Chris Rock breaks silence on Will Smith slap at first show since Oscars spat

31 March 2022, 06:12

Chris Rock arrives at he Wilbur Theater in Boston for the first of his two sold-out performances, three days after he was slapped by Will Smith at the Oscars.
Chris Rock arrives at he Wilbur Theater in Boston for the first of his two sold-out performances, three days after he was slapped by Will Smith at the Oscars. Picture: Getty

By Sophie Barnett

Chris Rock said he is "still processing" being slapped by Will Smith on stage at the Oscars as he received a standing ovation in his first public appearance since the spat.

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The American comedian, who rose to fame on Saturday Night Live in the early 90s, referenced the altercation at a stand-up show in Boston on Wednesday.

Rock, 57, said he is "still processing" the incident at the 94th Annual Awards ceremony but said he will talk about it "at some point".

Smith marched onto stage and slapped the comedian across the face following a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and her hair loss.

Shortly after, Smith was announced as the winner of the best actor award for his King Richard role and went up to collect his statuette to a standing ovation from his peers, many of whom have denounced the assault.

Addressing audiences at the top of his show in Boston, Rock said: "How was your weekend?

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Watch slow-motion clip of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars

"I don't have a bunch of shit about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend.

"I'm still kind of processing what happened.

"So, at some point I'll talk about that shit. And it will be serious and funny."

Rock was reportedly given a standing ovation by his audience before kicking off his sell-out set.

It comes as the Academy revealed that Smith was asked to leave the 94th annual awards show after the incident, but refused.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a new statement that his actions were "a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television" and apologised to Rock, saying they could have "done more".

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The altercation shocked viewers and threw the prestigious Los Angeles film awards ceremony into turmoil. Smith returned to his seat at the ceremony as he told Rock to take Pinkett-Smith's name "out of your f****** mouth".

Oscars showrunner Will Packer has described the altercation as "a very painful moment for me."

But others went further, with comedian Jim Carrey calling the Oscars audience "spineless" for applauding Smith's win following his behaviour.

The Academy has launched a formal review into the incident, which could include disciplinary action for Smith such as suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.

Smith apologised to The Academy and his fellow nominees during his acceptance speech following his win, and later to Rock on social media.

He said he was "out of line and wrong", adding "violence in all its forms is poisonous and destructive".

Oscars' so-host Wanda Sykes said she was "still traumatised" and felt disappointed by the way the show had handled the "sickening" incident.

She also praised Rock's response after the altercation, revealing he had approached her to apologise about the incident because he knew it would overshadow her presenting efforts alongside Amy Schumer and Regina Hall.