The Columbus Dispatch
Chris Rock finally addresses the Will Smith slap in Netflix special
Now, Chris Rock has the microphone. Almost a year after the comedian, 58, was slapped by Will Smith on stage at the 2022 Academy Awards, he is finally saying his piece about it all to a global audience.
Speaking from the stage at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore during his live, 68-minute Netflix stand-up comedy special, “Selective Outrage,” Rock briefly referred to the slap that sent shockwaves through Hollywood for the past year.
Rock took his sweet time addressing the slap, with just two offhand remarks until the final minutes of the special. Speaking about insults, he said, “Everybody who says words hurt has never been punched in the face.”
And in a bit about rapper Snoop Dogg’s prevalence in commercials of late, Rock said “I can’t go dissing Snoop. The last thing I need is another mad rapper.” When the audience reeled, Rock quickly added, “No, no, no, back to the show.”
But at the very end of the special, Rock really let it all out.
“People are like, ‘Did it hurt?’ It still hurts! I got ‘Summertime’ ringing in my ears!” he said. “But I’m not a victim, baby. You will never see me on Oprah, Gayle, crying.”
He also pointed out his size disadvantage on the Oscars stage: “Will Smith is significantly bigger than me. He does movies with his shirt off ! You’ve never seen me do a movie with my shirt off. If I’m in a movie getting open heart surgery, I got on a sweater. Will Smith played Muhammed Ali in a movie! You think I auditioned for that part? I played Pookie in ‘New Jack City.’ ... Even in animation, he’s bigger: I’m a zebra, he’s a shark.”
But he also joked that Smith’s outrage was misplaced: “Nobody was picking on her. She said, me, a grown-ass man, should quit his job (as 2016 Oscars host) because her husband didn’t get nominated for ‘Concussion,’ ” a 2015 movie. “Then he gave me a concussion.” He continued: “I love Will Smith ... he’s made some great movies. I have rooted for Will Smith my whole life. And now I watch ‘Emancipation’ just to see him get whooped. Got me rooting for massa: ‘Hit ’em again!’ ”
Then he brought up Jada’s affair with rapper Augustus Alsina, which the couple discussed on her Facebook series, “Red Table Talk,” and said, “she hurt him way more than he hurt me.”
And Rock closed the show with an answer to the question some watching the Oscars may have wondered about: “A lot of people go, ‘Chris, how come you didn’t do nothing back?’ Because I’ve got parents! That’s why. Because I was raised. You know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of white people!”
Rock spent the majority of the special on other topics including woke culture, Elon Musk, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, the Kardashians, abortion, Ukraine
and his daughters. It marked the first time Netflix streamed a live special globally.
Until Saturday, Rock hadn’t publicly discussed the incident at length, though he’d made a few jokes at stops on his stand-up tours.
The infamous slap occurred when Rock appeared onstage to present the Academy Award for best documentary feature during the March 27, 2022, Oscars ceremony. In his introduction, Rock made a joke about a possible “G.I. Jane” sequel in reference to Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head.
Smith appeared to first laugh at Rock’s joke, though Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes and looked upset. Afterward, Smith walked up to the stage, slapped Rock and returned to his seat amid confusion in the crowd about whether the segment was scripted or real.
“Will Smith just slapped the (expletive) out of me,” Rock deadpanned to the audience.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth,” Smith shouted from his table.
“Wow, dude. It was a ‘G.I. Jane’ joke,” Rock replied. Smith repeated his previous remarks.
Pinkett Smith has previously opened up about her struggle with alopecia, an autoimmune skin disease that can cause hair loss on the scalp, face, or other areas of the body, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Contributing: Angie Orellana Hernandez and Amy Haneline