These events have really raised concerns for a number of comedians, who wonder about their safety on stage, and even the future of comedy itself, with many blaming the Will Smith incident for being a contributing factor.
“Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.”
Curtis Shaw Flagg, the president of The laugh Factory Chicago, also said:
“We are leaving comedians completely exposed. We’re allowing them to exercise their creative speech on stage, but we aren’t taking the requisite steps to make sure that they’re protected.
The security team are to blame for not taking adequate measures to make sure (attackers) didn’t even get to (the comics). That’s their one job and it seems like there’s been a complete failure to do that.”
The Comedy Cellar owner, Noam Dworman, also said the attack on Chappelle is more worrisome than the Smith/Rock incident:
“What happened to Dave is actually much more worrisome [than Smith striking Rock], and extends beyond comedy. This wasn’t a spontaneous reaction to a perceived slight — as bad as that was.
It was premeditated and dangerous, and it seems part of a general violent trend creeping up in many segments of American life. I’m very, very happy he’s OK. At the Cellar, we always have security, but, of course, we’ll be on the lookout.”
Comedian Nick Di Paolo, who was punched on stage at one of his shows back in 2018, weighed in on the scary trend that seems to be forming amongst fellow comedians:
“After the Will Smith thing put the seed in some nut’s heads, it’s a copycat thing now. It’s like any other crime…. My fellow comedians, protect yourselves.”
Howie Mandel also shared his concerns about the future of comedy in an interview with E! News:
“Not to comment on what happened at the Academy Awards, but I thought that that opened the flood gates. We’re already as comedians being attacked as far as being canceled for something that you don’t like, something that you find offensive, something that you think is too soon.
You saw what happened at the Academy Awards, and I thought that just triggers—violence triggers violence, and I think this is the beginning of the end for comedy.”