Chris Rock didn’t hold back in his first stand-up special since last year’s infamous Oscars slap. Not only did the comedian directly address Will Smith slapping him at the Oscars in March 2022, but he also mocked the actor’s relationship with Jada Pinkett Smith – which has made headlines ever since she admitted to having a relationship with August Alsina during her marriage.
During his live-streamed Netflix special, titled Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, the comedian quipped that he “didn’t have any entanglements,” referencing the term Pinkett Smith used to describe her relationship with Alsina back in 2020.
“His wife was f***ing her son’s friend,” Rock said on Saturday 4 March.
“Now, I normally would not talk about this s***. But for some reason [they] put that s*** on the internet...We all been cheated on. Everybody in here’s been cheated on. None of us have ever been interviewed by the person that cheated on us on television.”
He added: “She hurt him way more than he hurt me, OK?”
In July 2020, Jada Pinkett Smith confirmed during an episode of her Facebook Watch series, Red Table Talk, that she had a relationship with Alsina. Will Smith appeared alongside Pinkett Smith in the episode, in which she explained that she and her husband were “separated amicably” when the romance occurred, which had not been disclosed to the press at the time.
“We decided that we were going to separate for a period of time and you go figure out how to make yourself happy and I’ll figure out how to make myself happy,” Pinkett Smith said.
The GI Jane star went on to use the term “entanglement” when describing her involvement with Alsina. “From there, as time went on, I got into a different kind of entanglement with August,” she said, before being prompted by Smith to confirm it “was a relationship, absolutely.”
The Red Table Talk episode came two weeks after Alsina spoke out about their relationship, claiming that Smith gave him “his blessing” to have a relationship with the actor’s wife. In an interview with The Breakfast Club, Alsina claimed Smith approved of the relationship after his marriage “transformed” into what he described as a non-romantic “life partnership”.
“I actually sat down with Will and had a conversation due to the transformation from their marriage to life partnership that they’ve spoken on several times and it not involving romanticism,” Alsina said.
He added that he “totally gave myself to that relationship for years of my life and I truly and really, really deeply loved and have a ton of love for her.”
Pinkett Smith’s representative has since said that Alsina’s claims are “absolutely not true”.
The Girls Trip star also denied the details of Alsina’s account about her husband giving “permission” during Red Table Talk episode. “The only person who could give permission in that particular circumstance was myself,” she said.
“What August was probably trying to communicate – because I could see how he would perceive it as permission, because we were separated amicably – I think he wanted to make it clear that he’s not a homewrecker. Which he’s not,” she added.
Alsina reportedly met Pinkett Smith in 2015 after being introduced by her son, actor and rapper Jaden Smith.
Smith and Pinkett Smith, who tied the knot in 1997, have spoken candidly about their marriage over the years. While the two have fielded rumours about an open relationship in the past, both Smith and Pinkett Smith share the belief that they have a non-conventional marriage.
In 2013, Pinkett Smith took to Facebook to address rumours she and her husband were in an open relationship, writing: “Here is how I will change my statement...Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship...this means we have a GROWN one.”
Two years later, the King Richard actor addressed rumours that the two were separating, and clarified they were not getting a divorce. “Under normal circumstances, I don’t usually respond to foolishness,” he wrote in a Facebook post at the time. “But, so many people have extended [to] me their ‘deepest condolences’ that I figured – ‘What the hell… I can be foolish, too!’ So, in the interest of redundant, repetitious, over and over-again-ness… Jada and I are… NOT GETTING A DIVORCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
In 2018, Smith admitted in an episode of TIDAL’s Rap Radar podcast that he and his wife “refer to ourselves as life partners”. He then elaborated on their complex dynamic in his 2021 self-titled memoir, Will, writing that they were “suffering the brutal death of our romantic fantasies, the burning away of the idealistic illusion of the perfect marriage and the perfect family. Neither of us wanted a divorce; we knew we loved each other, and some aspects of our union were magical. But the structure of the life that we had established was strangling both of us.”
That same year, the I Am Legend star confessed in a sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey that he and his wife believe it’s “fantasy” that they can make each other happy.
“We realised that it was a fantasy illusion that we could make each other happy. We agreed that she had to make herself happy and I had to make myself happy,” he said. “Then we were going to present ourselves back to the relationship already happy – versus demanding that the other person fill our empty cup.”
Nearly two weeks before the 2022 Oscars, and the infamous Oscars slap, Smith discussed some of the rumours surrounding his relationship with Pinkett Smith in an interview with Gayle King for CBS Mornings.
“There’s never been infidelity in our marriage,” he said. “Jada and I talk about everything, and we have never surprised one another with anything, ever.”
The couple also joked there would be “no more entanglements” in their marriage during a conversation with Laverne Cox at the 2022 SAG Awards on Sunday 27 February, where Pinkett Smith said: “No more of those, yeah, no more” in response to a question about the relationships.
On 27 March 2022, comedian Rock was presenting an award for Best Documentary Feature when he made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Smith then stormed onstage and hit Rock across the face with an open palm before returning to his seat.
Later that night, Smith was awarded his first Oscar for Best Actor for his role in King Richard, a biopic about the father of Serena and Venus Williams. After the “Oscars slap”, Smith was banned from attending the Academy Awards for 10 years and resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.