Comedian Chris Rock has finally broken his silence and addressed the Will Smith slap topic publicly at a standup show in Boston.
“Whoa, OK!” he exclaimed upon entering the stage at the Wilbur Theatre in an all-white ensemble. Audience members in the 1,000-seat venue greeted the 57-year-old with a rock star’s welcome, reports ‘Variety’. Comedian Chris Rock basked in the standing ovation, which thundered on for nearly two minutes, before he made another effort to get the ball rolling for the evening: “Yo, let me do the show!”
According to ‘Variety’, after a few additional moments of applause, Rock addressed the elephant in the room. “How was your weekend?” he began with a knowing wink, drawing a wave of laughter.
“I don’t have a bunch of shit about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend. I’m still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point I’ll talk about that shit. And it will be serious and funny.”
An audience member then chanted “F*** Will Smith!” but Chris Rock ignored the comment and began his hour-long set. “I’m going to tell some jokes,” he said. “It’s nice to just be out.”
Ahead of the 7:30 p.m. show, there was a small media frenzy that grew increasingly hectic outside the relatively inconspicuous theatre. There were at least a dozen broadcast journalists set up as early as two hours before showtime, bundled up in the 30-degree New England weather.
“This is insane,” one onlooker shouted as he walked by troves of cameras and on-air reporters. Prior to showtime, local religious leaders gathered in front of the Wilbur Theatre to make a statement about “the incident regarding our brothers” and “send a message that violence is not the way to resolve conflict”.
Chris Rock-Will Smith at Oscars 2022
“This is a teachable moment so we end the cycle of violence that is underreported in the Black community,” said Kevin C. Peterson, founder of the New Democracy Coalition, a non-partisan and non-profit organisation that focuses on civic engagement, to a small crowd of reporters. Event organisers at the Wilbur did not seem pleased with the masses that were forming on the scene.
“We have to get ready for a show,” one Wilbur employee lamented as he attempted to set up security ropes in front of the venue. “We’re trying to work now.” Boston resident Sam Wisnia, 24, felt it was “serendipitous” that Rock was scheduled to make his first public appearance only a short distance from his hometown. He got tickets on Monday morning following the Oscars and acted early enough that he nabbed one for $70.
“I didn’t watch (the Oscars) live, but I watched the clip plenty of times,” said Wisnia, alluding to the footage of Smith slapping Chris Rock.
“I hope he leads [his set] with the whole situation, and he can find the humour in it.”
Another Boston local, 32-year-old Jesse Setaro, saw an Instagram ad for Rock’s show “after he got smacked”. He paid $225 and considers that a steal compared to what others spent. Setaro was unfazed by the circus of reporters around the theatre. “Why wouldn’t they be here? It’s a historic night,” he said.
Wisnia and Setaro’s wallets were relatively lucky. Others in the crowd admitted to shelling out $800 to $1,200 for admission. Comedian Rick Ingram, who was Rock’s opening act, teased people in the balcony. “Never thought you’d pay $1,000 for the worst seats in the house” he said during his set.
Rock’s silence is perhaps the reason that ticket sales for his stand-up comedy tour were nearly impossible to come by. By coincidence, Rock was booked to play several shows in Boston beginning on Wednesday.
He embarks on his “Ego Death World Tour” next month, which starts in New Jersey. It’s the first time that Rock has gone on the road in five years.
His four-day stint in Boston commenced on Wednesday at the 1,000-seat Wilbur Theatre, with one sold-out show. Guests were required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Tickets went quickly on Ticketmaster and were being resold on StubHub and other ticket exchange and resell websites for astronomically high amounts.
Original prices started at $49.50, but, in the wake of the shocking Oscars altercation, tickets were being scalped for as much as $800 to $8,000 on secondary sites. Admission to the 7:30 p.m. show was in especially high demand because many anticipated it would be the first time Rock would publicly respond to Smith’s violent outburst.
A StubHub representative said the site experienced “more than 25 times the daily sales” over the past two days compared to the last month. “It is incredibly unusual to see the spike we have experienced,” said Mike Silveira, spokesperson for StubHub. Similarly, the online ticket reseller TickPick wrote Monday on Twitter, “We sold more tickets to see Chris Rock overnight than we did in the past month combined.”
The incident in question occurred in the middle of the 94th annual Academy Awards, as Rock presented the best documentary feature category on stage. The comedian began riffing about A-list celebrities in the audience before going off script to make a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith and her shaved head. The actress has alopecia, a medical condition that results in hair loss.Instagram & Facebook to keep yourself updated with the latest news and reviews.