Awards Host Richard Ayoade Makes Slap Joke To Loud Laughs Just A Few Weeks After Will Smith’s Oscars Snafu

Will Smith, Richard Ayoade and Chris Rock
(Image credit: Warner Bros./Dave TV/Lionsgate)

It’s been weeks since viewers saw Will Smith slap Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars, and it remains a widely discussed topic. In the aftermath, various stars have shared their thoughts on the situation, with some condemning Smith’s actions and others coming to his defense. Certain people, however, have not taken any side but have merely poked fun at the incident. This is true of Richard Ayoade, who offered up a joke about the snafu while hosting an awards show, and he earned some loud laughs as a result. 

Richard Ayoade is well known for his incredibly dry wit, and it was definitely on display during his third stint as the host of the British Academy Television Awards. During his opening monologue, the 44-year-old comedian took some hilarious jabs at the entertainment industry and employed a bit of self-deprecating humor as well. And while he didn’t explicitly mention Will Smith or Chris Rock, the audience clearly understood what Ayoade was referring to when joked about the history of the ceremony: 

In 1955, there were only six categories. There was barely enough time to get up from your seat and slap someone before the whole ceremony would be over.

The actor and comedian followed the statement and applause by telling the audience not to “worry [they’re] overly filmed heads” because he was not planning to use their “faces as punchlines or punching bags.” With that statement, the entertainer seemed to kill two birds with one stone, as he apparently confirmed that he would neither make personal jokes as Chris Rock did or would get physical as Will Smith had. You can check out his monologue in its entirety down below:

For those who are somehow not in the know at this point, the King Richard star slapped the Top Five director after the comic made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The Oscar winner later formally apologized, before resigning from the Academy. The organization would eventually ban him for 10 years as punishment. Among the stars who expressed displeasure with the incident was Steve Harvey, who said that he “lost a lot of respect for” the star due to his actions. However, the actor’s former Fresh Prince co-star, Janet Hubert, defended him while also saying that both his actions and those of the comic were “incorrect.”

Many people like Wanda Sykes and Terry Crews have also commended Chris Rock for maintaining his composure in the moment. Rock opted not to press charges and has been mostly quiet on the situation since it occurred. Though he has referred to it offhandedly during his stand-up sets and previously explained that he plans to talk about it paid for his Oscars appearance.

You can bet that the public is anxious to hear Chris Rock’s side of the story and, when he finally does, it’s sure to be interesting. In the meantime though, I’d expect that comedians like Richard Ayoade will continue to make jokes about his and Smith’s awards show debacle.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.