Comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish was quick to defend Will Smith’s now-infamous slap after Chris Rock insulted Jada Pinkett Smith at the Oscars on Sunday night.
Haddish, who was a presenter at the awards ceremony, called the on-stage moment “beautiful” when asked by reporters. Smith struck Rock after he made a rude joke about Pinkett Smith’s hair loss, which is caused by the autoimmune disorder alopecia. She began shaving her head last summer to attempt to offset the damage.
“When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife, that meant so much to me,” Haddish told People magazine at the Governors Ball Oscars after-party.
“As a woman, who has been unprotected, for someone to say, ‘Keep my wife’s name out your mouth, leave my wife alone,’ that’s what your husband is supposed to do, right? Protect you.”
Other comedians, however, were not so sure about the slap and fear that it will make audience members feel they have the right to attack comedians they don’t agree with.
Kathy Griffin said, “Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.”
Patton Oswalt was of the same mind, tweeting, “Very nervous for my shows at the @TheIrvineImprov tomorrow and Tuesday. Anyone have a catcher’s mask I can borrow?”
Haddish, however, insisted that the Best Actor award winner’s actions were the right thing to do.
“Maybe the world might not like how it went down,” she told People, “but for me, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives.”
Rock was introducing the Best Documentary category when he made the off-hand joke, “Jada, I love ya. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it.” This is in reference to the 1997 military drama “G.I. Jane” in which Demi Moore had her head shaved for her role.
Smith initially laughed, but quickly stormed the stage and slapped Rock. After sitting down, he told the comedian, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f-cking mouth.”
Rock was clearly still processing what had just happened and kept the show going by saying, “That was the — greatest night in the history of television.”