In his first public appearance since the Oscars, Chris Rock was given a standing ovation by patrons of the opening show to his Ego Death World Tour. Lasting nearly three minutes, the audience in the jam-packed Wilbur theatre stood up, sat down and then stood up again in raucous support of the comedian, who was slapped onstage by Will Smith after making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s Alopecia.
The comic broke his silence about the incident, though he did not address it directly. Asking his audience how their weekends went, Rock shared that he was “still kinda processing what happened” and that he would talk about “that sh*t…at some point.” Rock said, “it will be serious, and it will be funny.”
Just hours earlier, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ (AMPAS) Board of Governors held a meeting to discuss Will Smith’s actions. According to a statement released by the Academy, it has initiated proceedings against Smith for violating the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, regarding “inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.” The Academy even went on to state that “Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused.”
The Academy has decided to continue with disciplinary proceedings, providing Smith with 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding the consequences of his actions. On the table is suspension, expulsion or “other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct”. This may even include the Academy pressing charges against the actor, in which case he could be found guilty of a misdemeanour charge of assault, facing up to six months in jail and a fine of $100,000. This decision will be made at the next meeting of the Board on 18 April, 2022.
In a statement, the Academy noted, “Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. 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.”
“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated…” the statement continued. “We also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”
Unsurprisingly, Rock’s Ego Death World Tour has seen a surge in ticket sales with the first few dates selling out in the aftermath of the incident. Event organisers TickPick added that the price for the tickets on the secondary market jumped over 200 percent and that they sold more tickets overnight than they did in the whole of the past month.