Chris Rock finally gets his say in the new stand-up special

A year after Will Smith beat him on the Oscars stage, Chris Rock is finally ready to have his say.

The 58-year-old comedian will perform his first stand-up special since last year’s Oscars on Saturday night. He does in “Chris Rock: Selective Outrage,” which streams live on Netflix at 10 p.m. EST. Not only will Rock present an hour or so of stand-up from Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theater, but Netflix – in its first-ever live show – will round out the special with star-studded commentary.

The pre-show, which begins at 9:30 p.m., will feature Paul McCartney, Jerry Seinfeld, Matthew McConaughey, Cedric the Entertainer, Ice-T and two hosts from last year’s Oscars: Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer. Afterwards, Rock’s set, Dana Carvey and David Spade will welcome guests including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Arsenio Hall and JB Smoove.

While Smith has apologized and repeatedly spoken out about the incident since last March, Rock has shunned all the usual platforms where celebrities often vent their feelings. He never sat down with Oprah Winfrey, turning away the many media outlets who would have liked to get an exclusive in-depth interview.

Instead, Rock has been touring new material in a long string of performances over the past year as part of its Ego Death Tour. The shows, announced ahead of the 2022 Oscars, included appearances with Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart.

Along the way, Rock has often worked in jokes and reflections on the slap, though it was never more than an element of his shows. There’s no guarantee he’ll be speaking on Saturday night, but it’s widely expected to be his forum of choice and he’s long pointed to it.

Rock first broke his public silence about the slap three nights after last year’s Academy Awards in Boston. “How was your weekend?” he asked the crowd. He added that he’s “still sort of processing what happened.”

Now, after extensive editing, Rock will step into the cultural spotlight just a week before the Oscars on March 12, where this year’s host Jimmy Kimmel is sure to encounter the slap again. Following the events of last year, Smith resigned from the film academy. The academy board banned Smith from the Oscars and all other academy events for a decade.

At the annual nominees’ luncheon held last month, the Academy’s President, Janet Yang, expressed regret at the way the incident was handled and called the Academy’s response “inadequate”. Bill Kramer, the academy’s executive director, said the academy has since established a crisis communications team to prepare for and respond more quickly to the unexpected.

Selective Outrage is Rock’s second special for Netflix, following 2018’s Tamborine. They’re part of a $40 million deal Rock signed with the streamer in 2016.

While competitors have entered live streaming and esports, Selective Outrage marks Netflix’s first foray into live programming. Netflix, with 231 million subscribers worldwide, also recently committed to streaming next year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, signaling that “Selective Outrage” could just be the beginning of a new trend.


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