Chris Rock prepares for first show since Will Smith slapped him

Comedian Chris Rock makes his first public appearance on Wednesday since Oscar winner Will Smith slapped him for a joke about Smith’s wife during the Oscars.

Rock’s first set begins at 7:30 p.m. in Boston. The performance comes just three days after Smith slapped Rock onstage at the Oscars, stunning crowds at the 94th Academy Awards and viewers at home.

Rock had joked about Jada Pinkett Smith’s buzzed haircut. Pinkett Smith has spoken publicly about her diagnosis of alopecia, which can lead to hair loss.

“Jada, I love you. ‘GI Jane 2’ can’t wait to see him,” Rock said at the awards ceremony, comparing Pinkett Smith to Demi Moore’s ‘GI Jane’ character, who had a buzz cut in the 1997 film.

Smith immediately got up from his seat at the front of the venue and walked onto the stage, slapping Rock in the face before sitting back down and yelling at Rock to keep his wife’s name out of his mouth.

Within an hour, Smith won Best Actor and received a standing ovation. During his five-minute acceptance speech, Smith spoke about defending his family and apologized to the academy. A day later, Smith apologized to the comedian, the academy and viewers at home, saying he was “out of line” and that his actions were “not indicative of the man I aspire to be.”

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences condemned Smith’s punch at Rock and said it would open an investigation.

After calling a board meeting Monday to discuss the confrontation, the film academy said it would review Smith’s actions and “consider further action and consequences consistent with our statutes, standards of conduct and California law.”

The Los Angeles Police Department said Sunday it knew what happened but was not investigating because the person concerned declined to file a police report.

Pinkett Smith responded Tuesday with a graphic on Instagram that read, “This is a time of healing and I’m here for it.” She had no further comment.

This wasn’t the first time Rock had cracked a joke at the expense of Pinkett Smith. When he hosted the Oscars in 2016, some people boycotted the ceremony because of the #OscarsSoWhite group of nominees, including the Smiths. Rock said at the time: “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”

Some Academy members, such as writer and producer Marshall Herskovitz, called on the Academy to take disciplinary action against Smith.

The Screen Actors Guild also got involved. The film, television and radio union called the confrontation “unacceptable”.

Some also questioned the decision to allow Smith to continue sitting front and center after beating Rock. Several stars rushed to offer advice and reassurance to Smith, including Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper and Tyler Perry.

The drama overshadowed some historic wins at an Academy Awards. The deaf family drama “CODA” was the first film with largely deaf actors to win the award for best film. For the first time, a streaming service, Apple TV+, received Hollywood’s highest honor, signaling a sea change in Hollywood and in cinema-going. Wins for West Side Story’s Ariana DeBose, CODA’s Troy Kotsur, and The Power of the Dog director Jane Campion all made history.

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