Chris Rock’s Oscar monologue: ★★★1⁄2

They should give Chris Rock a fresh 10 minutes at the top of every hour of the Oscar telecast.

Looking leading-man sharp in a white dinner jacket and black slacks, Rock hit the ground running in his opening monologue, devoting about nearly all of his 10–minute set to the controversy over the lack of diversity among the acting category nominees.

Calling the Oscars “the White People’s Choice Awards,” Rock talked about the calls for him to boycott the Oscars, saying, “How come it’s only unemployed people that tell you to quit? The last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart.”

Rock expressed amusement at the volume of the fury this year, saying, “Why this Oscars? It’s the 88th Academy Awards. Which means this whole “no black nominees” thing has happened at least 71 other times.”

Most of what Rock said was a brilliant encapsulation of what a lot of people have probably been thinking. About Jada Pinkett Smith’s boycott, Rock said:

“Jada says she’s not coming. ‘Ain’t you on a TV show?’ Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!”

ZING.

Acknowledging it’s legit to say it’s not fair Will Smith wasn’t nominated for “Concussion,” Rock said, “It’s also not fair Will was paid $20 for ‘Wild Wild West.’ ”

The audience at the Dolby Theater seemed to be navigating the line between genuine laughter and being careful not to be caught on camera chortling over an edgy joke about race, especially when Rock delivered a sharp one-liner such as saying the “In Memoriam” segment this year will be “black people shot by cops on their way to the movies.”

Also spot-on: Rock’s assessment of Hollywood as racist, but on a relatively less offensive level, i.e., “sorority racist.”

He also poked fun at our tendency to make everything an issue these days, as with the recent movement to urge red carpet reporters to ask female nominees something more substantial than, “Who are you wearing?”

We don’t ask men what they’re wearing because “the men are wearing the same outfit,” observed Rock. “If George Clooney showed up in a lime green tux with a swan coming out of his ass, they’d ask, ‘What are you wearing, George?’ ”

A minute later, Charlize Theron came out with Emily Blunt to present the best original screenplay award. She was wearing a tomato-red dress with a neckline plunging two-thirds of the way down her torso. A necklace shimmered between her assets. She looked stunning. After that, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling presented.

I think they were wearing suits or something.