Comedian Chris Rock opened his show in Boston on Wednesday night, briefly addressing the “clap heard” around the world.
Rock embarks on a worldwide stand-up comedy tour, making his first public appearance since being punched onstage by actor Will Smith at the Oscars.
Variety reports that Rock has told the Boston audience that he is still working through the incident and that he will talk about the incident in detail at some point, but not on his first show. He then began work on the comedy set he had written for Sunday’s hit at the Oscars.
Meanwhile, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a statement Wednesday that Smith “was asked to leave the ceremony” after the altercation, but he declined to do so.
“We also recognize that we could have handled the situation differently,” the Academy said.
According to the Academy, the Board of Directors formally initiated “disciplinary proceedings” against Smith on Wednesday for violating the organization’s standards of conduct, “including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior and endangering the integrity of the Academy.” Smith was given advance notice of a vote on the violations and potential sanctions, and he will be given the opportunity to submit a written response, the organization said.
“At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take disciplinary action, including suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by statute and standards of conduct,” the Academy said.
“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness personally and on television,” the Academy said. “Mr. Rock, we apologize for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience at the time. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what happened during what was a festive event should have been.”
Aside from a possible suspension or expulsion from the Academy, Smith is unlikely to withdraw his Best Actor Oscar for “King Richard.” The Academy has previously expelled members, including Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski and Harvey Weinstein, but none of them have been forced to surrender previous Oscar wins.
Rock was on the Dolby Theater stage on Sunday night to present the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, but he joked about Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, and her bald head, suggesting she would star in a sequel to “GI Jane.”
Pinkett Smith has talked about having alopecia with hair loss in the past.
Smith, who was sitting at the front of the theater, walked onto the stage and punched Rock in the face, then returned to his seat, yelled at Rock twice and told him to “keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth. “
When he later won the Best Actor Oscar for “King Richard” — for his portrayal of the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams — he tearfully apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, but not to Rock.
Smith issued a formal written apology Monday, saying, “Violence in all its forms is toxic and destructive.”
“My behavior at the Academy Awards last night was unacceptable and unforgivable. Jokes at my expense are part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me and I reacted emotionally,” he said.
“I want to apologize publicly, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am ashamed 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.
“I also want to apologize to the Academy, the show’s producers, everyone in attendance and everyone watching around the world. I want to apologize to the Williams family and my ‘King Richard’ family. I deeply regret that my behavior has colored what was an otherwise wonderful journey for all of us.
“I am a work in progress.”
On Tuesday, Jada Pinkett Smith wrote on Instagram: “This is a season for healing and I’m here for it.”
Rock has not made any public comments since the altercation. But ticket sales quickly started to pick up for his comedy tour.
“We sold more tickets to see Chris Rock at night than in the past month combined,” ticket company TickPick tweeted Monday.
Rock’s tour, dubbed the “Chris Rock Ego Death World Tour 2022,” kicks off in Boston on Wednesday and concludes with stops at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater — the site of the infamous blow — November 17-18. It will appear on April 8 at the Fantasy Springs Resort in Riverside County.
Meanwhile, reactions are piling up in Hollywood.
Amy Schumer, who co-hosted Sunday’s ceremony with Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, wrote on her Instagram page late Monday that she was “still traumatized and traumatized.”
“I love my boyfriend (Rock) and believe he handled it like a pro,” she wrote. “Stayed up there and gave an Oscar to his friend (Questlove) and the whole thing was so upsetting. So much pain in (Smith). Anyway, I’m still in shock and stunned and sad. I’m proud of myself and my co-hosts. But yeah. Waiting for this sickening feeling to go away from what we’ve all seen.”
Sykes, who appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, also said she was “still a little traumatized” by the altercation. She also denounced the decision to let Smith stay at the Dolby Theater and accept the Oscar after attacking Rock.
“For them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and take his award, I thought, how gross is this? This is just the wrong message,” she said. “You attack someone, you get escorted out of the building and that’s it. I thought it was disgusting that they let him go through. Besides, I wanted to be able to run away after he won and say, ‘Unfortunately, Will could’ I’m here tonight not.”‘