Almost one full year after the slap heard — and seen — round the world at last year’s Oscars, the incident between Chris Rock and Will Smith was obviously the elephant in the room at Sunday night’s ceremony. And of course, this year’s Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel went right for it.
Well, not right for it. It actually took the host most of his monologue to get a slap joke in. In fact, it seemed for a bit that he might pull his punches, when he only made a fairly tame joke about the chances of a fight happening, referring to the cast of “The Banshees of Inisherin.”
“Five Irish actors are nominated, which means, the odds of another fight on stage just went way up,” Kimmel joked.
But in the end, he did go for the slap directly, and he went for the jugular when he did. Of course, he did it with the promise of wanting the crowd to feel secure.
“We want you to have fun, we want you to feel safe, and most importantly, we want me to feel safe,” he joked. “So, we have strict policies in place. If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for Best Actor, and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech.”
Kimmel then revealed that the Academy put “a crisis team” in place for the evening — but given how Oscars staff reacted to the slap last year, he wasn’t overly confident about this team.
“If anything unpredictable or violent happens during the ceremony, just do what you did last year: nothing. Just sit there, and do absolutely nothing. Maybe even give the assailant a hug,” he mocked. “And if any of you get mad at a joke and decide you want to come up here and get jiggy with it, it’s not gonna be easy. There are a few of my friends you’re gonna have to get through first.”
Among those friends was Michael B. Jordan, Michelle Yeoh, Pedro Pascal, Andrew Garfield, Steven Spielberg, and of course, Kimmel’s own right-hand man Guillermo.
You can watch part of Kimmel’s monologue in the video above, and read the full list of Oscar winners here.
The 95th Oscars is broadcasting live on ABC from L.A.’s Dolby Theatre Sunday.