Of course, ‘SNL’ addressed the Slap. Here’s how the show made fun of the Oscars
In times of cultural upheaval, we turn to someone trustworthy – well, half trustworthy; well, familiar – voices for context and relief and asking ourselves, “What will ‘Saturday Night Live’ do?”
Incisive or clumsy, to the point or almost irrelevant, and almost certain to pursue any idea too long, it has become for many a kind of ritual way station to turn the awful nonsense of the real world into nonsense. manageable comedy. The Saturday following Sunday, when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock for Rock’s joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, he seemed as sure a bet could be placed on Earth as some kind of re-creation- cum-calculation would be coming from the kids at Studio 8H at 30 Rock.
So it was somewhat surprising not to see the slap that launched a thousand thoughts tackled head-on in Saturday’s cold open; instead, there was a “Fox & Friends” track which included a throwaway reference. “Did you see the famous slap? Donald Trump was asked about James Austin Johnson, as he descended into a torrent of Trumpian word salad, centered on Will Smith slapping Kevin James in the movie ‘Hitch’.
Not saying anything in particular about The Thing initially seemed to be the strategy. Comedian Jerrod Carmichael was the week’s host; he himself had made headlines – happily so – earlier in the week when his excellent HBO special, “Rothaniel”, became the platform for his public coming out as gay. While “Rothaniel” was meant to face things head-on, in his opening monologue he talked about the Oscar dust as he talked about it.
“I’m not going to talk about it,” he began. “I want to be clear up top. I’ve said enough about it. Couldn’t stop talking about it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I do not wanna talk about it. And you can’t make me talk about that. But I have a question: Do you want to talk about it? Like, aren’t you sick of talking about it?
“Can you believe it’s been six days?” “Doesn’t it feel like it happened years ago? Doesn’t it feel like it happened when we were all in high school? It’s like If it happened between Jamiroquai and 9/11 A long, long time ago It happened Sunday, Sunday, it’s Saturday, mate.
“Monday was exciting. I’m not going to lie. If it was Monday, you couldn’t shut me up about it. Tuesday I still talk about it. A little less exciting because it stopped to be about this, and it started to be about a lot of proxy arguments – hair and black and white men on Twitter; on Wednesday I wanted to kill myself; I don’t really remember Thursday; but on Friday I made a vow to myself, and I promised myself that I would never talk about it again. Then Lorne came into my dressing room. He said to me, ‘I think you have to talk about it. nation needs healing.’ … Heal the nation, I’ve been gay for about 48 hours I have so many gay things I need to do before I heal the nation.”
Eventually, things settled down. In the evening’s Oscar-designed skit, Chris Redd as Will Smith alternated sharply between friendly banter with Carmichael as the star-studded seat filler and his verbal and (off-camera) physical attacks on Rock. It didn’t make any noticeable points, but it was more of a twist on the evergreen sketch of the split personality — something you might have seen in Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows” or an old movie. by Danny Kaye.
What wasn’t surprising was seeing Michael Che and Colin Jost going straight for as many jabs as they decently could squeeze in, early in the “Weekend Update” segment. Nor was it unexpected that most of their jokes were directed at Smith; comics defend comics.
Jost: “Intelligence officials say Vladimir Putin is misinformed about the poor performance of the Russian military in Ukraine; it’s kind of like Will Smith’s agent saying, “You crushed him at the Oscars.”
Che: “During his acceptance speech, Will Smith said, ‘Love will make you do crazy things. You know what else makes you do crazy things? Crazy. But I understand where Will is coming from. I mean, you can’t expect him to sit there and watch another man jump on his wife – without signing an NDA.
There were several others like it, including a remark by Che that “just selfishly, as a comedian, I’m tired of people putting their own insecurities on our prank intentions – I mean, I can’t joke about how cold it is outside without someone yelling back, “Stop making fun of my little penis.”
Jost concluded the play-off by saying, “I think we should just recognize that it was one of the craziest things we’ll ever see in our lives. It really is like the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, but if Janet’s nipple slapped Timberlake.
Then Kenan Thompson came on, as OJ Simpson, to comment on the issue that had “divided Hollywood” – but all the jokes were actually about Simpson. Asked by Che which side he was on, he replied: “You know me, I hate conflict. … I mean, Will, I don’t mean you have rage issues, but if the glove fits you. … Whenever you feel the anger rising inside, instead of reacting, just do what I do, take a long drive or maybe let a friend drive you. When asked if he sided with Rock, he replied that the comic may have gone too far in attacking Smith’s family. “As Will Smith said in his speech, love will make you do crazy things. Allegedly.”
“Hey, can I make a big confession that took a long time to come?” Simpson finally said of Thompson. “I didn’t watch them at the Oscars.”
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.