Iconic Oscars host Billy Crystal jokes about Will Smith-Chris Rock slap during Broadway show

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 13: (L-R) Billy Crystal and Jimmy Kimmel with Champagne Collet & OBC Wines as they celebrate the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on March 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Champagne Collet & OBC Wines)

Billy Crystal and Jimmy Kimmel at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards. (Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Champagne Collet & OBC Wines)

Oscars co-host Amy Schumer had one of the night’s best ad libs when she reappeared on the telecast about 15 minutes after Will Smith shocked the world — including all of those seated inside the Kodak Theatre… minus Questlove — by slapping presenter Chris Rock when the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.

“Did I miss anything?,” Schumer quipped, breaking (some) of the tension in the room. “There’s a different vibe in here.”

Former Oscar hosts have weighed in, too, in the days since.

That includes one of the most beloved emcees of all time, Billy Crystal, who mentioned the instantly infamous moment during a curtain call for the final dress rehearsal of his new Broadway musical adaptation, Mr. Saturday Night.

“We got through a show and no one got slapped,” cracked Crystal to laughs and cheers in a video posted on the show’s Twitter (watch below). “Unbelievable.”

Crystal hosted the Oscars nine times between 1990 and 2012 (second most to Bob Hope’s 19), bringing a blend of quick wit and humorous song-and-dance parodies that earned him critical acclaim, high ratings and four Emmys.

Other former hosts to speak publicly about the incident include Jimmy Kimmel and Whoopi Goldberg — which makes sense considering both have talk shows. (In a viral tweet Sunday night, Conan O’Brien — who has hosted the Emmy but not the Oscars — joked, “Just saw the Will Smith slap. Anyone have a late night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?”).

Kimmel, who hosted consecutive Oscars telecasts in 2017 and 2018, appeared on The Bill Simmons Podcast, where he expressed shock over Smith’s violence. Kimmel called Smith “the nicest guy in Hollywood” and suggested the moment was both shocking and surreal as it would have been had Tom Hanks done the same thing.

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Kimmel also spent a large portion of his monologue Monday night breaking down “The Slap,” which occurred just across the street from his Hollywood Boulevard headquarters.

“It’s now part of our lives forever, we will never stop talking about this,” Kimmel said. “It was so shocking the only thing that I can really compare it to is when Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield’s ears. Even Kanye was like, ‘You went on stage and did what at an awards show?’

“And the weirdest part is that initially Will Smith laughed at that joke. But then he must’ve looked over and noticed that Jada was not amused and was like, ‘Uh-oh, I better do something.’ And boy did he do something.”

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Kimmel also commended Rock, saying “he handled it about as well as you could possibly handle being slapped on stage at the Oscars. He didn’t even flinch when Will slapped him,” Kimmel said. “I would’ve been crying so hard.”

Kimmel knows a thing or two about shocking Oscars moments. He was host of the 2017 telecast when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly named La La Land, not actual winner Moonlight, Best Picture in 2017.

“I’m a little bummed ‘cause now I’ve only hosted the second craziest Oscars of all time,” he mused.

Four-time Oscars host and one-time winner Goldberg dissected the stunning moment with her cohosts on The View on segments airing Monday and Tuesday.

“I think it was a lot of stuff probably built up,” Goldberg said, like Kimmel, noting Rock had previously taken a jab at Pinkett Smith at the 2016 Oscars. “I think he had one of those moments where it was just like, ‘Just stop.’ I get it, not everybody acts the way we would like them to under pressure. Some people just snap. He snapped.”

The co-hosts also wondered what kind of penalty Smith could face.

“We’re not going to take that Oscar from him,” said Goldberg who is not only an Academy member but also sits on the Board of Governors. “There will be consequences, I’m sure, but I don’t think that’s what they’ll do — particularly because Chris said, ‘Listen, I’m not pressing any charges.’”

Then on Tuesday’s show, after Smith issued an apology on social media, Goldberg said she accepted his mea culpa, “because I know how important it is to have people to say, ‘I hear you.’”