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Chris Rock slaps back at Will Smith in live Netflix special

When Will Smith punched Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars, many members of the live audience and home TV viewers thought it was a prank — until they realized, to their horror, that it wasn’t.

After making little comment on the incident during his concert tour last year and declining numerous interview requests, Rock finally hit back on Saturday. The comedic slapback came during Rock’s Netflix special “Selective Outrage,” which aired live worldwide from Baltimore’s Hippodrome Performing Arts Center.

“You never know who’s going to get triggered,” Rock, dressed in an all-white outfit, joked in a (thinly) veiled allusion to the slap in the opening moments of his set, promising a show that wouldn’t offend anyone. “Anyone who says ‘Words hurt’ has never been punched in the face.”

Later, during a riff on Snoop Dogg doing so many commercials, he made a more pointed reference to Smith, who started out as a musician: “I’m not dissing Snoop,” he said to a raucous laugh. “The last thing I need is another crazy rapper.”

For much of the special, however, Rock avoided the highly anticipated subject of meeting Smith to follow his friend and fellow Netflix comedian Dave Chappelle into an extended discussion of “waking up” — including Chappelle’s regular target, transgender people — and nodded. . to such low-hanging comedic fruits as OJ Simpson, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and the Kardashians.

He also included tense material about keeping opioids and how the fact that he’s paid for abortions is a sign he’s pro-choice: “I’ve paid for more abortions than any woman in this room.”

Expectations were high for Rock to discuss the attack during the special — his first since Netflix’s “Chris Rock: Tamborine” — after previously telling the audience that he would need to be paid before talking about the incident.

The premiere of “Selective Outrage” comes just days after Smith received a special award from the African American Critics Assn. for his performance in ‘Emancipation’, in which he plays a runaway slave. His performance was his first personal speech since the Oscars. Earlier this week, he was honored with a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for “Emancipation.”

The explosive Oscar moment came when Rock presented the award for best documentary. After Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, the actor jumped off his chair, went on stage and punched Rock in the face.

Less than an hour later, Smith was back on stage, this time with a tearful but awkward reference to the attack as he accepted the lead actor award for “King Richard.” Days later, he resigned from the Academy of Motion Pictures and received a 10-year ban from academy activities, including the Oscars.

The attack became the dominant talking point of last year’s Academy Awards, tarnishing what had been a vigorous celebration of Black achievement and excellence until then. He has occasionally discussed the incident, posting an Instagram video in July and making brief remarks during interviews promoting “Emancipation.”


This story will be updated with more from Rock’s live special, “Selective Outrage.”