Chris Rock gears up for first show since Will Smith hit him

BOSTON — Comedian Chris Rock will make his first public appearance on Wednesday since Oscar-winning actor Will Smith punched him for a joke 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 stage, stunning 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’ 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 movie.

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 Best Actor award and 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 comedian, the academy and viewers at home, saying he was “out of line” and that his actions “are not typical of the man I want to be”.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences condemned Smith for hitting Rock and said it would launch an investigation.

After convening a board of governors that met Monday to discuss the confrontation, the film academy said it will review Smith’s actions and “examine further action and consequences consistent with our statutes, standards of conduct and California law.”

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 from the Oscars is like boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t 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 punched 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 ‘West Side Story’ Ariana DeBose, ‘CODA’ Troy Kotsur and ‘The Power of the Dog’ director Jane Campion had all made history.

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