Donnell Rawlings (Atlanta Comedy Theater March 17-19) still befuddled by fight at Philly diner

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 19: Comedian Donnell Rawlings performs at Radio City Music Hall on June 19, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 19: Comedian Donnell Rawlings performs at Radio City Music Hall on June 19, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Thursday, March 17, 2016

“Chappelle Show” comic Donnell Rawlings last weekend stepped out of a Philly diner for a smoke and was accused by a waitress of “dining and dashing.”

Patrons and employees at Little Pete’s, he said, began “rough housing” him and he fought back. Video given to TMZ shows punches being thrown and the waitress yelling at him.

Rawlings, in town this weekend at the Atlanta Comedy Theatre (tickets here), said in an interview this evening that he had no intention to “dine and dash.”

If he really wanted to run out on his bill, he said, why did he keep his bag inside and why didn’t he actually run rather than stand there to take a drag?

“It was really a dine and ash!” he cracked. (Apropos since one of his famous characters on “The Chappelle Show” was Ashy Larry.)

In the end, Rawlings felt it was an over-reaction and could be construed as racial profiling.

“All this over a $12 order of omelette and pancakes,” he mused. “My mom said, ‘Baby. There are ups and downs in your life. At the end of the day, if you’re on TMZ, you’re doing something right.’ ”

Not that Rawlings is proud of getting into a fight. (At least no charges were made and he wasn’t arrested.)

“I’m not jumping up and down for getting into a fistfight outside a pancake house,” Rawlings said. “But if someone tries to hurt you, you have to defend yourself.”

Did he think the current atmosphere fueled by Donald Trump may have contributed to people’s actions that night?

“When they were rough-housing me, the entire establishment started clapping and booing and chanting ‘Get him out!’ ” Rawlings said. “I’m not saying these people are Donald Trump supporters but the climate we are in now leads people to think they can express themselves this way, laced with negativity and hate.”

His life otherwise is going well. He’s spent much of the past two years opening for Chappelle, a sweet gig to say the least. But he had a son six months ago and now wants to find a way to stay off the road a bit more. He hopes to latch onto a television show so he can be in his own bed at night more often.

“It’s an exciting time in my life,” Rawlings said. “I’m excited to be a dad. I’m excited to go from ashy to classy!”

COMEDY PREVIEW

Donnell Rawlings

Thursday: 8:30 p.m.

Friday: 8:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

Saturday: 7:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m., 11:30 p.m.

$25-$35

Atlanta Comedy Theater

4650 Jimmy Carter Blvd., Norcross GA

Buy tickets here.


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