It seems that almost every celebrity in Hollywood has something to say about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at this year’s Academy Awards. Some defended the star, others criticized him for hitting the famous comedian. Interestingly, a number of fellow Rock comedians, such as Steve Harvey and Tiffany Haddish, shared some particularly strong thoughts about the situation. Now the daughter of stand-up comedy legend Richard Pryor has intervened.
Rain Pryor knows more than anyone else when it comes to getting comics to voice their opinions on stage. Her father was considered a trailblazer in his time for using harsh humor and harsh social commentary in his actions. So what does she think of Rock getting slapped in the face after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith at the Oscars? Well, the former comedian told the PEOPLE Every Day podcast that she had met both Rock and Will Smith before, calling them “really good guys.” However, she said she felt sorry for Rock before explaining what she was thinking:
I feel devastated because of Chris, and for me it wasn’t so much a comedy as an interpersonal relationship that we’ll never know about because we don’t live with them. But it became the center of comedy because Chris Rock is who he is, and that’s what happened to him. Chris will keep telling his jokes because he’s funny and smart. Comedy is not dead.
The graduate of the head of state caused the wrath of Will Smith when he presented the award for the best documentary. During his opening, the comedian joked that he was looking forward to meeting Jada Pinkett-Smith in the TV series “Soldiers”. Continuation of Jane with reference to her shaved head (style choice due to her alopecia). Subsequently, Steve Harvey called the slap a “punk” move on Smith’s part and said he “lost a lot of respect for him.” Fellow comedian Jim Carrey mentioned that he was “sick” of the applause Smith received after receiving his Oscar and said he would sue him if he got slapped. Ricky Gervais also criticized the situation, saying that there was nothing “unpleasant” or unflattering in the joke. On the other hand, Tiffany Haddish expressed her support, saying it “meant so much” to her to see “a black man stand up for his wife.”
After the incident occurred, many in the comedy world expressed concern about the possible consequences of the situation. Some argue that this could set a precedent for others when they go on stage and attack comics in the middle of a performance. This situation actually happened when Dave Chappelle was attacked on the Hollywood Bowl stage, where Chris Rock made a joke during the trials. This seems to have added fuel to the argument that comedians are constantly being “silenced” as part of the cancellation culture. In the same interview , Rain Pryor also shared her thoughts on this:
You know, now we live in this strange time when everything is extreme. I think a lot of comedians feel that they are faced with “silence”. So for me [the furore around the slap] this is normal from the point of view of how the world works, and how everything is becoming politicized at the moment.
Many may agree that comics should tread carefully when discussing certain topics. However, others claim that their job is to adapt to the times and produce material that doesn’t look fueled by malice. This is a difficult discussion that is likely to persist for the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, Rain Pryor shares some reasonable thoughts and notes one key point: the comedy will not end with a slap in the face of Will Smith at the Oscars. The art form will continue as performers try to match the legacy of her famous father and others who came before them.