On Sunday night, London-based American comic Lewis Schaffer was attacked, scarred and got his nose broken.
Last night (Tuesday) I asked him via Skype what happened.
JOHN: God! You look terrible.
LEWIS: Do I look muscly?
JOHN: Strangely, yes. So what happened? You were cycling along the road on Sunday night…
LEWIS: I was cycling along. I was going down Gipsy Hill (in South London). It’s very steep; it’s really steep. It’s fast and I’m being very conscious of what I’m doing. And this woman driving a car got very close to me and my bicycle wobbled and I thought I was going to die.
It was a white Fiat 500; a small but newish car. It happened halfway down the hill. They sped off ahead. I didn’t pursue them, but I caught up with them at the bottom of the hill, cos this is London: it’s gonna be congested. You can’t make an escape in London. You can’t have a chase scene filmed in London, because someone’s gonna get caught in traffic.
JOHN: And you had an argument with her.
LEWIS: I didn’t have an argument. I was telling her off. I said: “Hey! What are you doing? You almost killed me!”
She gets out of the car and says: “Oh! You were swerving!”
Another woman gets out of the car and this dude gets out of the car and they have to hold him back and he gets very very angry. He gets super angry. He’s a young kid, whatever.
They’re screaming at me saying: “You were weaving! You were doing this! You were doing that!”
I said: “I wasn’t weaving! You almost killed me! You don’t want to kill somebody!”
And they were holding this guy back. He was a young kid.
JOHN: How old? 18? 19?
LEWIS: I dunno. He could have been like maybe 15 years old. But, at my age, everybody looks young.
Then he gets back in the car. I thought everything was alright. Then he gets out of the car again – he must’ve gotten something in the car possibly – I dunno what he did – he might have picked up something – it’s all a blur – I got hit in the head – He hit me in the head. I thought he had picked up a stone but I had turned away from him and he hits me right in the face. Breaks my nose. I didn’t even have a chance to protect myself.
It wasn’t like a fight or anything. He just kinda like cold-cocked me.
JOHN: Cold cocked you?
LEWIS: Sucker punched.
JOHN: Cold cocked?
LEWIS: You never heard that phrase?
JOHN: No. I was brought up a Presbyterian.
LEWIS: Wait… Here… online… here it is… It means to knock someone out, typically with a blow to the head. To cold cock.
JOHN: There was only one punch?
LEWIS: Only one punch. Possibly they did other things. People said I was kicked in the stomach.
JOHN: You were knocked out?
LEWIS: I must have been knocked out for a second. I might have been unconscious for a bit. By the time I get up, he’s back in the car and I’m covered in blood. Like literally. Blood is pouring out of me. I’m looking at him and saying: “What the fuck have you done?”
I’m bleeding and I’m taking the blood and I just start throwing the blood at the car. They got back in the car. They’re about to drive off and I’m throwing blood at them. It was weird, really.
I’m saying: “Look what you’ve done! Look what you’ve done!” And I’m just throwing blood all over the car. This beautiful white Fiat 500 car.
JOHN: And then what happens?
LEWIS: They drive off.
JOHN: And you don’t follow them?
LEWIS: No. I’m bleeding. I’m bleeding.
I was thinking to myself: You know what? At least they’re going to have to spend some time to clean up the car! They’ve punched me in the face, but I’m punishing them!
People around me are saying: “We got it on film! We got it on the CCTV!”
There’s like 5 or 10 or 15 people there who’ve seen it.
They say: “We’ve got it on TV. Sit down.” They come out. They’re bringing…
It’s just an amazing act of generosity from the people in the neighbourhood saying: “That was outrageous! I can’t believe that happened!”
Three of them brought packets of ice for me to put on my nose. They were just so helpful all these people. They called the ambulance. They called the police.
JOHN: And the car’s already gone off…
LEWIS: Yes, but they got the licence plate number and the next day the guy was arrested.
JOHN: And you got taken to A&E at King’s College Hospital in Denmark Hill…
LEWIS: I’ve got a huge gash in my nose and I’m dripping blood all over everything. They ask me all these questions and I say: “I’m alright; I’m alright,” so, instead of treating me instantly, they put me in ‘Urgent Care’, which is not so urgent I found out.
JOHN: How long did it take to see you?
LEWIS: Six hours.
JOHN: And eventually you had seven stitches. What happens with a broken nose? Do they leave it to mend itself?
LEWIS: Well, the doctor said: “Wait a week to see if we need to re-set the nose.”
JOHN: You must be on major pain-killers.
LEWIS: The only pain-killers they give you are paracetamol.
JOHN: And you’re OK?
LEWIS: I’m not OK. What am I supposed to do about it? And I feel really, really psychologically bad.
JOHN: Psychologically bad is good for your schtick. Are you in agony?
LEWIS: I’m in agony, yes. My face is killing me. And I’ve got a broken tooth.
JOHN: And tomorrow, you’re getting up at 4.00am because you’re appearing in a major movie. Are you allowed to say the name of the production?
JOHN: But it’s a major Hollywood feature film.
LEWIS: Major, major, major, major, major. Big studio thing with hundreds of extras.
JOHN: And it doesn’t matter you’ve got your nose broken?
LEWIS: It might matter. I’m really concerned. I’m gonna have to put on make-up.
JOHN: What time did you get punched on Sunday?
LEWIS: About six at night, after the Crystal Palace game. I’ll tell you something, John… To go see Crystal Palace and then to get into a fight and then to spend six hours in A&E at a hospital – Now I feel I really belong. How much more British could I be?