Chris Rock takes the stage in Boston for first time since Oscar slap
Chris Rock kicked off his first appearance since the smack heard ’round the world with a sold-out show at the Wilbur Theatre where he thanked the crowd for making him “all misty” after a 2-minute standing ovation.
“How was your weekend?” he told the crowd to laughter.
Those hanging around the theater ahead of the first evening show told the Herald they were “Team Chris.” Many were looking for tickets and others were happy they scored them for $50 — but that price soared to $1,245 for a later show.
Rock is in Boston through April 1 for his “Ego Death World Tour 2022.” He hit the stage, according to multiple reports, quickly addressing the slap he received from Will Smith at the Oscars Sunday night before moving on.
“I’m still kind of processing what happened,” he told the crowd, adding he was then “going to tell some jokes.”
The slap came mid-Oscars as he told a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it, all right?” Rock said Sunday from the stage of the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles ahead of his presentation for Oscar for best documentary.
The joke, directed at Pinkett Smith, was a reference to Demi Moore’s shaved-headed starring role in the 1997 film G.I. Jane — and it earned Rock a wallop of a smack onstage from Will Smith.
Pinkett Smith had shaved her head as she suffers from alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that creates areas of hair loss.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences also announced an hour before Rock took the stage in Boston that Will Smith was asked to leave Sunday’s Oscar ceremony after hitting the comedian but refused to do so.
Will Smith now faces possible disciplinary action that could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.
The smack was seen by a Nielsen-estimated 15 million viewers live. That’s in addition to the countless videos watched online after the fact and the deluge of memes and video remixes that bombarded social media for days.
“Certainly the most memorable moment in Oscars history in my opinion,” said Sam Wisnia of Boston. “Warren Beaty is now second place when he announced the wrong best picture.”
Standing next to him, Elyse Moretti agreed: “Definitely didn’t wake up to that many texts and Twitter notifications at any other moment in my life, I don’t think. My whole TikTok was just different memes. And I teach so everyone was talking about it, even the students.”
“This changed my opinion, I will never watch anything ever again of Will Smith’s. Ever. And you can quote me on that,” said Teresa Holts of Mansfield, who was attending the Rock show with her husband Mel to celebrate her birthday.
“We don’t embrace violence. Just over a joke?” Mel Holts said with his ticket fresh in hand. “That’s his job, he’s a comedian. Roasting, that’s his job.”
Another couple standing nearby had driven all the way from Buffalo, N.Y., for the Sparks show at the Shubert Theatre across the street, but they still had some strong opinions on the Smith and Rock controversy.
“Yeah, we’re Team Chris all the way,” Debbie Massaro said. “I haven’t spoken to anybody who is on Will’s side.”
“God Bless Chris Rock,” Tom Heneghan agreed. “And he (Smith) laughed at it! And nobody’s talking about that. And then I think somebody got in his ear and all of a sudden he’s got a cause celebre to make a big mistake in his life.”
Teresa Vukaj of Weymouth, but originally from Albania, said that she thinks the whole thing was a publicity stunt but could have just been an emotional moment. The others in the group, which couldn’t get tickets to the show, Kristi Vukaj and Joana Vuka agreed.
“To everyone thinking it’s fake — if you’ve ever seen a Chris Rock movie, he’s not a great dramatic actor,” said TJ Cole, who was going with his wife Tonya to the show. “So if he was faking holding his stuff together then that was the best acting he’s ever done in his entire life.”
At least two religious leaders held a short press conference. One of them, the Rev. Kevin Peterson, the founder of the New Democracy Coalition, said the Oscars smack was “a teachable moment and an opportunity for our spiritual leaders across the country, our political leaders across the country so that we end the cycle of violence that is underreported in the black community. This is an opportunity to turn toward each other in apology and reconciliation and not against each other.”