Everything Chris Rock Has Said About the Slap Since the 2022 Oscars


Think you’ve heard everything there possibly is to hear about what went down between Will Smith and Chris Rock at last year’s Oscar ceremony? Think again. Rock reportedly plans to address “the slap” in his new comedy special, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage—Netflix’s first-ever global live streaming event—out Saturday, March 4. But though this is being touted as a watershed event, Rock hasn’t exactly been under a code of silence about the infamous slap over the past year. 

First, a recap: At last year’s Oscar ceremony, Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her mostly shorn hair, saying, “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2—can’t wait to see it.” Pinkett Smith—who’s been vocal about her struggles with alopecia—was visibly annoyed by Rock’s dig, prompting her husband to storm the stage and swiftly slap Rock across the face. Immediately after the slap, a stunned Rock announced to the audience, “Wow. Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.” 

While the Academy struggled with how to respond to Smith’s outburst at the ceremony, Rock was reportedly “in shock” backstage after the slap—and, like any comedian worth his salt, diffused the moment with a joke. “I just took a punch from Muhammad Ali,” Rock told lead Oscar producer Will Packer, referencing Smith’s Oscar-nominated portrayal of the late boxer in the 2001 biopic Ali. 

In the aftermath of the event, Rock eschewed traditional forms of media to talk about what happened at the Oscars—no morning-show interview, no magazine cover, no Oprah tell-all à la Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Instead, he has shared his thoughts about the slap via his comedy. 

Here’s a timeline of what Rock has said about the slap, and when he said it: 

March 30, 2022: Rock performs his first stand-up show post-slap at The Wilbur in Boston, just three days after the slap occurred. “How was your weekend?” the comedian quips, to uproarious applause.

“I don’t have a bunch of shit about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend,” Rock tells the crowd. “I’m still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point, I’ll talk about that shit. And it will be serious and funny.”

April 2, 2022: At a show in Atlantic City, Rock reportedly says that he’s had “an interesting week” and jokes that Atlantic City is “too close” to Philly, slyly referencing Smith’s hometown. 

April 8, 2022: At a comedy show in Indio, California, Rock jokes, “Life is good. I got my hearing back.” Again, though, he says he won’t spend too much time discussing the incident. “I’m okay,” he says. “I have a whole show [to perform]”—one he wrote pre-slap—“and I’m not talking about that until I get paid.”

May 3, 2022: Rock opens for Dave Chappelle at the Netflix Is a Joke festival. He’s present when Chappelle is attacked by an armed audience member who rushes onto the stage at the Hollywood Bowl. (The then 23-year-old man, Isaiah Lee, was arrested, and he ultimately pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery and trespassing charges. He was sentenced to 270 days in county jail last December.) “Was that Will Smith?” Rock says into the mic when Lee is apprehended, returning to the stage.

May 5, 2022: Two nights later, Chappelle and Rock discuss their attacks together onstage. “At least you got smacked by someone of repute! I got smacked by a homeless guy with leaves in his hair,” Chappelle tells Rock. Rock reportedly responds: “I got smacked by the softest n—a that ever rapped.”

July 29, 2022: Smith releases a nearly six-minute-long YouTube apology video addressing Rock, Rock’s mother, and Rock’s brother Tony Rock. “I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you,” Smith says in the video, directly to camera. “My behavior was unacceptable, and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.” 

That same day, Rock jokes about the slap while performing his set at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre. “Everybody is trying to be a fucking victim,” Rock says, according to People. “If everybody claims to be a victim, then nobody will hear the real victims. Even me getting smacked by Suge Smith”—a reference to incarcerated Death Row Records cofounder Suge Knight—“I went to work the next day, I got kids.” 


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