It was the moment many have been waiting almost a year for _ a chance to hear how Chris Rock would finally address Will Smith’s Oscar night of the comedian on the Academy stage with a slap that will live in infamy .
Perhaps because Rock knew much of the crowd tuning in was waiting for that very moment, he saved it for the end of his set Saturday night during Netflix’s much-hyped first live special Chris Rock: Selective outrage!
But when the moment finally came, Rock didn’t hold back, taking down Smith, dragging his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and targeting the couple’s marital problems (with Pinkett Smith admitting to a relationship with singer August Aslina when the couple talked about their marriage on an episode of Red Table Talk) in a blistering closing moment.
“Will Smith practices selective outrage,” Rock told the crowd. “Outrage because everybody knows what the hell happened. Everybody who really knows knows that I had nothing to do with that shit. I had no involvement.”
He continued: “His wife fucked his son’s friend. OK, now normally I wouldn’t talk about this shit, but for some reason these n—’ers put that shit on the internet. I have no idea why two talented people would do something so low. What the hell? And we’ve all been cheated on. Everyone in here has been cheated on. None of us have ever been interviewed by the person who cheated on us on TV.”
“She hurt him more than he hurt me. Everyone in the world called him a bitch. I tried to call the scammer, I tried to call that man and give him my condolences, he didn’t answer for me.” He went on to name all the people who called Smith a “bitch” after that interview Red Table Talk, including Charlamagne Tha God and The view. “Everybody called him a bitch, and who did he beat? Me – one – he knows he could beat. That’s some ass shit.”
While this isn’t the first time Rock has addressed Smith’s slap — much of Saturday’s material was present in his shows as he toured the country over the past year — they were the first comments before a wide audience as Rock fronted Netflix’s first foray into live programming, a global event that featured a pre-show and post-show with guests that included Arsenio Hall, Amy Schumer, JB Smoove, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dana Carvey and others.
“I’m going to try to do a show tonight without offending anyone,” Rock said, kicking off his stand-up special from Baltimore. “I will do my best because you never know who will be triggered.”
He added that he did not mind “vigilance” but that he is not a fan of the “selective outrage”, the kind of people who will listen to Michael Jackson but not R. Kelly: “same crime – one of They just got better songs.”
Among the topics Rock touched on were the Capitol riots: “White men trying to overthrow the government they run?” Rock said. “They’re like, ‘Damn, we’ve got to get them out of the office.’ WHO? U.S?”
He later touched on the idea of white men feeling disempowered, and joked about whether commercials featuring interracial couples were part of their anger.
“There are no black couples either,” he said. “Every commercial has a mixed-race couple,” adding that he saw a commercial the other day where a Japanese woman was married to a caterpillar.
“By the way, speaking of commercials, when did Snoop Dogg become Morgan Freeman?” Rock joked. “I saw a commercial the other day where Snoop was selling reverse mortgages.” But he made it a point to note that he loves Snoop Dogg. “I’m not exposing Snoop. The last thing I need is another crazy rapper,” he added to cheers from the crowd.
But of course, the rapper who was the main target of the night was Smith, even if a good portion of his anger was directed at Pinkett Smith. Rock recalled when Pinkett Smith had called for blacks to boycott the Oscars amid the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in 2016; Rock went on to host that year’s show.
“She started this shit. She told me, a fucking grown man, to quit my job because ‘My husband didn’t get nominated for concussion,‘ and then this n–a gives me a goddamn concussion.”
Towards the end of the special, Rock changed his tone a bit, saying, “I loved Will Smith. All my life I loved Will Smith. I saw him open up for Run-DMC … He makes great movies. I’ve been rooting for Will Smith all my life,” said Rock. “And now I see Emancipation just to see him get booed.”
Rock used the last minute of Selective outrage to answer the question he’s been getting a lot since the Slack: Why didn’t you do anything back? “Because I have parents,” Rock said. “Because I was raised. And you know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of white people.”
The pre-show featured appearances from other comics and Rock’s friends, including Schumer and Jerry Seinfeld. The daily showRonny Chieng hosted the special, which also featured Hall, Deon Cole and Leslie Jones.
Chieng kicked off the night live at Los Angeles’ Comedy Store.
“I can’t stress how Direct things are today” The daily show said correspondent. “We’re live from two different places at the same time, Los Angeles and Baltimore. Why? Absolutely for no reason. It’s extremely expensive and difficult and annoying.”
The comedian also joked about how they do a live comedy show on a Saturday night, a concept that has been around for decades, aka. Saturday Night Live.
Chieng then introduced Hall, who shared how Rock got him back into stand-up. Towards the end of his short set at the Comedy Store, Hall said he hopes everyone enjoys the night, “because I know somewhere Will Smith won’t.”
“Trust me. We don’t know, but I bet you Will Smith is going to knock the hell out of a TV tonight,” he joked. “He’s going to knock the hell out of the wall.”
Matthew McConaughey, Amy Schumer, Ali Wong, Woody Harrelson, Paul McCartney, Rosie Perez, Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart, Sarah Silverman, Ice-T, Adam Sandler and many others wished Rock well ahead of his live event.