Comedian Chris Rock performs in public Wednesday for the first time since Oscar-winning actor Will Smith slapped him for a joke about Smith’s wife at the Oscars.
Rock’s first set begins at 7:30 p.m. in Boston. The performance comes just three days after Smith slapped Rock on stage at the Oscars, stunning the crowd at the 94th Academy Awards and those watching at home.
Rock had made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s buzzy haircut. Pinkett Smith has spoken publicly about her diagnosis of alopecia, which can cause baldness.
“Jada, I love you. ‘GI Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it,” Rock said at the award show, comparing Pinkett Smith to Demi Moore’s ‘GI Jane’ character, who made the buzz in the 1997 film.
Smith quickly got up from his seat at the front of the room and took the stage, slapping Rock in the face before sitting back down and yelling at Rock to keep his wife’s name out of his mouth.
Within an hour, Smith won Best Actor, receiving a standing ovation. During his five-minute acceptance speech, Smith spoke of standing up for his family and apologized to the academy. A day later, Smith issued an apology to the comedian, academy and viewers at home, saying he was “out of place” and his actions “are not indicative of the man I want. to be”.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences condemned Smith hitting Rock and said it would launch an investigation.
After calling a meeting of the board of governors on Monday to discuss the confrontation, the film academy said it would review Smith’s actions and “explore further actions and consequences consistent with our bylaws, standards of conduct and California law.
The Los Angeles Police Department said Sunday it was aware of what happened but was not pursuing an investigation because the person involved refused to file a police report.
Pinkett Smith responded Tuesday with a graphic on Instagram that read, “It’s a healing season and I’m here for it.” She made no further comment.
It wasn’t the first time Rock had made a joke at Pinkett Smith’s expense. When he hosted the 2016 Oscars, some people boycotted the ceremony over the group of #OscarsSoWhite nominees, including the Smiths. Then said Rock: “Jada is boycotting the Oscars, it’s like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I was not invited.
Some members of the academy, such as writer-producer Marshall Herskovitz, called on the academy to take disciplinary action against Smith.
The Screen Actors Guild also weighed in. The film, television and radio union called the confrontation “unacceptable”.
Some also questioned the decision to allow Smith to continue to sit front and center after hitting Rock. Several stars rushed to advise and calm Smith down, including Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper and Tyler Perry.
The drama overshadowed some historic Oscar wins. Deaf family drama “CODA” became the first film with a mostly Deaf cast to win Best Picture. For the first time, a streaming service, Apple TV+, has won Hollywood’s highest accolade, signaling a profound change in Hollywood and in cinema. The victories of Ariana DeBose of “West Side Story”, Troy Kotsur of “CODA” and Jane Campion, director of “The Power of the Dog”, had all made history.