In his opening monologue — which you can watch above — host and stand-up comic Jerrod Carmichael didn’t even have to say Will Smith’s name, or Chris Rock’s or the Oscars, but we all knew exactly what he was talking about. “I’m not gonna talk about it,” he began. “I’ve talked about it enough… You can’t make me talk about it.” But talk about it he did: “Can you believe it’s been six days?… Doesn’t it feel like it happened years ago? Doesn’t it feel like it happened when we were all in high school? Like, it feels like it happened somewhere between Jamiroquai and 9/11.”
He traced his reaction throughout the week: “On Monday, it was exciting. I’m not gonna lie.” But “by Wednesday, I wanted to kill myself… By Friday, I made a vow to myself that I would never, ever talk about it again… and then [SNL producer] Lorne [Michaels] came into my dressing room.” As Carmichael recalls, “He said the nation needs to heal… And you want me to do that? The nation doesn’t even know me! I have to be the least famous host in SNL history.”
Earlier in the cold open, James Austin Johnson’s Donald Trump addressed the slap as well, referring to Smith as “Hitch”: “I did see slap. I enjoyed slap. I was very impressed with my Hitch. You know, quite an arm on Hitch. I always knew Hitch had an arm… It’s a sad night for Hitch, too. A very sad night. That kind of behavior is not gonna help Kevin James get a date with Allegra Cole, I’ll tell ya that much.”
In case you missed it, at this past Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, Rock was presenting the award for Best Documentary Feature when he made a joke at the expense of Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith. Smith walked up to the stage and took a swing at Rock. “Wow, Will Smith just smacked the s–t out of me,” Rock said. Then Smith, who had returned to his seat, yelled from the audience, “Keep my wife’s name out your f–king mouth” and repeated it after Rock protested that the dig had just been a joke.
Later in the ceremony, Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard in the film King Richard. Smith addressed the incident (albeit indirectly) in his acceptance speech, apologizing to the Academy and to his fellow nominees — though, pointedly, not to Rock.
Smith has since apologized to Rock in a statement on Instagram, saying: “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable… I was out of line, and I was wrong.” He also resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the wake of the incident, although he could still face further punishment from the Academy. Jada Pinkett Smith offered her own cryptic statement on Tuesday, saying simply: “This is a season for healing and I’m here for it.”
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