Chris Rock was performing at the Arizona Financial Theatre in Phoenix this weekend, where the 57-year-old comic told the crowd that he declined an invitation to host the Academy Awards next year. If he accepted the alleged request, then it would have been the third time that Rock emceed the event. But the funnyman joked why it would kill him to return so soon.
Craig Erwich, president of entertainment at ABC, spoke with Deadline in May and said he was open to the idea. However, Rock addressed the rumor on Sunday. Per AZCentral, he told the audience that going back to the Oscars would be akin to asking Nicole Brown Simpson “to go back to the restaurant” where she left her eyeglasses prior to being murdered in 1994.
Rock did admit that Smith’s hit stung him, though. “He’s bigger than me,” he told the crowd. “The state of Nevada would not sanction a fight between me and Will Smith.”
This is not the first time Rock has referenced O.J. Simpson in his routine, though. The entertainer notably did so in his bit “O.J…. I Understand” from his 1996 comedy special, Bring The Pain. But some people think Rock went too far with his jokes this time.
“I’m starting to think that Will Smith didn’t slap him hard enough,” wrote one Twitterer. “What is with this dude and using a Woman’s Misfortune as a Punch line? Dude just say, ‘No I’m not coming back. No need to reference Nicole Brown Simpson.”
Another person called Rock an “asshat” for the comment, adding that Will Smith probably should have used more “oomph” when he slapped Rock at this year’s Oscars ceremony. “The freaking ‘comparison’ to Nicole Brown Simpson is disgusting and why I can’t stand Chris Rock,” the second user added.
Dr. Oni Blackstock, executive director of anti-racist advocacy group Health Justice, also told Newsweek the following: “Chris Rock is now trivializing intimate partner violence and gender-based violence. He was hit. She was murdered. No comparison.”
Interestingly enough, Simpson himself weighed in on the Will Smith-Chris Rock dustup back in March with an ironic take of his own. “Hey, look, it was unfortunate. I think Will was wrong,” the retired 5x NFL Pro Bowler said in a video he uploaded to Twitter. “He was wrong but I understand the sentiment.”
Take a look at some of the tweets below, and let us know if you think Rock crossed the line this time.