What is on Chris Rock’s mind?
It’s a simple but valid question the world is asking after Will Smith beat the comedian during Sunday’s Oscars live on TV. The now infamous hit has been the talk of the day on every corner of the internet and television in the 48 hours since – but Rock has remained noticeably quiet.
That is, until Wednesday night, when Rock broke his silence and publicly addressed the issue at a standup show in Boston.
“Wow, okay!” he exclaimed as he took the stage at the Wilbur Theater in an all-white cast. Crowds in the 1,000-seat venue gave the 57-year-old a rock star welcome. Rock basked in a standing ovation that raged for almost two minutes before making another attempt to get the ball rolling for the evening: “Yo, let me do the show!”
After a few more moments of applause, Rock turned to the elephant in the room.
“As it was your Weekend?” He started with a knowing wink, triggering a burst of laughter. “I don’t have much on my mind about what happened, so if you’ve come to hear that, I’ve got a whole show to do wrote this weekend. I’m still processing what happened. So, eventually, I’m going to talk about this shit. And it’s going to be serious and fun.”
A bystander then chanted “Fuck Will Smith!” but Rock ignored the comment and began his hour-long set.
“I’m going to tell a few jokes,” he said. “It’s nice to just be outside.”
Before the show at 7:30 p.m., there was a little media hype, which became increasingly hectic outside the relatively nondescript theater. Two hours before the show, at least a dozen broadcast journalists were lined up, bundled up in the 30-degree New England weather.
“This is crazy,” exclaimed one viewer as he walked past countless cameras and on-air reporters around 6 p.m
— Rebecca Rubin (@rebeccaarubin) March 30, 2022
Before the performance, local religious leaders gathered outside the Wilbur Theater to make a statement about “the incident regarding our brothers” and “send a message that violence is not the way to resolve conflict.”
“This is an educational moment, so let’s end the cycle of underreported violence in the black community,” said Kevin C. Peterson, founder of the New Democracy Coalition, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization focused on civic engagement . to a small group of reporters.
The organizers of the event at the Wilbur did not seem happy with the crowds that formed on the scene.
“We have to get ready for a show,” lamented a Wilbur employee as he tried to set up safety ropes outside the venue. “We’re trying to work now.”
Boston-based Sam Wisnia, 24, thought it was a “fortunate coincidence” that Rock made his first public appearance not far from his hometown. He got tickets Monday morning after the Oscars and acted early enough to snag one for $70.
“I wasn’t watching [the Oscars] live, but I watched the clip a lot,” Wisnia said, alluding to the footage of Smith slapping Rock. “I hope he leads [his set] with the whole situation and he can find the humor in it.”
Another Boston native, 32-year-old Jesse Setaro, saw an Instagram ad for Rock’s show “after he was hit.” He paid $225 and thinks it’s a bargain compared to what others have spent. Setaro was not impressed by the circus of reporters around the theater. “Why shouldn’t they be here? It’s a historic night,” he said.
Wisnia and Setaro’s wallets were relatively lucky. Others in the crowd admitted to spending $800 to $1,200 to get in. Comedian Rick Ingram, who was Rock’s opening act, teased people on the balcony. “Never thought you’d pay $1,000 for the worst seats in the house…” he said during his set.
Rock’s silence may be why ticket sales for his stand-up comedy tour have been near impossible. Coincidentally, Rock has been booked to play several shows in Boston beginning Wednesday. He’s embarking on his “Ego Death World Tour” next month, starting in New Jersey. It’s the first time Rock has toured in five years.
His four-day stint in Boston began Wednesday at the 1,000-seat Wilbur Theater with a sold-out show at 7:30 p.m. and another at 10 p.m. Guests were required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Tickets quickly went up on Ticketmaster and were resold on StubHub and other ticket exchanges and resale sites for astronomical amounts. Original prices started at $49.50, but after the shocking Oscars spat, tickets for as much as $800-$8,000 were scalped on secondary sites. (Whether or not anyone actually bought the $8,000 tickets isn’t clear.) Admission to the 7:30 p.m. show was particularly coveted, as many expected Rock to be the first to publicly respond to Smith’s outburst of violence .
A StubHub representative said the site has seen “more than 25x daily sales” over the past two days compared to last month. “It’s incredibly unusual to see the surge that we’ve seen,” said Mike Silveira, spokesman for StubHub. Likewise the online ticket dealer TickPick wrote Monday on Twitter“We sold more tickets to see Chris Rock overnight than we did in the past month combined.”
The incident in question happened in the middle of the 94th Annual Academy Awards, when Rock presented the Best Documentary category on stage. The comedian started ranting about A-list celebrities in the audience before deviating from the script to make a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her shaved head. (The actress has alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss.)
“Jada, I love you: ‘GI Jane 2’ can’t wait to see it,” Rock said, referring to the 1997 action film in which Demi Moore’s character has a shaved head.
Smith initially laughed at the jab. But after reaching out to Pinkett Smith and noticing her epic eye roll at the joke, he quickly switched gears and took to the stage to smack Rock in the face. At first everyone – including Rock – thought the fuss was a bit, but it soon became clear that wasn’t the case.
“Oh, wow,” Rock said as Smith walked offstage. “Wow. Will Smith just blew me away.”
Returning to his seat, Smith yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your damn mouth.”
Rock replied, “Wow dude. It was a ‘GI Jane’ joke.” That prompted Smith to yell in a louder octave, “Keep my wife’s name out of your damn mouth!”
Rock appeared on stage, visibly shaken, and struggled to collect his thoughts. “It was, uh, the greatest night in television history,” he said.
Shortly after beating Rock, Smith received the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as tennis coach Richard Williams in King Richard, a feel-good sports drama in which he plays the father of tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams. In a tearful acceptance speech, Smith apologized to the Academy and his other best actor nominees, but he stopped mentioning rock. In his remarks, he also attempted to connect the controversy to his screen character in King Richard.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said. “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy dad, just like they said about Richard Williams.”
Later in his speech he said: “In this business you have to be able to have people treat you with disrespect. And you have to smile and pretend that’s okay.”
On Monday, Smith apologized to Rock on Instagram. “I want to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I’m embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.” He also said, “Jokes at my expense are part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s health was too much for me and I reacted emotionally .”
Rock declined to press charges, but the academy has launched an investigation into the situation to “explore further action and consequences,” a spokesman said.
https://variety.com/2022/film/news/chris-rock-responds-will-smith-oscars-slap-1235218763/ Chris Rock reacts to Will Smith’s Oscar slap on The Standup Show