Chris Rock roasts Will Smith over Oscars slap in live Netflix comedy special: ‘I’m not a victim, baby’
Chris Rock tore into Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith during his historic comedy special on Saturday night, finally addressing the infamous slap at last year’s Oscar’s ceremony.
The 58-year-old comedian roasted Mr Smith over the violent attack in Netflix’s first ever live global streaming event, where he blamed the Hollywood power couple’s well-publicised marital issues.
“Will Smith practices selective outrage. Because everybody knows what the f*** happened,” Mr Rock said in an extended riff towards the end of the 70-minute special. “I didn’t have any entanglements. Will Smith’s wife was f**ing her son’s friend, OK. Normally I would not talk about that s*** but for some reason (they) put that on the internet. We’ve all been cheated on. None of us have ever been interviewed by the person we cheated on on television. She hurt him way more than he hurt me.”
In 2020, Ms Pinkett Smith sat down with her husband to discuss her affair with R&B singer August Alsina for an episode of her Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk.
Mr Rock revealed that he had tried to contact Mr Smith to offer his condolences about the affair.
“He didn’t take my call,” Rock said.
He then claimed that Ms Pinkett Smith had tried to force him to quit hosting the 2016 Oscars because Mr Smith didn’t get a Best Actor nomination for Concussion.
“And then this n**** gives me a concussion,” said Mr Rock, before adding that he had been a longtime fan of the movie star, and had “rooted for Will Smith my whole life. And now I watch Emancipation just to see him get whipped.”
Mr Rock acknowledged that the slap physically hurt.
“But I’m not a victim baby. You will never see me on Oprah or Gayle, crying,” he said. “Never gonna happen. I took that hit like Paquiao.”
He said he had been asked about why he didn’t fight back, telling viewers: “Because I got parents, and you know what my parents told me, don’t fight in front of white people.”
The comedy special, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, was filmed at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre and streamed to a large global audience.
Mr Rock, dressed all in white and wearing a Prince love symbol pendant, kept viewers waiting for an nearly hour before mentioning Mr Smith by name.
He also took aim at Elon Musk, Lululemon, January 6 rioters and Meghan Markle during the 70-minute special.
While poking fun at Snoop Dogg for selling everything from beer to reverse mortgages, Mr Rock emphasised that he was a fan of the hip hop superstar.
“I’m not dissing Snoop. Last thing I need is another mad rapper,” he said to ripples of laughter.
Mr Rock was introduced by Arsenio Hall, in a nod to his first ever television appearance on Hall’s late night talk show in 1988. The comedy special featured taped tributes to the comedian from Adam Sandler, Paul McCartney, Jerry Seinfeld, Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Amy Schumer and Ice-T.
The live event generated significant buzz on social media, but opinion was divided over whether Mr Rock had met the moment.
Many Twitter users complained that the comedian seemed to be recycling old material.
“This probably woulda been funnier in the early 2000’s. In 2023.......not so much,” said one Twitter user.
“I understand why he did what he did. We owe him an apology,” another person tweeted alongside a photo of Smith.
Mr Rock has been touring the world for his Ego Death World Tour for much of the past year, but has largely steered clear of mentioning the most public of assaults.
He had only sporadically referenced the “slap heard around the world” in jokes on tour.
On March 27 2022, Mr Rock had been presenting an award for Best Documentary Feature when he made a crack about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.
Mr Smith stormed onstage and struck Mr Rock hard across the face with an open palm before returning to his seat.
The actor returned to the podium about 40 minutes later after being awarded his first Oscar for Best Actor for playing the title role in King Richard, a biopic about the father of Serena and Venus Williams.
In the wake of the award and the slap, Mr Smith was banned from attending the Academy Awards for 10 years and resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Academy president Janet Yang last week expressed regret at the “inadequate” response to the incident.
The Oscars will be held on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.