Finding the humor. Chris Rock had a few choice words while reflecting on Will Smith‘s infamous slap during his Netflix stand-up special Selective Outrage — and he made sure to involve Jada Pinkett Smith in the drama.
The comedian, 58, took to the stage on Saturday, March 4, to address the controversial moment during Netflix’s first-ever live stand-up set.
“Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face,” Rock joked early on before bringing up the incident again later in the night. “I got smacked at the f—king Oscars by this motherf—ker. And people are like, ‘Did it hurt?’ It still hurts! I got ‘Summertime’ ringing in my ears.”
The Madagascar actor noted he did not want to spend too much time discussing the past. “I’m not a victim,” he continued. “You will never see [me crying about it]. Never gonna happen.”
He continued: “Will Smith is significantly bigger than me, we are not the same size. Will Smith does movies with his shirt off. You’ve never seen me do a movie with my shirt off. If I’m in a movie getting open heart surgery, I got on a sweater. Will Smith played Muhammad Ali in a movie; you think I auditioned for that part? I played Pookie in New Jack City. I played a piece of corn in Pootie Tang. Even in animation this motherf—ker’s bigger. I’m a zebra, he’s a shark.”
During his show, Rock said that the title was inspired by the slap, adding, “Will Smith practices Selective Outrage. Everybody who really knows, knows I had nothing to do with that s—t. I didn’t have any entanglements.”
The jokes referred to Pinkett Smith’s 2020 revelation that she was separated from Smith when an “entanglement” with August Alsina took place.
“We all been cheated on. Everybody in this industry has been cheated on,” Rock continued during the comedy special, before addressing the pair’s Red Table Talk discussion. “None of us have ever been interviewed by the person that cheated on us on television. Why the f—k would you do that s—t? She hurt him way more than he hurt me, OK?”
Rock has previously chosen not to shed too much light on his feud with Smith after the altercation first made headlines. In March 2022, the King Richard actor, 54, raised eyebrows when he slapped the South Carolina native during the Oscars. The altercation came shortly after Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.
At the time, Smith issued an apology for his “unacceptable and inexcusable” actions, writing via Instagram, “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
He continued: “I would also like to apologize to The Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.”
In response, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed that Smith would be banned from all Oscars events for 10 years following his resignation.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum addressed the situation again several months later in an emotional video on his YouTube channel. “I’ve spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment,” he explained in the July 2022 upload. “I’m not gonna try to unpack all of that right now. But I can say to all of you, there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”
Smith noted that he attempted to get in contact with Rock. “The message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk. And when he is, he will reach out,” he continued. “So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk. … I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of s–t. I am deeply remorseful and I am trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. Right? I’m human and I made a mistake.”
In the lengthy clip, the Philadelphia native clarified that his wife, 51, did not influence his decision to slap Rock. “I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it,” he shared, before addressing why he didn’t apologize during his acceptance speech that same night. “I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy.”
A source exclusively told Us Weekly that Pinkett Smith inspired her husband to discuss the situation on a public platform.
“Jada has also been pushing Will to apologize because it has become this really dark cloud over her Red Table Talk series,” the insider shared with Us, adding that Smith “never wanted to” publicly apologize but there was a constant wait for “any mention of that moment.”
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Chris Rock: Selective Outrage is streaming now on Netflix.