A joke about Will Smith featured in Chris Rock: Selective Outrage has been edited out after Rock flubbed it at his live show.
During a run of jokes about the Oscar-winning actor and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, toward the end of Rock’s March 4 show — the streamer’s first-ever live, global streaming event — the comedian messed up his own joke as he recalled a conversation he allegedly had with the Smiths over his 2016 Oscars hosting gig.
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“Years ago, his wife said I should quit the Oscars; I shouldn’t host ’cause her man didn’t get nominated for Emancipation, the biggest piece of shit ever!” Rock told the Baltimore crowd, before quickly acknowledging his error. “No, not Emancipation, I fucked up the joke.”
The joke was meant to reference Smith’s 2015 sports drama Concussion, which was based on Jeanne Marie Laskas’ 2009 NFL and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) exposé “Game Brain,” published by GQ. For Netflix subscribers who have watched the replay version currently streaming, this portion of the live special has been edited out.
A source close to the production tells The Hollywood Reporter that Rock was aware of the edit, with the comedian and Netflix working together on the final streaming cut.
Following the misstep, Rock continued on and delivered the joke accurately. “She started this shit. She said that me, a fucking grown-ass man, should quit his job because, ‘My husband didn’t get nominated for Concussion,’” he said.
The instance Rock was mentioning took place the same year that Pinkett Smith was boycotting the ceremony amid the #OscarsSoWhite movement, which focused on the Film Academy’s history of racial exclusion within its nominee and winners lists.
Smith took to the 2022 Oscars stage last March and slapped Rock after he made an unscripted joke about Pinkett Smith’s bald hairstyle, a result of alopecia, an immune-related condition. The joke followed one Rock had made during his monologue while hosting the 2016 show, in which he said, “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”
Rock also made a separate joke at the 2016 ceremony about Pinkett Smith and Concussion. “[You] said, ‘It’s not fair that Will was this good [in Concussion] and didn’t get nominated!’” he said. “You’re right! It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West! OK?”
In THR’s review of Selective Outrage, chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg wrote, “Netflix attempted to build a live stunt out of Rock doing stand-up material that he’s been doing on the road for 10 months, and the only thing that would tell you the special was live was — after making viewers wait 61 minutes for the inevitable Will Smith material — Rock fucking up the joke. A joke he’s probably made around the country dozens of times.”
The hourlong comedy special, highly anticipated for featuring the comedian’s response to Smith slapping him, placed seventh in Netflix’s U.S. top 10 but did not land in the streamer’s top global rankings.