A year after Will Smith slapped him on the Academy Awards stage, Chris Rock ended what has been mostly silence to unload on the actor as a coward who allegedly lashed out over his own marriage problems.
The 58-year-old comedian on Saturday night performed his first stand-up special since last year’s Oscars, a week before the 2023 Academy Awards ceremony.
“Anybody who says that words hurt has never been punched in the face,” Rock said at the opening the live Netflix special, “Chris Rock: Selective Outrage.”
Rock spent most of the more than hour’s time on-stage at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore speaking about anything but the altercation with Smith one year ago.
But the show peaked at its very end with an emotional but comedic analysis of the Oscars fracas that many have been waiting for.
“It still hurts,” Rock said of the strike. “I got ‘Summertime’ ringing in my ears. But I’m not a victim, baby. You’ll never see me on Oprah or Gayle [King] crying. It’s never gonna happen.”
During the special Saturday, Rock alleged Smith may have been angry over marital issues and took the occasion to express frustration.
Smith charged the stage at last year’s Oscars after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia areata, a medical condition that results in hair loss.
“Will Smith practices selective outrage,” he said. “Everybody knows I had nothing to do with that. I didn’t have any entanglements.”
Pinkett Smith has said she had an “entanglement” with another man while the Smiths were separated.
Rock went on to say “everyone in the world” called Smith an expletive over his relationship issues , but Smith took it out on Rock — a physically smaller man.
“She hurt him way more than he hurt me,” the comedian said.
The comedian also alleged Pinkett Smith had urged him to drop out of hosting the ceremony one year because Smith was not nominated for his role in “Emancipation,” Rock said, before correcting his joke to name another movie, “Concussion.” “That’s how it is. She starts it, I finish it,” he said.
Rock went on to talk about how much he’s “rooted for Will Smith my whole life.”
“And now,” he continued, “I watch ‘Emancipation’ just to see him get whooped.”
Representatives for the Smiths did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Smith has apologized and repeatedly spoken about the incident since last March. He resigned his membership to the film academy in the aftermath of the slap, and the academy board of governors banned Smith from the Oscars and all other academy events for a decade.
But Rock has avoided all the usual platforms celebrities often go to air their feelings. On the road, he’s often worked in jokes and reflections on the slap, though it’s never been more than an element.
Rock first broke his public silence about the slap three nights after the Oscar ceremony, last year in Boston. “How was your weekend?” he asked the crowd. He added that he was “still kind of processing what happened.”
“Selective Outrage” is Rock’s second special for Netflix, following 2018’s “Tamborine.” They’re part of a two-special $40 million deal Rock signed with the streamer in 2016.
While rivals have gotten into live streaming and sports, “Selective Outrage” marks Netflix’s first foray into live programming. Netflix, with 231 million global subscribers, also recently signed on to stream next year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, signaling that “Selective Outrage” may be just the start of a new trend.