Late night show hosts have weighed in on the stunning moment when Will Smith smacked comedian and Oscar presenter Chris Rock across the face on national television over a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
They seem to generally agree that Will Smith should have chosen a different way to express his anger, but remember, these are comedians, of course they made a joke out of the entire ordeal in their show opening monologues.
Jimmy Kimmel, host of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, is the only person among the late-night gang who has hosted the Oscars — which he did in 2017 and 2018 — so he has first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to lead one of the biggest shows on television.
He spoke about the experience and how the host first thought everything was staged. “I was watching like most people, and I said to my wife “they did a really good job with that punch – it looked so real,” he said. “And about three seconds later, we realized it was because it was real.”
And that’s when his reaction went from excitement to concern.
“In one stunning moment – the night went from “Oscars – So What?” To “Oscars So WHAAAAAAT?!,” Kimmel said, adding later, “I’m a little bummed because I’ve only hosted the second craziest Oscars of all time.”
That was a reference to the 2017 Oscars hosted by Kimmel where La La Land was mistakenly announced as Best Picture winner instead of Moonlight.
Many have compared last night’s slap to a boxing match, and Kimmel added some perspective on that idea. “It was so shocking. The only thing I can really compare it to is when Mike Tyson bit Holyfield’s ears.”
He also addressed the reaction inside Dolby Theatre.
“And by the way no one did anything,” he said. A whole room full of people- No one lifted a finger. Spider-Man was there. Aquaman was there. Catwoman – all sitting on their hands. No one helped Chris Rock.”
The Late Show host Stephen Colbert offered a word of advice for Smith. “If you really want to hurt a comedian, don’t laugh! That hurts way more than a punch. I promise you.”
Late-night hosts evoked several of Smith’s movies.
Kimmel called the incident “the old Hitch slap.”
Is the slap the worst thing Smith has ever done? Colbert doesn’t agree with that. “That is the worst thing Will Smith has ever done…Wait, forgot about Wild Wild West. I’m kidding the worst thing he’s ever done is Gemini Man,” he said.
The Late Show host is confident that next year’s award show is going to look similar to the Thunderdome. “So get ready for next year’s 95th Academy award Oscar Slaptacular death match. Five nominees enter, one exits.”
The Late Show also took aim at the standing ovation Smith received when he won the Best Actor Oscar.
On Late Night With Seth Meyers, he had fellow television host Amber Ruffin giving her personal recap of the Academy Awards.
“I know why they don’t have a category for best horror movie because the best horror movie is the Oscars,” she said.
She mentioned that she spoke with her sister and how her feelings in the moment consumed her and hampered her Oscar viewing experience.
“His [Smith] acceptance speech was 5 minutes and 25 seconds, and I did not breathe for five minutes and 25 seconds,” Ruffin remarked. “The Earth cracked open and I slipped through. I heard echoes of I’m sorry, but not to Chris Rock.”
The host finished off her recap by mentioning what she saw when saw on social media and the public reaction. “I scrolled Twitter and I read jokes and thinking pieces and opinions about it and while I felt I had seen something horrible and private that made me feel great shame, I found out everyone in America felt the same way I did. And that my friends is the magic of the Oscars!”
Like his colleagues, Jimmy Fallon opened The Tonight Show talking about the controversy before taking a turn.
“Of course I have to address the big moment everyone is talking about and that is Questlove winning the Oscar for Best Documentary!,” Fallon said of the Tonight Show’s hose band, The Roots.
Questlove won directly after the incident that happened on stage in the category presented by Rock. Many are saying his winning moment was marred by the controversy.
The 94th Academy Awards was clearly not your typical awards broadcast. “It was a strange award show when it ends with a statement from the LAPD,” Fallon said.
He found a silver lining in the shock from the moment Smith smacked Rock. “America may be divided, but it was kinda nice for all of us to come together and say ‘Holy Crap’ at the same time.”
Late Late Show’s James Corden applauded Rock for his response to the incident, continuing with the presentation of his category.
“I’ll say this, Will Smith cannot take a joke, Chris Rock can tale a punch.”
Cordon also did a parody of the song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” inspired by the Will Smith controversy, “We Don’t Talk About Jada,” which recapped the Oscars.
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