That was how Chris Rock opened his first comedy show since being slapped by Will Smith onstage during the Oscars, performing to a sold-out crowd Wednesday at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston. The audience gave Rock a standing ovation that lasted about five minutes, according to attendees.
Beyond his winking acknowledgment at the outset, Rock said that he is “still processing what happened,” but eventually he will talk about “that s**t.” Before the show, the venue manager said that Rock was “in a great mood.”
Smith has since apologized to everyone involved; however, Rock’s brother said Smith had yet to reach out personally to the comedian. Despite Smith’s mea culpas, many continued to condemn his actions, including Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes, who called Smith’s actions “sickening.”
On the same day Rock returned to stand-up, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, announced that, after holding an emergency meeting on the matter, it had “initiated disciplinary proceedings” against Smith for violations of its code of conduct. His offenses were “inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior and compromising the integrity of the Academy,” the group wrote in a statement, also revealing that he was asked to leave the Kodak Theatre following the altercation but declined.
Smith, who collected the Best Actor award for King Richard following the incident, was given an opportunity to respond; members will vote April 18 on whether to suspend, expel or sanction him in another way.
“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the Academy’s statement continued. “Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event,” the statement reads. “Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”