Dave Chappelle is not picking sides when it comes to weighing in on the infamous moment Will Smith slapped Chris Rock while on stage at the 2022 Oscars. The comedian has, however, given fans some insight on his takeaway from the unforgettable moment.
The respected stand-up comic is currently on a co-headlining tour in Europe with Rock. Their first show was Friday (Sept. 2) in Liverpool. While performing his set, Chappelle referenced the slap seen around the world. According to The Telegraph, the “Chappelle Show” co-creator said the controversial moment was in some ways the world’s first time meeting the real Smith.
In what was easily the most unexpected moment of the awards ceremony, Smith walked on stage and struck the “Everybody Hates Chris” narrator for making an off-the-cuff joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s, bald appearance. The actress has openly shared her journey living with alopecia. Moments later, the “Summertime” rapper was awarded an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in the movie King Richard.
“Will did the impression of a perfect person for 30 years, and he ripped his mask off and showed us he was as ugly as the rest of us,” said Chappelle. He continued, “A lot of people forget who Will Smith is. Then 10 minutes before he was about to get the biggest award, he acted like he was back in Philadelphia.”
In his memoir, “Will,” the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star discusses how he constructed the perfect public persona. “That buoyant, happy, joyful image was painted over a core of a real lack of self-esteem and self-respect,” he wrote.
In the wake of the controversial moment, Smith was banned from Academy events, including the Oscars, for a decade. He has also faced an onslaught of scrutiny from colleagues and disappointed fans. “Whatever the consequences are, I hope he doesn’t put his mask back on again, and lets his real face breathe,” said Chappelle. He added, “I see myself in both men.”
Rock also made mention of the Oscars incident during his set, though his remarks were less reflective. “He hit me over a bulls**t joke, the nicest joke I ever told,” he reportedly said.
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