Marlon Wayans is deconstructing the infamous moment when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars for an off-the-cuff joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald appearance in his new HBO Max comedy special, God Loves Me. But the actress’ journey of living with alopecia is the one topic he is not using as a punchline.
“That’s a condition, and that’s something that I won’t say I’m making fun of,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published on March 2. As everyone knows by now, Rock comparing Pinkett Smith to G.I. Jane did not go over well with her or her husband. The “Red Table Talk” co-host has publicly addressed her hair loss as well as her decision to finally shave her head, though it seemed unlikely that Rock was aware of any of those conversations when he cracked the joke.
As a result, the international box office star found himself on stage slapping the comedian before he returned to his seat and yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f**king mouth!” The incident took place last March and has remained a hot topic even now, with only a week before this year’s Oscar Awards ceremony.
“I just felt that would weigh down the special. That needs its own 10 minutes. And I think that’s a separate piece, and that takes investigation,” Wayans continued. “It’s not what I knew, and I don’t want to be insensitive to anybody that’s going through that. I think that, that would have convoluted the message, so I left it out, and I just explored what was funny from a place that we can digest. I felt like some things are too hard to digest, so let me not spend that time dealing with that because it becomes something else. That’s a special unto itself.”
While the actress is the singular exception to Wayans’ wisecracks, there are no holds barred when it comes to the Oscar winner. But even then, he takes special care to find a way to talk about their incident with compassion. “I can’t worry about what everybody’s thinking, what everybody feels. I have to talk about it because nobody else is. I have to come from an honest place as a brother,” said the Sextuplets star, who has known both men for decades. “So I just felt, in this moment, all I could do is speak truth and hope everybody could see themselves.”