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Here’s how 'Weekend Update' responded to Will Smith and Chris Rock

The fan favorite "Saturday Night Live" sketch spent a majority of the segment discussing the altercation at last week's Oscars ceremony.
"Weekend Update" on "Saturday Night Live."
"Weekend Update" on "Saturday Night Live."Saturday Night Live / NBC
/ Source: TODAY

“Saturday Night Live” is not one to stray away from controversy, so it’s no surprise that last night’s episode of the sketch comedy show focused on the one incident that has been on everyone’s minds since last week: the altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars.

The episode, hosted by Jerrod Carmichael, featured numerous references to the moment when Smith slapped Rock across the face after he cracked a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. In particular, the “Weekend Update” segment was relentless on the topic, featuring over three minutes worth of jokes about the moment just at the top of the segment alone.

Colin Jost kicked off the Oscars-centric jokes for the evening by saying, “Intelligence officials are saying that Vladimir Putin is being misinformed by his advisors about how badly the Russian military is performing in Ukraine, which is kind of like Will Smith’s agent telling him, ‘You crushed it at the Oscars!’”

“Will Smith, for those of you who don’t know, walked on stage during the Academy Awards and slapped Chris Rock after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, which I think was a disgraceful act that sets a terrible precedent for having to defend your wife at award shows,” Jost, who is married to Scarlett Johansson, said.

Michael Che took the next round of jokes, referencing a line that Smith said during his acceptance speech,“'Love will make you do crazy things.' You know what else makes you do crazy things? Crazy."

Che continued, explaining that he understands where Smith was coming from for his actions, adding, “I mean, you can’t expect him to sit there and watch another man jump all over his wife…without signing an NDA.”

“Yesterday, Will Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. He wasn’t going to but then Jada gave him that look,” Jost said as the photo the screen cut to a shot of Pinkett Smith giving the side eye. “If Will Smith had been expelled, he would have joined a small group of people kicked out of the academy, including: Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski and Harvey Weinstein. Or as they’re also known, Bad Boys For Life.”

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Though Jada Pinkett Smith has been outspoken about experiencing hair loss and getting diagnosed with alopecia for years, Che added in the segment, “Also, can we stop pretending everybody knew Jada had alopecia? I mean, as much as we’ve heard about Jada and Will’s personal lives, you can’t expect us to retain everything.”

“It’s like Kanye saying, ‘Don’t act like y’all ain’t know I had psoriasis,’” Che joked. “Just selfishly, as a comedian, I’m tired of people putting their own insecurities on our joke intentions.”

Jost also made a joke about Smith remaining at the ceremony after he slapped Rock on stage because the 57-year-old comedian declined to file a report and told police that he did not want the “King Richard” star to be arrested or removed from the ceremony.

“I also really loved that the reason they let Will Smith stay in the audience was that they asked Chris Rock and he said it was okay,” Jost said. “So now we just ask the victim right after they get hit in the head? ‘Hey, you cool if the guy who just attacked you hangs around for a while? You don't want to make him mad again.’ I can’t believe the Academy has a worse concussion protocol than the NFL.”

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The “Tom and Jerry” star said he couldn’t blame the Academy for not knowing how to handle the situation, joking that “Nobody knew what to do.”

“Even people at the Oscars were googling ‘Did Will Smith just slap Chris Rock?’” he said, cutting to a photo of Andrew Garfield on his phone during the ceremony. “I think we should just acknowledge that that was one of the craziest things we will ever see in our lives.”

Che took a moment to mention Rock’s nonverbal learning disorder, which he revealed in a 2020 interview. The “Grown Ups” star has also been open about how he’s avoided confrontation for years after a violent childhood incident.

“Not to mention Chris Rock has been very public about his nonverbal learning disorder, which means it’s hard for him to understand nonverbal signals,” the comedian said. “Sort of like how when he saw an angry Will Smith charging towards him and instead of moving out in the way, he put both his hands behind his back, smiled, and said, ‘Uh oh!’”

As if that wasn’t enough teasing for the evening, later in the segment, Kenan Thompson appeared at the “Update” desk as O.J. Simpson to comment on the matter, despite saying he hates conflict. 

“In my humble opinion, Will Smith maybe overreacted by slapping Chris Rock,” Thompson said. “I mean, Will, I don’t wanna say that you’ve got rage issues, but if the glove fits.”

When Che implied that meant Thompson was on Rock’s side, the “SNL” star replied, “I mean, Chris ain’t exactly innocent neither — nobody likes to be made fun of. I mean, you might be too young to remember, but people used to make a lot of mean jokes about me,” but declined to share specifics about the kind of jokes when Che asked.

Anchor Michael Che with Kenan Thompson as OJ Simpson during “Weekend Update” on Saturday, April 2, 2022
Anchor Michael Che with Kenan Thompson as O.J. Simpson during “Weekend Update” on Saturday, April 2, 2022.Will Heath / NBC

“Sometimes, jokes can go too far, especially when it’s about a man’s family because like Will Smith said in his speech, ‘Love will make you do crazy things’… allegedly,” Thompson said. 

Thompson did offer one piece of advice to Smith, saying, “You know, whenever you feel anger bubbling up inside, instead of reacting, just do what I do: take a nice long drive. Or, maybe let a friend drive you around so you can lay down in the back and call the news stations.”