Emmys host Kenan Thompson expects a conflict-free ceremony—unlike the 2022 Oscars.
The Saturday Night Live star spoke about his upcoming gig during a Wednesday preview event in Los Angeles. At one point during the night, Thompson addressed the infamous slapping incident at the 94th Academy Awards, where Oscar-winner Will Smith physically attacked Chris Rock over an insensitive joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s alopecia condition.
Thompson said he didn’t anticipate any on-stage assaults during the upcoming Emmys ceremony, as he intends to keep the “roast-y” jokes to a minimum.
“I think a good comic is supposed to be aware,” Thompson said, as reported by Deadline. “I mean I’m not calling Chris a bad comic, he just wasn’t necessarily aware of that situation, so it’s not fair to lump him into that conversation. But overall those kind of roast-y kind of people, you have to be smart, because you know, there’s a way to jab at people without offending, like for real for real. I don’t think offense necessarily gets us anywhere as a society.”
The “slap heard around the world” went down as Rock was presenting the award for Best Documentary Feature. Before announcing the winner, the comedian took a few jabs at some audience members, including Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” Rock said, referring to Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.
Moments later, Smith walked onto the stage and slapped Rock across the face. He then walked back to his seat and shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!”
“Wow, dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke,” Rock responded, seemingly unaware that Pinkett Smith was diagnosed with alopecia.
Following the incident, Smith resigned from the Academy and was banned from attending the ceremony for 10 years. He issued a video apology to Rock several months later, but the comedian didn’t seem to buy it.
“I feel like a hug moment would have stopped all of that, you know what I’m saying?” Thompson said about the slap. “But it was so unfathomable that [Rock] didn’t know that was even coming. He would have never in his wildest dreams have imagined his friend of 30-plus years would attempt some shit like that.”
The74th Primetime Emmy Awards will air at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.