After almost a year had passed since Smith had struck the comedian in the face at the Academy Awards, Rock presented the astounding incident as part of his stand-up comedy routine.
During a live Netflix program on Saturday night, almost a year after Will Smith had struck him onstage at the Oscars, Chris Rock made fun of the heated moment, devoting the final few minutes of his act to taunting Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock referenced last year’s Civil War-era film Emancipation, in which Smith portrays an enslaved individual who is compelled to work for the Confederacy, by stating, “Now I watch ‘Emancipation,’ just to see him get whooped.”
Following Smith’s surprising slap, Rock, a comedian who is not afraid of stirring up controversy, was expected to rapidly express his views on the matter. Instead, during his first performance after the Oscars, he mentioned that he was still processing what had transpired and promised his fans that he would eventually address the issue in greater depth. That moment arrived on Saturday at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore, where he performed a stand-up show that was live-streamed globally. At certain points in his act, Rock used self-deprecating humor, acknowledging Smith’s bigger stature.
The complete performance, named “Selective Outrage,” tackled a range of issues, including cancel culture, the January 6 insurrection, abortion, and Rock’s personal life, with the slapping incident only being mentioned at the conclusion. Rock stated that he was not a victim in the situation.
Rock compared his experience of being slapped by Smith to the punches that former boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has taken. During the 2022 Oscars ceremony, Smith came on stage and hit Rock after he made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s short haircut, which was due to her alopecia condition. Smith then used an expletive and yelled at Rock to not mention his wife’s name again, which Rock recalled during his recent performance and referred to Pinkett Smith as “his wife.”
When Will Smith smacked Chris Rock during the Oscars, it was an unscripted moment that shocked viewers and led to Smith’s unapologetic acceptance speech minutes later. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was left scrambling to figure out how to respond. As a result, Smith resigned from the academy, and he was later barred from attending the Oscars for ten years. Since then, Smith has apologized multiple times, including in a YouTube video where he expressed deep remorse and offered to talk with Rock. However, Rock was dismissive of the apology during a show in London with Dave Chappelle, describing it as a “hostage video.”
During his recent comedy tour across the country, Rock has occasionally mentioned the slapping incident, trying out some of the material that he later performed on the Netflix special. On Saturday, Rock brought up a sensitive topic for Smith – his marriage. He referred to Pinkett Smith’s admission in 2020 that they had separated, and she had an affair with R&B singer August Alsina, which she described as an “entanglement.” Rock joked about the couple’s decision to publicly discuss their personal problems on Pinkett Smith’s Facebook talk show, “Red Table Talk,” saying that Pinkett Smith hurt Smith more than he hurt her.