Howie Mandel admitted that he’s afraid to go back to performing stand-up comedy after his fellow comedian Dave Chappelle was attacked onstage on Tuesday in Hollywood.
‘Watching what happened to Dave last night confirmed my fear,’ Howie said. ‘I was watching it kind of live on Twitter and I turned to my wife and I said, “I don’t want to. I don’t want to go on stage. I’m just really afraid.”‘
More private time: Howie Mandel, 66, said he planned to tour ‘less’ due to his fears of being attacked on stage after Dave Chappelle was tackled on Tuesday at the Hollywood Bowl; seen in September in Hollywood
Chappelle had been performing at the Hollywood Bowl when a man jumped on stage from the audience and tackled him.
The comedian didn’t suffer any serious injuries, though the apparent attacker, 23-year-old Isaiah Lee, had a plastic replica handgun with an attached knife blade with him.
‘That hit… no pun intended… that hit very deeply,’ Howie said of the attack.
He traced a change in culture following the introduction of so-called ‘cancel culture’ and suggested that audience members might feel empowered to attack comics that offend them after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards ceremony in March.
‘My biggest fear 40 years ago was not getting a laugh, and then cancel culture came along and then it was like, “Oh, my God if somebody doesn’t like your joke or you overstepped your line you could lose your career,” and then after the Academy Awards… I said… “Violence triggers violence.”‘
Shocking: Chappelle was apparently attacked by 23-year-old Isaiah Lee onstage at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday. He wasn’t injured, but Lee had a knife with him; seen April 28 in Hollywood
Howie thought that the slap seen around the world had emboldened audience members looking to hurt performers.
‘This is one step that kind of opens a door and triggers somebody if they don’t like what you’re saying or they’re offended by what you’re saying… It’s kind of OK because it’s been done, to be violent, and that’s what my fear was,’ he said.
When he was asked about his own touring plans, the AGT star didn’t seem optimistic about returning to the stage.
‘The love of what we do is fading… joking now has no safety net,’ he complained.
‘I’m actually going to do less because the love is not as fervent as it was, you know… six months ago,’ Howie continued. ‘Because fear overtakes… and I’m a guy who, you know, lives with worry anyway… I’ve been open about my mental health. I am neurotic. I suffer from depression.’
Emboldened: ‘This is one step that kind of opens a door and triggers somebody if they don’t like what you’re saying or they’re offended by what you’re saying… It’s kind of OK because it’s been done, to be violent, and that’s what my fear was,’ Howie said; seen April 9
‘The night after the Academy Awards I didn’t sleep for two nights and, you know, I really didn’t, and it hit me at the core, no pun intended, and then when I watched what happened last night…’ he said, trailing off. ‘We’re just trying to make people smile, we’re just trying to make people laugh — this is the opposite of violence, and it just… I don’t have words.’
The comedian and actor, who has long been open about his own emotional struggles, thought that mental health interventions might have been able to prevent some onstage attacks.
‘My soapbox is mental health… This is about people not getting the help they need… Anybody who is jumping onstage hitting somebody… anybody who is violent, I promise there are red flags before that moment, and those red flags are not being taken care of,’ he theorized.
Tough time: Howie said ‘fear overtakes’ after the attack. ‘And I’m a guy who, you know, lives with worry anyway… I’ve been open about my mental health. I am neurotic. I suffer from depression’; seen April 13 in LA
Howie recently gave a mental health update and revealed that he became ‘incredibly depressed’ and ‘neurotic’ after he was forced to quarantine alone in a room for 10 days after he contracted COVID-19.
‘I went insane,’ he added bluntly while speaking to TMZ. ‘I still feel like I’m recovering from that, the insanity. And I’m not joking. I got incredibly depressed, incredibly neurotic.
‘My only panacea to my physical health and my mental health is distracting myself,’ he added. ‘You can’t distract yourself for 10 days alone in a room.’