SANTA FE (KRQE) – A night of comedy took a not so funny turn Monday night in Santa Fe when someone in the audience threw a banana peel at comedian Dave Chappelle. It was a gesture the famous comedian is calling racist.
Chappelle was performing to a sold-out audience at the Lensic Performing Arts Center when 30-year old Christian Englander launched the discarded fruit at the comedian, hitting him in the leg.
According to the police report, Englander attended the show with a friend and admitted to police to stopping at an Allsup’s convenience store to buy a shot of 99 bananas liquor and an actual banana. He admitted that he consumed both before the show. Englander also told police he kept the peel in his back pocket.
Sometime during Monday night’s show, Englander says his friend who was drawing in a book was racially singled out by the comedian. Chappelle asked the friend about the drawing and wanted to know his name. The police report states that the friend said his name was “Johnny Appleseed.” Chapelle continued his show, making jokes about the name.
Santa Fe police said Englander did not appreciate Chappelle’s jokes and responded by throwing the peel at Chappelle.
“He didn’t say the specific remarks but he did feel that they were racial in nature towards his friend,” said Lt. Andrea Dobyns, a spokeswoman for the Santa Fe Police Department.
An audio recording of the show turned up online Tuesday morning. In the recording, the crowd can be heard reacting to the banana toss, following shortly by Chappelle asking, “hey, who just threw a banana peel?”
“Hey would you guys like to see your favorite comedian kick the s*** out of somebody?” said Chappelle in response to the banana toss.
“For the rest of the next, like, half hour he was talking about the banana peel and his reaction to it,” said Chris Ortiz, who attended the show.
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The police report against Englander goes on to say that he was escorted from the theater.
According to police, Englander appeared to be highly intoxicated. They say he was unapologetic and at one point said, “Maybe I should have handed [Chappelle] the banana instead.”
“He did admit to what he had done, but was not sorry about it,” said Lt. Dobyns.
Englander never told police or stated in the criminal complaint whether or not he was intentionally trying to be racist by throwing the banana, however, Chappelle took it that way. The comedian wanted him arrested and charged.
Englander was booked into the Santa Fe County Detention Center, charged with battery and disorderly conduct. He bonded out of jail Tuesday evening. Englander has no criminal history in New Mexico, according to NMCourts.com.
Chappelle’s comedy tour will continue Tuesday night with the comedian appearing in El Paso.
Performing Arts Center Responds
“First time he had been here, yeah,” said Bob Martin, executive director of the Lensic Performing Arts Center. “They said well its for Dave Chappelle, we said fantastic.”
It should have been a memorable debut for Chappelle at the Lensic Center Monday night, but now Martin is apologizing for what Englander did inside.
“I really do apologize to Dave Chappelle himself because we all work so hard exactly for something like that not to happen,” said Martin.
Martin says he didn’t even hear of the event until Tuesday morning when he started getting calls and reading posts about the incident on social media. Martin says the center is now considering banning Englander from any future shows. Responding to Chappelle’s experience, Martin hopes the comedian isn’t left with any hard feelings.
“I can understand that he wouldn’t come back to New Mexico after something like that but I sure hope that he does because I can tell you that everybody else besides this one person thought both shows were incredible,” said Martin.
Santa Fe Reacts
Santa Fe is used to positive praise as a tourist hot spot, but the banana peel incident gave the city a lot of bad press Tuesday.
It had bar owner and longtime Santa Fe resident Nick Klonis hopping mad.
“Maybe if the cops weren’t around I would have to talk to him a little bit,” Klonis said. “This guy should be slapped in the face, maybe a couple times.”
Santa Fean Marines Perez was stunned.
“It’s a shock because Santa Fe has been a town where everyone is welcome,” Perez said. “It’s only one incident. I think Santa Fe is more open than that.”
Mayor Javier Gonzales wasted little time condemning what happened at the Lensic in a statement:
I’m appalled that anyone from Santa Fe, a place that has embraced diversity for 400 years, would ever treat a guest to our city this way. The racism inherent in his actions is unacceptable. It doesn’t represent who we are, and we’re committed to taking action that reflects our true values by prosecuting those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.