Comedian Chris Rock has broken his silence after he was slapped live on stage at the 2022 Oscars by Will Smith.
Rock was performing at a sold-out standup comedy show in Boston and finally addressed the elephant in the room.
A rapturous response from the crowd nearly drowned him out as he began his routine, Variety reported.
"Whoa, okay!" he said as a standing ovation continued.
After pleading with his fans to let him begin, Rock spoke up.
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"How was your weekend?" he began, to peals of laughter.
"I don't have a bunch of shit about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend. I'm still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point I'll talk about that shit. And it will be serious and funny," Rock said.
An audience member shouted out an expletive directed to Will Smith before Rock said he was just "going to tell some jokes," adding: "It's nice to just be out".
Rock's response comes as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said that Will Smith was asked to leave Sunday's Oscars after hitting Chris Rock but refused.
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Many have questioned why Smith was allowed to remain seated front row at the Academy Awards after the incident. Now the academy has suggested that it attempted to remove the actor from the audience.
"Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated," the academy said. "While we would like to clarify that Mr Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognise we could have handled the situation differently."
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 Smith has the opportunity to defend himself in a written response before the board meets again on April 18. The academy said disciplinary action for Smith could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.
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The film academy earlier condemned Smith's onstage assault of Rock. But it used stronger language today.
"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.
Smith wrote: "Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behaviour at last night's Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada's medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally."
He continued by calling his actions toward Rock "wrong" and admitting he was out of line.
"I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."
Meanwhile, Chris Rock apparently apologised to Wanda Sykes after being smacked by Will Smith at the Oscars.
The 58-year-old star was hosting the annual awards ceremony alongside fellow comedienne Amy Schumer, 40, and actress Regina Hall on Sunday when Will smacked comedian Chris across the face for making a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's shaven head and revealed that Chris apologised to her at an after-party for taking the limelight away from "her night."
Wanda said: "As soon as I walked up, the first thing Chris said to me was, ‘I am so sorry. It was supposed to be your night. You and Amy and Regina were doing such a good job. I'm so sorry this is going to be about this. That's who Chris is."
The Upshaws actress - who rose to prominence as a writer on The Chris Rock Show back in the late 1990s - went on to explain that she "felt so awful" for her friend Chris and claimed that it was "gross” to see Will go up to collect the Best Actor award for his role in King Richard less than an hour after the incident.
Speaking on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she said: "I just felt so awful for my friend Chris. It was sickening. I physically felt ill and I'm still a little traumatized by it. For [the Academy] to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award. I was like, ‘How gross is this?' This is just the wrong message. You assault somebody, you get escorted out the building and that's it. But for them to let him continue, I thought it was gross. Plus, I wanted to be able to run out after he won and say, ‘Unfortunately Will couldn't be here tonight!'"
The Men In Black star is currently under investigation by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his actions - has since issued a public apology to Chris, in which he labelled his behaviour as "unacceptable and inexcusable."
This article was first published by the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission. Additional reporting by Bang! Showbiz