DELRAY BEACH – To comic Joe Bartnick, the slap is worse than the tackle.
Bartnick has yet to forgive actor Will Smith for slapping Chris Rock live on stage during March’s Oscars in response to the comic’s joke about Smith’s bald wife.
Dave Chappelle being tackled on stage during a California performance last week didn’t have as lasting an impression.
“I love Dave Chappelle, but Chris Rock is on my Mount Rushmore,” Bartnick said. “That’s Chris Rock. How dare Will Smith go and do that. And they let him sit back down? It took me about a month of waking up every day wanting to kill him.”
Security guards and friends tackled Chappelle’s attacker on stage, dispensing their brand of physical punishment that ended with an ambulance ride. Bartnick still wants to see Smith get his comeuppance for floating like a butterfly, slapping like a bitch.
“The Dave Chappelle thing, the guy was dealt with,” Bartnick said. “I feel like he got his justice. I think Will Smith needs to be hit with a baseball bat – and his bald witch of his wife. You can print that, too. It’s bullshit.”
In South Florida this week for a string of shows, including Thursday night at Tim Finnegan’s in Delray Beach, Bartnick was actually performing in the same Netflix Is A Joke: The Festival comedy festival in which the Chappelle attack occurred.
Bartnick, who regularly tours with Bill Burr, appeared a day after Chappelle at a different venue as part of the Bill Burr: Friends Who Kill special that will be released on Netflix.
Because the Chappelle attacker paid a price for his actions – and because comics are going to comic – many comedians taking part in the festival were able to quickly make jokes about the Chappelle incident, Bartnick said.
To many, Smith’s actions produced a deeper wound.
“It just so disrespected the art form of comedy, what Will Smith did,” Bartnick said. “The other thing was just a crazy guy. He could have ran up and attacked Neil Young. He could have ran up and attacked Bob Weir. Whatever, Jay Z.”
Like Chappelle, Bartnick has been attacked on stage. It happened a couple decades ago while performing at an Irish bar in San Francisco. Bartnick suffer any ill effects.
Standing 6-foot-3 and sporting a frame with enough bulk to be cast as a strip club bouncer in the upcoming Miramax film Old Dads (expected to be released in time for Christmas), Bartnick isn’t worried about someone rushing him on stage (he also knows karate).
He doesn’t see how a comic could successfully perform while being worried about their own safety.
“I hope other comics aren’t afraid of that,” said Bartnick, who also hosts the acclaimed hockey podcast “Puck Off”. “I hope there’s security for other comics. I don’t fear that because I will knock you the fuck out.”
Bartnick, who recently recorded a full length comedy comedy special in Chicago, elicited laughs with a couple of jokes about the Chappelle and Rock incidents during his sold out performance at the Turtle Tavern on Tuesday.
Those jokes will likely be part of Thursday’s show at Finnegan’s. Nadeem Awad, Mark Christopher and David Sadman are also scheduled to perform. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $20.
Bartnick headlines at Tamarac’s Creole Garden on Friday and the Spill The Beans show at Undergrounds Coffeehaus on Saturday.