Chris Rock Finally Opens Up About Will Smith Slap

By Nathan Kamal | Published

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The shocking moment in which Chris Rock was slapped by Will Smith at the 94th Academy Awards is destined to be one of the infamous moments in award show history, up there with the time David Niven insulted a naked man on stage and when Warren Beatty got blamed for Faye Dunaway reading the wrong Best Picture winner. However, Chris Rock has remained relatively quiet about being the target of Will Smith’s anger and being on the front page of entertainment news for months. The comedian has finally opened up about the experience in the venue everyone would choose to discuss sensitive manners, Madison Square Garden. 

According to Harper’s Bazaar, Chris Rock finally addressed the Will Smith Academy Award incident with several jokes. The comic was performing a show with fellow comedy superstars Kevin Hart and Dave Chappelle, in what is being called the Only Headliners Allowed tour. Per various sources, Chris Rock took the microphone to directly say that he did not consider himself a victim. In fact, he said “Yeah, that s – – t hurt, motherf – – ker — but I shook that s – – t off and went to work the next day.” In general, one could probably have expected a full-handed slap from a man who trained for seven hours a day to portray the greatest boxer of all time to hurt quite a bit. 

It also seems that Chris Rock referenced the Will Smith slap at one point by joking “Anyone who says ‘words hurt’ has never been punched in the face,” apparently in a bit about the controversial concept of “cancel culture.” It is also being reported that at one point, Chris Rock brought a live goat on stage, which he allegedly referred to as Will Smith. The actual meaning of that particular move is a little difficult to parse; from one perspective, no one really likes being compared to a legendarily stubborn animal. From another, “GOAT” is a common acronym for “Greatest Of All Time,” so this could actually have been a kind of compliment from Chris Rock to Will Smith. Only time and greater context will be able to tell with that one.

Chris Rock brought Dave Chappelle on stage as a guest of his and Kevin Hart’s, which can only be seen as a controversial move right now. Only days ago, a venue canceled a performance by Dave Chappelle only hours before was scheduled to perform. Minneapolis First Avenue (notably the setting for the hit 1984 film Purple Rain) did not go into specific details for canceling Dave Chappelle’s performance, only stating that they “worked hard to make our venues the safest spaces in the country” and that they had lost sight of that. Dave Chappelle’s performance was moved to the nearby Varsity Theater. 

It is not currently known if Chris Rock’s on-stage jokes have received any response from Will Smith or his family. For now, it seems like Chris Rock, at least, is ready to move beyond the incident and incorporate it as material in his ongoing tour.