At comedy show, Chris Rock tells audience he’s ‘still processing’ Oscar slap

He’s greeted with thunderous applause but opens by saying he wouldn’t be discussing the confrontation with Will Smith.

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Ticket holders wait Wednesday to enter the Wilbur Theatre in Boston for a performance by Chris Rock.

Mary Schwalm/AP

BOSTON — Comedian Chris Rock, performed in public Wednesday for the first time since he was slapped during the Academy Awards, told the audience, “I’m still kind of processing what happened.”

The nighttime performance in Boston comes just three days after Rock told a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith at the Oscars and her husband, Will Smith, responded by slapping Rock on stage.

Rock was greeted by thunderous applause, according to audio posted by the Hollywood trade outlet Variety. He also tamped down any audience expectations that he would talk at length about the slap, telling them: “If you came to hear that, I’m not ... I had like a whole show I wrote before this weekend.”

“We love you,” someone shouted at one point, eliciting cheers from the audience, according to the audio.

“At some point I’ll talk about” the Oscars confrontation, he said. “And it will be serious and funny.”

At Sunday’s Oscars, Rock razzed Jada Pinkett Smith about her buzzed haircut. Pinkett Smith has spoken publicly about her diagnosis of alopecia, which can cause baldness.

“Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it,” Rock said while presenting an award, comparing Pinkett Smith to Demi Moore’s “G.I. Jane” character, who had a buzz cut in the 1997 film.

Smith promptly stood up from his seat at the front of the venue and took to the stage, slapping Rock across the face before sitting back down and yelling at Rock to keep his wife’s name out of his mouth.

Within an hour, Smith won best actor, receiving a standing ovation. During his five-minute acceptance speech, Smith talked about defending his family and apologized to the academy. A day later, Smith issued an apology to the comedian, to the academy and to viewers at home, saying he was “out of line” and that his actions are “not indicative of the man I want to be.”

Ticket prices for Rock’s shows skyrocketed after the slap. In Boston, attendees were prohibited from bringing phones or other recording devices to their seats.

George Guay, a 24-year-old fan from Boston who grew up on Rock’s sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris,” said he bought a ticket after the Academy Awards.

“He’s the most popular celebrity so I want to be here,” Guay said, adding that he hopes Rock opens up with a response to the situation. “I just want a good show.”

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences condemned Smith striking Rock. Its board of governors met Wednesday to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations of the group’s standards of conduct. The academy said it had asked Smith to leave Sunday’s Oscar ceremony after hitting Rock, but he refused to do so.

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