In his opening monologue on “Saturday Night Live,” host and comedian Jerrod Carmichael swore he would not do it. “I do not want to talk about it,” he said. He did not even have to say what that was.
But quite rightly, “SNL” found several ways to address the much-publicized incident from last weekend’s Oscars, in which Will Smith beat Chris Rock (a former “SNL” cast member) after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.
The Slap was addressed most directly in a sketch aired about halfway through the program, which cast Chris Redd as Smith and Carmichael as a seat-filler at the Oscars show, which was next to Smith moments before Rock came out with his remarks.
Carmichael first claimed to be a fan of Smiths, saying he admired his movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” and still used his song “Gettin ‘Jiggy Wit It” as his ringtone. He asked if he could take a selfie just as they noticed that Rock had arrived on stage.
Next, we heard the sound of Rock’s voice uttering his now infamous joke: “Sure, I love you. ‘GI Jane 2’ can’t wait to see it.
Redd said to Carmichael, “Hey, I’m back right away, man,” and walked out of the shot.
Then we heard the slap and saw how the expression on Carmichael’s face changed from joy to confusion.
When Redd nonchalantly returned to his seat, he asked Carmichael, “Hey, so where are you from, man?”
A shaken Carmichael stammered his answer, “Uh, nowhere, man,” he said.
Redd continued to maintain a conversation with Carmichael, occasionally shouting remarks with explosives on stage.
Soon, the two were joined by Kyle Mooney, who played another seat-filler who was unaware of Carmichael’s nonverbal warnings to stay away.
“Oh my God, we’re right next to Will Smith?” exclaimed Mooney. “I have to tweet this.” He looked at his phone, “And he’s trending,” he said, suddenly getting nervous.
Redd, who was still lively, introduced himself to Mooney and asked, “What is your name?”
“I do not – they did not give me one,” he replied uncomfortably.
Redd said the last two years had been complicated because Covid, Zoom meetings and – his voice shook here – “Red Table Talk.”
When Carmichael’s phone rang, he tried to stop it from playing “Gettin ‘Jiggy Wit It,” but Redd asked him not to turn it off. “Do not answer that, man!” he said. “Let it ring! Everything is beautiful, you!
This week’s opening monologue
At the beginning of his monologue, Carmichael made his claim that he would not discuss Slap – “Are you not tired of talking about it?” he asked the audience – as he continued to reflect on it, without actually describing it or naming its participants.
Though excited about the topic at the beginning of the week, Carmichael said, “On Friday, I made a promise to myself – I promised myself I would never talk about it again.” That changed after Lorne Michaels, the “SNL” creator and executive producer, visited his locker room, Carmichael said.
“He thought I think you should talk about it,” he said. “He said the nation must be healed.”
Carmichael also talked about his new HBO special, “Rothaniel,” in which he comes out as gay. In response to applause from the audience, Carmichael said it was “nice, but an expected response in New York.”
He continued: “That is actually why I live here. If you say you’re gay in New York, you can ride the bus for free and people will just give you pizza. Honestly, if you’re gay in New York, you can host ‘Saturday Night Live’. This is the most homosexual thing you can do. “
In the closing moments of his monologue, Carmichael took the opportunity to speak to former President Obama. “And unfortunately I have some news for you, Barack,” he said. “You’re not going to like this. We need you back because I think you’ll have to talk about it. The nation needs to be healed.”
Cold of the week open
The leadoff sketch this weekend was a parody of “Fox & Friends,” which featured Alex Moffat, Heidi Gardner and Mikey Day as hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade; Kenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon as judges Clarence Thomas and Ginni Thomas; and Cecily Strong as Judge Jeanine Pirro.
The sketch ended with James Austin Johnson, in his recurring role as former President Trump, who could not resist coming up with his thoughts on Slap.
“I saw slap,” Johnson said as Trump. “I enjoyed slapping. I was very impressed with Hitch. What an arm on Hitch. I always knew Hitch had an arm. “Still, he said the Oscars had been a sad night:” That kind of behavior would not help Kevin James get a date with Allegra Cole, I must tell you, he explained.
Weekend Update Jokes of Week
Over at the Weekend Update counter, anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che continued to riff on – what else? – Clap.
Intelligence officials say Vladimir Putin is being misinformed by advisers about how poorly the Russian military is doing in Ukraine. Which is a bit like Will Smith’s agent saying to him, “You broke it at the Oscars.” Will Smith – for those of you who do not know – went on stage during the Oscars and beat Chris Rock after making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith. Which I think was a shameful act that sets a terrible precedent for having to defend your wife at awards ceremonies.
During his speech of thanks, Will Smith said, “Love will make you do crazy things.” Do you know what else makes you do crazy things? Crazy. But I understand where Will comes from. You can not expect him to sit there and watch another man jump over his wife without signing an NDA
Jost continued the thread:
Yesterday, Will Smith retired from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He did not want to, but then Jada gave him that look. If Will Smith had been expelled, he would have joined a small group of people who were thrown out of the academy, including Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski and Harvey Weinstein. Or, as they are also known, “Bad Boys for Life.”
Weekend update Guest of the week
Just when it seemed like every celebrity you could think of had commented on Slap, “SNL” found one with a few more thoughts to share: OJ Simpson, who was played by Thompson during a visit to the Weekend Update desk .
Asked by Che whether he was on Smith’s or Rock’s side, Thompson kindly replied, “You know me – I hate conflicts.” He also claimed not to understand Rocks reference to “GI Jane.” When it was explained to him that it was a movie from the 1990s, Thompson replied, “The 90s? Oh, I can not remember anything from the 90s.”