There was no way Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel was going to let the anniversary of one of the most talked-about moments in the ceremony’s history go by without at least a passing mention.
Indeed, it wasn’t long into Kimmel’s monologue at the start of Sunday’s Academy Awards that the comedian made a joke about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock during the 2022 broadcast.
“We have strict policies in place” regarding violence during the ceremony, Kimmel told the crowd at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood during his opening remarks. “If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence… you will be awarded the Oscar for Best Actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech.”
The audience reaction was robust, and the laughs continued as Kimmel elaborated. He mentioned the show’s crisis team, which was put in place to handle a situation like last year’s slap. And if something should happen, Kimmel advised the crowd, “just do what you did last year: nothing. Sit there and do absolutely nothing. Maybe even give the assailant a hug!”
"If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for best actor and permitted to give a 19-minute long speech."#Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel addresses "the slap" in his opening monologue. https://t.co/J1mqrghZrf pic.twitter.com/E5dHUKLAPA
— ABC News (@ABC) March 13, 2023
The slap in question took place more than two hours into the March 2022 Oscars telecast, after Rock made a GI Jane joke aimed at Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who is bald and has previously spoken publicly about her hair loss condition, alopecia. Not long after the incident, Smith won the Best Actor award for his work in King Richard and delivered an emotional acceptance speech where he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees. He was subsequently banned from all Academy events, including the annual presentation of the Oscars, for 10 years.
Smith apologized to Smith via social media the day after the ceremony, and then in greater detail in a video released in July. “There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment,” Smith says in the video. “There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”
Rock waited longer to address the slap, making it the closing bit of his recent live Netflix stand-up special, Selective Outrage.
And if anyone at this year’s ceremony did take extreme issue with a joke, Kimmel added, they were going to have to go through his protective detail, which included Michael B. Jordan, Michelle Yeoh, Pedro Pascal, Andrew Garfield “and Guillermo” Kimmel joked, correcting the camera operator when the screens showed a close-up of Pinnochio director Guillermo del Toro instead of Kimmel’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez. “I know he’s cute, but make no mistake,” Kimmel said of his co-worker. “That sweet little man will beat the Lydia Tár out of you.” (For more of Kimmel’s monologue, go here.)
Watch the video above, then grade Kimmel’s Slap commentary via the poll below and hit the comments with your thoughts!