are unable to comment further at this time,” she said in a statement.
British comedian Jimmy Carr was among those at the show and expressed his relief that nobody was seriously injured.
Sharing a selfie taken with Chappelle, he tweeted: “The Hollywood Bowl show with the legendary Dave Chappelle was crazy. Just happy everyone’s ok.”
Ahead of the performance, audience members were required to lock their phones inside cases to stop them filming the proceedings.
Chappelle has previously faced a backlash over comments about transgender people in his Netflix comedy special, The Closer.
The comedian said “gender is a fact” and gave his backing to JK Rowling, who has also attracted criticism for her remarks about the concept of biological sex.
Netflix employees were said to have reacted with anger to his comments and reportedly organised a walkout over the streaming giant’s decision to air the special.