Michael Che Defends Chris Rock As Will Smith’s Slap Discourse Continues

Michael Che on SNL Weekend Update
(Image credit: NBCUniversal)

It’s been over two months since arguably the most viral moment in Oscar history happened: Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage. Since the controversial unscripted incident happened, much of Hollywood has been sharing their own thoughts and opinions on it. The latest to comment is Saturday Night Live star and comedian Michael Che, who is defending Chris Rock for one element of the discourse. 

Che was asked this week on The Howard Stern Show how the situation may have affected how he feels when he goes on stage to do standup in recent months. When speaking to the viral moment, Michael Che said he felt like “we lost a hero that day” referring to Smith, along with defending the former SNL cast member and five-timer SNL host, saying this: 

One of the things that annoyed me was when it was happening people were like ‘Oh now he’s selling tickets.’ Yeah, he had a polished act that he wanted to present to people. And now people are buying tickets to hear him talk about this dumb shit he has zero interest in even bringing up. And I think for a long time that’s probably why he didn’t bring it up. Because he wanted to just get the story over with. He had an act, he was prepared for something else. And now he’s just hijacked his show. It annoyed the hell out of me.

Months ahead of Oscars night, it had been announced that Chris Rock was set to head out for his first standup tour in five years. The comedian’s Ego Death World Tour 2022 was planned and polished well before the big Oscar moment, but unfortunately, the timing made it look to some like he decided to go on tour in reaction to the incident. Rock got back on stage for his tour just days after Oscar Sunday in late March. 

On the Wednesday night after the Academy Awards, Rock took to a stage in Boston for his Ego Death Tour and told fans right off the bat that he had a “whole show” he wrote before the weekend and was still “processing” what happened. He said at “some point” he’d address it, but for now, he wanted to stick to the material he had planned to tell. 

Of course, following the incident, it most certainly didn’t hurt ticket sales, with Chris Rock being all over the news regarding the incident. As Michael Che also spoke to during his Howard Stern interview, Rock had not asked for the incident to happen, and it “hijacked” the work he had done and made things about Will Smith when the comedian looked to be hoping to not fan any flames and just tell the jokes he had planned to go on tour with prior to the Oscars. Check out the video clip featuring Che talking about the Rock slap: 

Following the incident, Will Smith not only resigned from the Academy, he was banned from the Oscars ceremony and related events for the next decade by the Academy as well. Aside from Smith’s public apologies and Rock’s very brief mentions of the incident, the two parties have remained mostly quiet about the viral TV moment. Most recently, Jada Pinkett Smith has called for the two men to “talk this out” and “reconcile.” 

In the meantime, Rock continues his Ego Death World Tour, which remains on the road all the way until November.  

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.