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According to Von Ghasri, he claims that security “dismissed” his “concern.”
“At the Dave Chappelle show, I was merely a fan,” Von Ghasri, who is a staple at Los Angeles’ Laugh Factory, shared with Fox News Digital. “I was in the audience in the pool section, which is the closest section to the stage that you can possibly be. It was intended for VIP, industry and celebrity guests, and I was fortunate enough to be a part of that selection.
“And as a person watching this show – this phenomenal show, Jeff Ross as the host, Jimmy Carr, Earthquake, Jon Stewart, then the surprise guest, Chris Rock, the Jabbawockeez performed. And then Dave Chappelle gave an amazing performance, and it was just so wonderful. Such a fantastic, beautiful night,” he recalled.
Von Ghasri shared that Chappelle was wrapping up his show, just about to introduce the hip-hop group Mos Def and Talib Kweli, who sing “Black Star,” when he saw a man “jump the barrier” and claimed he looked “suspicious.”
“I see that there is a young person, a young man walks up with intent, slides over the barrier that separates the pool area, which is the closest area to the back area, slides over that barrier within three feet of me,” the comedian shared. “I turn to the person to my left and I expressed, ‘That’s very suspicious.’ He agrees and says, ‘That is very sketch.'”
Von Ghasri continued: “As the person jumps over the barrier, he then walks directly to the stage front with intent. And because of that, I did my best to alert the security guard who was immediately behind us and expressed with concern, ‘This person jumped over the barrier. This person walked to the front, We should do something. Alert somebody.'”
He then goes on to give the show’s security the benefit of the doubt, claiming that since it was the end of Chappelle’s show, and “there was so much going on,” he believes the security “didn’t have time”.
“At least keep your eye on them,” Von Ghasri said to the security. He alleged, “to which, to be honest, the security dismissed my concern,”
Fox News has reached out to the LA Phil, which operates The Hollywood Bowl, for comment.
“Within 30 seconds of all this, the assailant leaps over the barrier to get on the stage, runs aggressively toward Dave Chappelle, and knocks right into him,” he continued. “Now, if it wasn’t for his own clumsiness and Dave Chappelle’s personal strength – he’s been working out – I think it could have been much, much worse. This person, clearly – it was premeditated. It was pre-orchestrated and it was organized.”
“This was an attack on Dave Chappelle, which is an attack on comedy, which is an attack on all comedians, and to be honest, is an attack on freedom of speech,” Von Ghasri continued. “Because what else is liberty but the right to say things that people do not or may not want to hear? And that’s what makes comedy so amazing.”
Von Ghasri then shared that he was able to talk to Chappelle after the attack and “thank him for what he did as a comedian”.
“I spoke to Dave myself,” he began. “I thanked him for what he did as a comedian. I shook his hand and told him he’s a ‘G’ for going through what he did and brushing it off like it was nothing and was just glad that he was safe. And the last thing I told him was, he’s such a better person than I am because he was still being so compassionate and kind.”
“Rihanna walked to the back with ASAP Rocky, so they walked into the back. And this is before the attack happened,” he said.
When Von Ghasri was asked what does this mean for the future of comedy, he responded, “For the future of comedy in the landscape? This does not change anything because this is what comedians are.
“This is who we are as people. We are fearless. We say the things whether the audience needs to or wants to hear it or not. We’re the heroes that you need, not the ones you always deserve. And to be very honest, as comedians, we are becoming increasingly more afraid of hecklers coming on stage. This is becoming a much more common occurrence, and especially at places like the Laugh Factory.”
He continued: “The stage is a safe place and a safe space not only for the comedians, but for the audience as well. So an attack on one comedian is an attack on comedy as a whole. And as anyone knows, whenever a tyrant or a dictator comes in, comedy is so important that the comedians are the first group of people they attempt to silence. Do not silence the comedians. Protect our comedians. Protect our First Amendment rights.”
While some comedians have taken to Twitter to point the proverbial finger at Will Smith, Von Ghasri doesn’t believe that Smith is to blame for the violent act at the comedy show.
In March, Smith approached the stage and slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head. Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggle with alopecia.
“I don’t believe that Will Smith started a precedent. I think Will Smith was part of a symptom,” he said. “And just because you are offended doesn’t mean you’re right. But just because you’re offensive doesn’t mean you’re funny. The fine line in between, that’s where great comedy lays and that’s where all the comedians that I know want to be.”
Fox News’ Larry Fink contributed to this report