BOSTON (AP) — Comedian Chris Rock will make his first public appearance on Wednesday since Oscar-winning actor Will Smith punched him for a prank about Smith’s wife on the Academy Awards show.
The first set of Rock kicks off in Boston at 7:30 PM. The performance comes just three days after Smith hit Rock on the Oscar stagestuns audiences at the 94th Academy Awards and those watching at home.
Rock had been joking about Jada Pinkett Smith’s flashy haircut. Pinkett Smith has spoken publicly about her diagnosis of alopecia, which can cause baldness†
‘Jada, I love you. ‘GI Jane 2, I can’t wait to see it,’ Rock said as he handed out an award, comparing Pinkett Smith to Demi Moore’s character ‘GI Jane’, who had a buzz cut in the 1997 film.
Smith promptly rose from his seat at the front of the room and went onstage, punching Rock in the face before sitting back down and yelling at Rock to keep his wife’s name out of his mouth.
Within an hour, Smith won the award for best actor, received a standing ovation. During his five-minute acceptance speech, Smith spoke about defending his family and apologized to the academy. A day later, Smith apologized to the comedianto the academy and to viewers at home, who said he was “outside the box” and that his actions “are not typical of the man I want to be”.
Ticket prices to Rock’s shows skyrocketed after the blow. George Guay, a 24-year-old Boston fan who grew up with “Everybody Hates Chris,” said he bought a ticket after the Academy Awards.
“He’s the most popular celebrity, so I want to be here,” Guay said, adding that he hopes Rock is open with a response to the situation. “I just want a good show.”
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences condemned Smith for hitting Rock. The board of governors met on Wednesday to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violating the group’s standards of conduct. The academy said it asked Smith to leave Sunday’s Oscar ceremony after hitting Rock, but he refused to do so.
Los Angeles police said on Sunday they were aware of what happened, but would not investigate because the person involved refused to report to the police.
Pinkett Smith responded Tuesday with an image on Instagram that read, “This is a season of healing and I’m here for it.” She offered no further comment.
It wasn’t the first time Rock had made a joke at the expense of Pinkett Smith. When he hosted the 2016 Oscars, some people boycotted the ceremony because of the #OscarsSoWhite group of nominees, including the Smiths. Rock then said: “Boycotting Jada the Oscars is like boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I was not invited.”
Some academy members, such as writer-producer Marshall Herskovitz, called on the academy to take disciplinary action against Smith.
Wanda Sykes, who co-hosted the Oscars with Amy Schumer and Regina Hall, said: she felt physically ill after Smith hit Rock. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres that will air on April 7, Sykes also said that Smith should not have been allowed to stay and receive his award.
Some also questioned the decision to let Smith sit front and center after hitting Rock. Several stars rushed to advise and calm Smith, including Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper and Tyler Perry.
The drama overshadowed some historic Oscar wins. The deaf family drama “CODA” became the first film with a largely deaf cast to win the Best Picture award. For the first time, a streaming service, Apple TV+, grabbed Hollywood’s highest honor, signaling a dramatic shift in Hollywood and in the cinema. Wins for Ariana DeBose of ‘West Side Story’, Troy Kotsur of ‘CODA’ and Jane Campion, director of ‘The Power of the Dog’, had all made history.