Chris Rock does surprise set at NYC’s Comedy Cellar, has message for audience about Oscars slap

Chris Rock is now best known as the man who was slapped by Will Smith at the Oscar’s.

The 57-year-old used to be a well-known comedian and actor, but that’s ancient history—it belongs to Rock’s pre-slap incarnation. Now, and forever after, Chris Rock will be known as the man whose face encountered Will Smith’s open hand in a decidedly ungentle fashion.

In the latest update on the Hollywood kerfuffle, the famous recipient of the “slap heard around the world” is keeping quiet about the notorious affair. Rock’s most recent public appearance was on Tuesday night when the comedian showed up for a surprise stand-up performance at New York City’s Comedy Cellar.

However, despite his enthusiastic welcome by a thrilled audience, Rock made it known right off the bat that he was not interested in weighing in on the Will Smith controversy.

“Lower your expectations,” he reportedly told the crowd, according to a Page Six informant. “I’m not going to address that sh*t.”

Nevertheless, Rock insists his protracted silence on the matter is due simply to a need to take stock of what happened and sort out his own feelings on the incident.

“I had a whole show before this weekend,” he joked in another appearance last week. “I’m still processing.”

During his surprise set at the Comedy Cellar, Rock told the audience that he would speak about the Smith slap at some point, “but right now I’m going to tell some jokes.”

And, true to form, that’s precisely what he proceeded to do.

The cynical might observe that Rock has a vested interest in not speaking about the incident anytime soon. After all, his “Ego Death” comedy tour, which kicked off last week, sold out in the wake of the Will Smith wallop.

Each time Rock appears at a show, there’s an eager expectation that he’ll finally dish about his experience; and each time he refuses to do so, he keeps building up anticipation for the next appearance. It’s a savvy business move if that’s his angle.

Things got even saucier during Rock’s comedy show in Boston last Thursday night. In what was likely a rather tasteless show of support for the comedian, one fan shouted “F*ck Will Smith!”

According to People magazine, however, Rock wasn’t having any of it: “No, no, no, no, no…” he said, squelching that sort of thing right away.

But he did address rumors that he and Smith had buried the hatchet. “I haven’t talked to anyone,” he said, “despite what you heard.”

In the meantime, the backlash against Smith has been harsh.

On Friday, the superstar actor resigned from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. He lamented his behavior at the Oscar’s ceremony, saying it was “shocking, painful and inexcusable.” He also said he would submit to whatever punishments the Academy’s Board of Governors saw fit to mete out.

“The list of those I have hurt is long,” he went on to say, “and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home.

“I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.”


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Todd Jaquith


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