A year after Will Smith’s infamous slap and in the aftermath of Chris Rock’s Netflix special Selective Outrage, the Academy Awards are back at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre for its 95th annual ceremony tonight (March 12). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tapped late-night fixture Jimmy Kimmel to emcee the proceedings, marking his third time hosting the show after taking the reins in 2017 and 2018.

In the lead-up to the event, the elephant in the room was how the slap heard around the world would be addressed, and Kimmel made sure to acknowledge what was on many people’s minds right off the bat in his opening monologue. As most know, Will slapped Rock following a joke he made about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald appearance at the 2022 Oscars. Jada suffers from the hair loss disease alopecia.

“Five Irish actors are nominated tonight, which means the odds of a fight onstage just went way up,” the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” star said to the crowd. He went on to poke fun at last year’s events in his speech. “We want you to have fun. We want you to feel safe. And most importantly, we want me to feel safe,” he joked. “So we have strict policies in place. If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for Best Actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech.” He referenced the alleged crisis team that the Academy put together in case of emergency and conceded, “If anything unpredictable or violent happens during the ceremony, just do what you did last year: Nothing.”

Later, when introducing Best Documentary Feature, Kimmel alluded to the fact that it was during Rock’s presentation of the same award in 2022 that Will slapped him. “The next category is documentary feature, which as you may recall, is where things went off the rails last year,” he noted. “Hopefully, tonight it goes off without a hitch. Or at least without a Hitch.”

Halfway through the show, Kimmel checked in with the audience by once again referring to last year’s incident. “This point in the show kind of makes you miss the slapping, right?” he said.

Kirshner spoke to “Good Morning America” on Friday (March 10) about the measures being taken in case something goes off the rails during the three-hour live telecast. “We are much more prepared as an organization to make quick decisions if something happens onstage,” he said. “It’s a live television show, right? You never know what’s going to happen. So we are much more prepared to act in a manner that’s compassionate, and swift, [and] that keeps the show going.”

Kimmel has been joking about what could possibly go wrong as the Oscars drew nearer. Last Wednesday (March 8), he spoke to USA Today about how he was getting ready for the big job.

“I have been studying the martial arts since they asked me to host the show,” he cracked. “The truth of the matter is I am not ready for anything. I’m ready for some things, but anything that involves violence or me having to run, I’m very not ready. They had some kind of crisis management meeting where I guess they dream up scenarios that we might face, but no one has filled me in on any of that. So if there is a crisis, I’ll be the only one left in the dark.”

“Not only am I not a member of the team, my welfare doesn’t seem to be of particular concern,” he added. “I don’t know what they’re worried about, but hopefully I won’t get slapped.”