Chris rock

Ten films starring comedians

The news that Dave Chappelle has the unwelcome distinction of being the second big-name stand-up comic to be attacked on stage this year has the worrying signs of a possible trend. The first of course was when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a tasteless joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair (or lack of it) at the 2022 Academy Awards. There is an odd twist of fate about these confrontations though. Back in 1996, Jada Pinkett (as was) played Carla Purty in the remake of Jerry Lewis’s The Nutty Professor. In one scene, she watches with tears of laughter in her eyes as boyfriend Buddy Love (Eddie Murphy) mounts

The art of the witty riposte

One hundred or so years ago, a down-in-the-dumps Joseph Roth wrote to Stefan Zweig: ‘The barbarians have taken over.’ Later on, Zweig committed suicide and Roth drank himself to death. They were both talented writers depressed about the state of the world. Reading their correspondence last week I had to laugh. Neither Roth nor Zweig had experienced Hollywood, and obviously would have died much earlier if they had done so. Which brings me to what everyone is still talking about, how a trained seal smacked another seal half its size during the Academy Awards. It was done in order to protect his wife from the barbs of the smaller one,

Will Smith’s slap was a triumph

Will Smith’s straight arm slap of Chris Rock at the Oscars was, for my money, the most interesting event ever to have transpired at any awards show in history. It pips even my previous favourite, which was when Jarvis Cocker ran onstage during the 1996 Brits to reveal his buttocks in protest at Michael Jackson’s ludicrously overblown performance of Earth Song. Did Rock ask to be attacked for humiliating Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, on account of her alopecia? Yes, of course. But that was the point. The joke was predicated entirely on the comic getting away with saying the unsayable – a formulation of words intended to be deeply provocative

What Will Smith’s slap means for comedy

Now this is a story all about how The Oscars got flipped-turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute. Just sit right there. I’ll tell you how I told told a joke about a chick with no hair… Well, I think we all know what the opening routine of Chris Rock’s next Netflix special is going to be. Say what you want about the Oscars, this year people are certainly talking about them. But not about the movies, about the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, slapping comedian Chris Rock on a worldwide broadcast in front of the Hollywood elite. Like every British comedian, after I woke up and read the news, I ran