Late-night hosts do their solemn duty, and make jokes about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock

When Will Smith made Oscars history and slapped Chris Rock over a joke Rock made at the expense of Jada Pinkett Smith, the currently in-between-gigs Conan O’Brien tweeted, “Anyone have a late-night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?”

Luckily, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel held up his end of the bargain and did what a chat show host needs to do in times of international tumult: he cracked wise about Smith’s assault of Rock and Smith’s subsequent lengthy acceptance speech. “This was the Hollywood equivalent of your drunk uncle starting a fight, ruining the wedding, and then standing up and giving a long toast to the bride and groom,” he pronounced during his monologue on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” 

Referring to the general post-Oscars vibe as “the aftermath,” he predicted that “we will never stop talking about this” and compared it to the moment when Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield’s ear. “Even Kanye,” Kimmel joked, “said ‘you went on stage and did what at an awards show?’”

Doing his best to approximate Kevin Costner-in-“JFK,” Kimmel then broke down the moment piece-by-piece. He pointed out that, at first, the Oscar-winning actor for “King Richard” was seen laughing at Rock’s not-so-hot crack about Pinkett Smith readying for “G.I. Jane 2.” (We still do not know if Rock was just making an admissible zing about a superstar’s red carpet look—in this case, a shaven head—or if he was mocking her for suffering from alopecia, which, I think all can agree, is not a cool thing to do.)

Kimmel surmised that it wasn’t until Smith saw his wife’s less-than-amused reaction that he realized he “better do something.” Kimmel also gave a shout-out to his show’s writers who had to throw out “about a page-and-a-half of cleavage jokes” now made irrelevant by the unscripted outburst. (There were, indeed, some striking outfits at the ceremony.) He also saluted Rock for handling it all pretty well and getting back to the business of doling out the Best Documentary award. (Congrats, Questlove, “Summer of Soul” rules!) Kimmel also joked that, despite the presence of Spider-Man, Aquaman, and Catwoman at the event, not one of these so-called superheroes did anything to intervene. 

After reminding the audience that Rock took a crack at Jada Pinkett Smith once before (when she boycotted the show the year of #OscarsSoWhite, despite neither she nor Will Smith being nominated for anything), Kimmel joked about Diddy saying he’d have Smith and Rock working out their differences later “like family.” Considering the hip-hop mogul then introduced a tribute to “The Godfather,” Kimmer noted that was “not the family you want to settle it like!” 

Kimmel concluded that Smith’s speech for winning Best Actor went so long because no one would play him off the stage, for fear of him beating the crap out of them. After commenting that Smith’s Instagram apology was a good first step, he concluded that this won’t be over until Chris Rock gets to host a Comedy Central roast of Will Smith.

Jimmy Fallon also had some commentary, suggesting that America may be divided, but we can all come together and “say ‘holy crap’ at the same time.”

He pivoted, then, to celebrating his bandleader Questlove’s big win. (Have you seen “Summer of Soul”? Did we mention it rules?) 


Questlove then hit the couch for a well-deserved victory lap.

Stephen Colbert took a smack at the controversy, too. (“It’s the worst thing Will Smith has ever done—wait, I forgot about ‘Wild, Wild West!’” He also reminded his audience of the time Tony Curtis punched Bob Hope in the gonads. Note: this was just a joke. Please, Jamie Lee Curtis, do not slap Stephen Colbert.) 

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