At a headlining show at London’s O2 Arena, Rock made it clear he was less than pleased with the apology that Will Smith posted in July.
Chris Rock has finally addressed the video Will Smith posted to apologize for slapping him at the Oscars in March. Rock and fellow comedian Dave Chapelle are currently on the road for their headlining stand-up tour, and both have been including references to their recent onstage assaults in their sets. The tour’s latest stop at London’s O2 Arena over the weekend saw Rock dedicating a portion of the gig to talking about Smith’s video.
Titled “It’s been a minute…,” Smith posted the apology to YouTube in July, just over 4 months after the slap heard around the world made headlines and took over the internet. In the nearly six-minute video, Smith discusses the incident and says it inspired “a lot of thinking and personal work,” continuing by apologizing to Rock, the comedian’s family, and his own fans. He says he had reached out to Rock, but that “the message that came back was that he’s not ready to talk.” An anonymous source close to Rock responded that he “doesn’t need to talk” shortly after the video was released. Like the slap itself, Smith’s video immediately went viral and was met with droves of both praise and criticism.
At the London show, Rock began the slap references with some familiar lines used at other recent sets. “Yes, that sh– hurt. He played Ali; I can’t even play Floyd Mayweather,” he said before again referring to Smith as “Suge Smith,” a reference to former Death Row Records executive Suge Knight, who is currently in prison for voluntary manslaughter. “F– your hostage video,” Rock continued. When Chapelle took the stage later in the night, he said he didn’t know how he would have responded if it had been him that Smith slapped at the Oscars, but that he’s “certain” Smith would not have enjoyed the rest of his time there.
Rock also confirmed to another recent audience that the Academy asked him to host next year’s ceremony, which he declined. He then compared the invitation to asking Nicole Brown Simpson to return to the restaurant where she left her glasses the night she was murdered, a comment that also sparked controversy. While his responses to the media about the incident have been limited, the Ego Death World Tour has been rife with slap references since Rock hit the road with Chapelle earlier this year. The response they continue to receive nearly six months later seems like a clear indicator that no one will be forgetting about the slap anytime soon – Rock and Smith least of all.
Smith has since resigned from the Academy and been banned from all Academy-sanctioned events, including the Oscars, for the next 10 years. Rock and Chapelle will be continuing their stand-up tour in Europe before bringing it back to America at the end of September for its final leg. Even without Rock or Smith in attendance at next year’s Oscars, it now feels safe to assume that whoever signs on to host is going to have to contend with a big elephant in the room.