However, he also used the set to make a claim about Smith’s wife, Pinkett Smith. According to Rock, the Girl’s Trip actor attempted to force him to quit hosting the Oscars in 2016 because her husband didn’t get a Best Actor nomination.
That year, Smith was being tipped for a possible nod for the drama Concussion, but he ultimately failed to make the list of nominees.
"Years ago, his wife said I should quit the Oscars. I shouldn't host 'cause her man didn't get nominated for Concussion. And then he gives me a f***ing concussion,” Rock quipped.
He added that Pinkett Smith told him he “should quit 'cause Will didn't get nominated”.
Rock ignored Pinkett Smith’s pleas and, while presenting that year’s ceremony, he made a joke at Pinkett Smith’s expense, which resurfaced following the Oscars slap.
Now, Rock claims he made this joke in response to Pinkett Smith’s request.
“That’s how it is – she starts it, I finish it, OK? That's what the f*** happened. Nobody's picking on her. She started this s***."
In 2016, Pinkett Smith, alongside many Hollywood stars, boycotted the 2016 ceremony due to the lack of diversity among that year’s nominations. This lack of diversity prompted the #OscarsSoWhite campaign.
The Independent has contacted Pinkett Smith for comment.
Rock added in the special: “I have rooted for Will Smith my whole life. And now I watch Emancipation just to see him get whupped.”
Emancipation is the 2021 slavery drama directed by Antonie Fuqua, in which Smith plays a man who must survive the Louisiana swamps while being chased by slave catchers and their dogs.
Elsewhere during Rock’s stand-up special, the comedian lambasted Meghan Markle’s claims that she experienced “racism” during her time at Buckingham Palace.
He also directly addressed Smith’s slap, saying he “took that hit” like former professional boxer Manny Paquiao.
In 2022, Smith walked onto the Oscars stage to hit Rock after the comedy star made a joke about Pinkett Smith.
Later in the ceremony, Smith was named Best Actor for his role in King Richard, and delivered a tearful speech.
He was later banned as a member of the Academy for 10 years, and will not be permitted to attend the 2023 ceremony.
Tradition would have had it that Smith, as the reigning Best Actor winner, would have been invited to present Best Actress. It is unknown who will give out the trophy in his place.
This year’s Oscars ceremony takes place on 12 March.