Jimmy Kimmel Nailed the Number and Tone of His Will Smith Oscars Jokes

Kimmel didn’t dwell on last year’s incident, but he also didn’t let Hitch off the hook
Jimmy Kimmel Nailed the Number and Tone of His Will Smith Oscars Jokes

Last week, Jimmy Kimmel made the bold claim that he would fight anyone who rushed the stage at this past Sunday’s Oscars ceremony provided they were smaller in stature than himself – fortunately for Kimmel, Ke Huy Quan was in a good mood last night.

One year after Will Smith stormed the stage and slapped his wife’s name out of Chris Rock’s mouth, Kimmel played the perfect comedic relief pitcher to calm the game down during an Academy Awards rehab year. The last twelve months were littered with endless cracks about The Slap, but Kimmel managed to find the right timbre – and, more importantly the right volume – for his comedic commentary on last year’s, uh, “incident.” Kimmel jabbed Smith as much as he roasted the coddling chorus of celebrities who applauded the last Oscars host’s assaulter and waited with baited breath for their name to be called last night.

A safe choice considering his track record with the ceremony, Kimmel’s third Oscars hosting gig went off without a hitch – “and without Hitch,” as Kimmel said.

"If anything unpredictable or violent happens during the ceremony, just do what you did last year — nothing,” said Kimmel in a warmly received opening monologue that tastefully teased the elephant in the room, but didn’t quite dwell on it. “If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence, you will be awarded the Oscar for best actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech,” he added.

Throughout the night, Kimmel kept the focus on this past year’s films and the artists being honored while not ignoring the uncomfortable recent history of his job – before the award for Best Costume Design was announced, Kimmel acknowledged that the category in question was the exact moment when Smith lost his s— last year. And, when the evening entered its fourth laborious hour, Kimmel cracked, “At this point in the show, it kind of makes you miss the slapping a little bit, right?”

Unlike other comedians who mined the topic so dry that a Balrog is about to come out of it, Kimmel only ever tackled The Slap when appropriate, and never to such an insufferable degree that the night felt like a sequel to last year’s ceremony that couldn’t shake the baggage of its predecessor. Kimmel never let Smith – or Hollywood itself – off the hook for casting a pall over his third performance as Oscars host, but he didn’t let it define his performance, either.

With Rock’s feelings on the subject finally explained in Netflix fashion and another Oscars night in the books, perhaps the world of comedy has slapped The Slap a final time.

But probably not.

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