Chris Rock is breaking his silence about the Oscars incident when Will Smith struck him onstage after the presenter made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
The 57-year-old comedian had a show at The Wilbur in Boston Wednesday night, where he addressed the ordeal, telling the audience, “I’m still processing what happened.”
A very rowdy crowd screamed Rock’s name before his first appearance since the 94th Academy Awards, according to an audience member. The comedian then took the stage dressed in all white and received a standing ovation.
“What’s up, Boston?” he asked the crowd, before adding: “How was your weekend?!”
After Rock said that he was still “processing” what happened at this year’s Oscars, he told fans in the audience that he would probably talk about what happened at some point in a serious manner, according to the audience member, but that he had written a whole show full of jokes for Wednesday evening.
Prior to the show, the line of hundreds waiting to see Rock wrapped around the block, and the last few ticket holders didn’t get into The Wilbur until after 8 p.m. (the show was scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.).
Though there were some in the crowd yelling “Will Smith” during the show, the audience member says Rock did not acknowledge the shouts and never mentioned the Best Actor Oscar winner by name once throughout his set.
“Except for a couple weird things, life is pretty good right now,” Rock said later in his standup routine.
Following Sunday night’s altercation, ticket sales for Rock’s upcoming tour dates saw a spike in popularity, according to secondary ticket seller TickPick.
Rock sported a navy baseball cap and black winter jacket as he arrived at The Wilbur. About 20 onlookers called out to the performer, but he did not acknowledge them.
Inside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, Rock presented an award, taking time to crack a few jokes, including one about Pinkett Smith’s appearance. He made a gag about her hair matching Demi Moore’s shaved head in the movie G.I. Jane, which Pinkett Smith recently opened up about, revealing it was a result of having alopecia.
Pinkett Smith, 50, was visibly unamused by the joke, rolling her eyes from her seat.
Seconds later, Smith, 53, walked onstage and approached Rock, smacking him in front of the audience and millions watching the telecast at home. Back at his table, Smith shouted to a stunned Rock: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—–g mouth.” Smith remained seated with his wife at his table for the rest of the night. Rock declined to press charges.
When Smith won Best Actor later in the ceremony, he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees but did not mention Rock. In his tearful speech, he spoke about acting out of love and protection, saying, “Love makes you do crazy things.”
On Monday, Smith publicly apologised to Rock in a statement shared on Instagram, saying, “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.”
He also said, “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.”
“… I would also like to apologise to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologise to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family,” continued Smith. “I deeply regret that my behaviour has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.I am a work in progress.”
Also on Monday, the Academy said in a statement, “The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
On Wednesday, the Academy said that Smith was actually asked to leave after the incident but “refused.”
“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” read a statement issued to PEOPLE. “While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”