He rocked it. Chris Rock brought plenty of laughs — and jabs — during his opener at the 88th Academy Awards at L.A.’s Dolby Theatre on Sunday, February 28. The Oscar host, 51, didn’t waste any time, as he immediately touched on the controversy that has surrounded the show since nominations day: the lack of diversity among the nominees.
“I’m here at the Oscars, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards. If they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even be here right now. Y’all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris,” Rock, 51, joked. “People are like, “Chris, you should boycott. Chris, you should quit. You should quit!’ How come it’s only unemployed people that tell you to quit something?”
“I thought about quitting, but I figured they were going to have the Oscars anyway,” he continued. “And the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart.”
As previously reported, #OscarsSoWhite began to trend on Twitter after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations on January 14. For the past two years, only white actors have been recognized for their work in the major categories. In response to this year’s shutout, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith announced that they wouldn’t attend the ceremony. Other stars, such as Spike Lee, Idris Elba, Mark Ruffalo, George Clooney, Lupita Nyong’o, Matt Damon, Sylvester Stallone and Halle Berry weighed in on the scandal.
Rock took notice, and specifically called out — and poked fun at — Pinkett Smith. “Jada got mad and said she’s not coming. Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!” he said, which met with laughter and applause. “But I understand. I’m not hating. I understand you’re mad. Jada’s mad her man, Will, was not nominated for Concussion. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West.”
Check out more of Rock’s #OscarsSoWhite comments and best jokes below:
“It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no black nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times.”
“I’m sure there were years in the ’50s and ’60s where black people didn’t get nominated. But we had better things to protest. We were too busy getting raped and lynched to care who was up for best cinematographer. When your grandma is swinging from a tree, It’s kind of hard to worked up about best foreign film.”
“Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right. But Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.'”
“This year, in the memorium package, it’s just going to be black people that were shot on their way to the movies.”
“If you want black people every year at the Oscars, just have black categories, like best black friend. That’s right. ‘And the winner for the 18th year in a row is Wanda Sykes. This is Wanda’s 18th black Oscar.’”
“Rocky takes place in a world where white athletes are as good as black athletes. Rocky’s a science-fiction movie. There are things that happened in Star Wars that are more believable than things that happened in Rocky.”
“You’re not allowed to ask women what they’re wearing anymore. It’s a whole thing. You know, ask her more. You have to ask her more … Hey, everything’s not sexism, everything’s not racism … If George Clooney showed up with a lime green tux on and a swan coming out his ass, somebody would go, ‘What you wearing, George?’”
Watch Rock’s monologue in the video above!
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