scorecardresearch Skip to main content

At the Wilbur, Chris Rock says he’s ‘still processing’ that slap

The comedian addresses the Oscar night confrontation with Will Smith for the first time

Chris Rock entered the Wilbur Theatre before the first of his two stand-up performances Wednesday night.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

It took a few minutes for the crowd to settle down after Chris Rock took the stage at the Wilbur on Wednesday night.

”Let me do the show!” he hollered, his oversized shadow looming large behind him. Then: “How was your weekend?”

It might have been the easiest laugh the comedian has ever earned. Anticipation for Rock’s first show after Sunday night, when he was on the receiving end of the Slap Heard Round the World, was higher than the scalpers’ ticket prices for a seat at the Wilbur. Rock is performing six shows in all in Boston this week, including two Wednesday.


Rock begged off the subject of his altercation with Will Smith at the Academy Awards, which occurred after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Smith’s wife. “I’m still kind of processing what happened,” he said.

Still, the crowd that greeted him with a pair of standing ovations hung on his every word. He joked at length about COVID, America’s political divide, and the preponderance of “fake outrage.” When a commotion in the audience briefly interrupted his delivery, he muttered, “Is this how the tour’s gonna be?”

But he quickly regained his composure, wrapping up an extended run about his absurd wealth and his daughters’ world of privilege. By then, Rock was surely glad to have the first show since the weekend’s confrontation out of the way.

It’s unclear whether this was the commotion in the audience that Rock was reacting to, but Boston police received multiple calls from people at the theater beginning at 8:36 p.m. and officers arrested one person, according to Officer Kim Tavares, a Boston police spokeswoman. No further details on the arrest were immediately available Wednesday night.

While Rock had little to say about the Oscars incident, the Associated Press reported late Wednesday that Smith was asked to leave Sunday’s ceremony after hitting Rock but refused to do so, according to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.


Ticket holders entered the Wilbur Theatre to see comedian Chris Rock at the first of his two stand-up shows Wednesday night.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The academy’s board of governors met Wednesday to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations against the group’s standards of conduct. The academy said disciplinary action for Smith could include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions, the AP reported.

The academy said Smith has the opportunity to defend himself in a written response before the board meets again on April 18. The film academy earlier condemned Smith’s onstage assault of Rock, but it used stronger language Wednesday.

“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the academy said. “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.”

On Monday, Smith issued an apology to Rock, the academy, and to viewers, saying “I was out of line and I was wrong.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Globe Correspondent Nick Stoico contributed to this story.