Trevor Noah opened the 64th Annual Grammy Awards by alluding to Will Smith’s controversial slap of Chris Rock during last Sunday’s Oscars. The Grammys took place just one week after the Academy Awards, where Smith took to the stage and slapped Rock after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head while presenting the documentary feature category.
“Don’t even think of this as an award show,” Noah said about the ceremony. “It’s a concert where we are giving out awards, we will be listening to music, dancing, sing, keeping people’s names out of our mouths and we are going to give people awards all throughout the night. So let’s get straight into it.”
Questlove also addressed Will Smith’s slap while presenting the Grammy for song of the year, saying, “All right, I am going to present this award and I trust that you people will stay 500 feet away from me. As they say it is far better to give than to receive. Well, I’m not so sure about that because last Sunday it felt pretty good to receive.” Questlove won the Oscar for documentary feature right after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock.
Both Smith and Rock discussed the incident themselves in the days after the Oscar ceremony. Smith apologized to Rock on March 28. The actor published a statement on social media, writing, “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. … I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.”
Rock waited until his March 30 stand-up comedy show in Boston to address the slap publicly, although the comedian mostly stayed away from talking about the incident. Rock told the audience, “I don’t have a bunch of shit about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend. I’m still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point I’ll talk about that shit. And it will be serious and funny.”
Mixed reports have since surfaced about how the Academy and Oscars producers should’ve handled the incident during the ceremony. The Academy claimed it asked Smith to leave, but the actor refused. However, sources told Variety that Smith was never formally asked to exit the event. Oscars producer Will Packer told “Good Morning America” that he asked the Academy not to “physically remove” Smith from the premises because it was not what Rock wanted. Although the LAPD was reportedly ready to arrest Smith, Rock declined to press charges or file a report.
Smith announced April 1 that he was resigning from the Academy. He still faces “suspension, expulsion or other sanctions” from the Academy, which condemned his violent actions following the Oscars. The next Academy board meeting is scheduled for April 18.