For Chris Rock, Saturday night felt like his very own “Independence Day.”
During his hysterical live Netflix special, “Selective Outrage,” the comedian finally let it rip in front of a surely huge at-home audience about the infamous 2022 Oscars at which Will Smith slapped him onstage.
A brilliant Rock pummeled Smith harder than the movie star did to that alien in his hit 1996 action movie — and to, well, Rock himself at the Academy Awards.
“Everybody called that man a b—h,” Rock, 58 years old and in top form, said about the media’s reaction to Smith’s well-reported marital problems in the lead-up to the Oscars. “And who’d he hit? Me! A [N-word] he knows he could beat. That is some b—h-ass s–t.”
He joked of the physical pain: “It still hurts! I got ‘Summertime’ ringin’ in my ear!”
However — and this was a through-line of Rock’s material all night — he refuses to give in to our 2023 culture of perpetual victimhood.
“Right now we live in a world where the emergency room is filled with motherf—ers with paper cuts,” he said.
“You will never see me on Oprah or Gayle crying. You will never see it. Never gonna happen. ‘I couldn’t believe it! And I loved ‘Men in Black’!’,” Rock mockingly whimpered. “No! F–k that s–t. I took that hit like Pacquiao!”
While Rock devoted his final ten minutes to the Smith scandal, the first hour brilliantly tore into touchy topics such as performative wokeness and Meghan Markle.
The comic nimbly eviscerated Prince Harry’s wife’s never-ending outrage over the British royals’ alleged racist tendencies.
“It’s the royal family!,” he said. “You didn’t Google these motherf—-ers? What the f–k is she talking about ‘She didn’t know’?!”
He went on: “That’s like marrying into the Budweiser family and going, ‘They drink a lot.’”
And as for allegations about a particular member of the royal family inquiring about what Markle’s first baby, Archie, would look like: “That’s not racist,” Rock insisted. “Because even black people wanna know how brown the baby is gonna be!”
Some of Rock’s most vicious — and ingenious — material targeted what he dubbed “selective outrage,” or society’s tendency to pick and choose whom to cancel for committing roughly the same acts.
“One person does something, they get canceled. Another person does the exact same thing, nothing,” he said. He’s enraged by “the kind of people who play Michael Jackson songs but won’t play R. Kelly. Same crime — one of ‘em’s just got better songs.”
Rock’s also fed up with corporate brands taking empty stances on major issues to score wokeness points. He said that he saw a sign at the athleisure clothing store Lululemon decrying racism and hatred.
“Who gives a f–k?,” he said. “You’re just selling yoga pants!”
But it was the Smith section everyone was waiting for, and you could feel Rock’s already-nuclear energy double as he insisted that the “King Richard” star’s anger was totally unrelated to anything the comic ever did.
“Everybody knows I had nothing to do with that s–t,” he said, suggesting Will’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s well-known affair with her son Jaden’s rapper friend August Alsina in 2015 was the root of Smith’s angst toward him.
“For people that don’t know — everybody knows! — his wife was f–king her son’s friend, OK?,” he said. “Now, I normally would not talk about this s–t, but for some reason these [N-word] put that s–t on the internet! I had no idea why two talented people would do something that f–king low-down!”
The fantastic special was a big win for the uber-talented Rock, airing nearly one year after the slap and just over a week before the 2023 Oscars telecast. In this Hollywood bout, he is the unquestionable victor.
And it was also a sad reminder that next week’s award show will give us three hours of yawns and tedium, when this truth-telling comedian brought 60 thrilling minutes of fearlessness and fire.