Comedians Are Worried About Their Safety On Stage Following Will Smith’s Slap At The Oscars
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Comedians and celebrities around the world have growing concerns that Will Smith's Oscars slap may have a trickle-down effect to comedy shows - even on a local level.
Smith attracted headlines all around the world this week after he hit Chris Rock in the face at the 94th Academy Awards.
The slap came after the comedian mocked Jada Pinkett-Smith's lack of hair, which she shaves short due to alopecia.
Rock said: "Jada, can't wait for G.I. Jane 2," which prompted laughs from Smith until he saw his wife roll her eyes and look upset, which saw him storm the stage to slap the award presenter.
Smith's violent outburst has been widely condemned - even by the Academy itself - and comedians now say they worry that his actions will turn into a real-life precedent.
Star Wars' jedi Mark Hamill summed the feeling up adeptly.
"Stand-up comics are very adept at handling hecklers," he said on social media. "Violent physical assault... not so much."
Hamill’s tweet drew the distinction between speech and action, which American radio personality Howard Stern echoed on on his SiriusXM radio show.
“You don’t hit people over speech, certainly not at the Academy Awards, and Will Smith’s got to contain himself," Stern said.
Jim Carrey agreed, adding that 'if you want to yell from the audience and show disapproval or say something on Twitter [that’s ok]'.
"You do not have the right to walk up on stage and smack somebody in the face ‘cuz they said words," the comedy great added.
Kathy Griffin went on to express a concern that many comedians are likely to now feel.
“Let me tell you something,” Griffin tweeted, “It’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a comedian.
Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian.— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) March 28, 2022
Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.
"Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theatres.”
One Sydney-based comic, who spoke to LADbible on the condition of anonymity, said the fear of audience clap back is now alive and well in Australia.
"Most comedy rooms don’t have security of any description and nor should they have," the comic said. "And it takes just one drunk entitled d**khead.
"It’s one of the few areas where a woman can publicly call out a man on his behaviour and I shudder to think what could happen if it all went sideways."
There’s never an excuse for violence.— Rob Schneider (@RobSchneider) March 28, 2022
Melbourne comic Charisa Bossinakis agreed, telling LADbible that there is a fear that some may 'try to be the next Will Smith'.
"I definitely think some audience members will be influenced by Smith’s behaviour. Beyond being fearful, it's also a great shame because that’s not what comedy is about.
"If you don’t like a joke, take it up with the comedian or simply don’t laugh.
"In many ways, comedy is supposed to open up a dialogue about different issues; the intent is never to incite violence."
So the message is clear: keep your hands to yourselves, folks.