Oscars 2023: Jimmy Kimmel Kicks Off Ceremony With String Of Jokes About You Know What

Will Smith's ears were most likely burning during this year's Academy Awards.
Jimmy Kimmel on stage at the 2023 Oscars
Jimmy Kimmel on stage at the 2023 Oscars
Kevin Winter via Getty Images

Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel kicked off this year’s ceremony with a joke about… well… you can probably guess.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 12 months, you’re probably aware that at last year’s Academy Awards, Will Smith made headlines when he came on stage and slapped Chris Rock, following a joke the comic made about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair.

The incident made headlines the world over, and led the former Fresh Prince star to resign from the Film Academy.

He was also banned from attending the awards ceremony for the next decade, meaning he did not join his fellow winners during Sunday night’s event.

Chris Rock and Will Smith on stage at last year's Oscars
Chris Rock and Will Smith on stage at last year's Oscars
Myung Chun via Getty Images

US talk show host Jimmy began the evening with a comedy monologue sending up some of the A-listers in attendance – as well as one very notable absentee.

He first (rather offensively, we should add) alluded to the incident when he said the high presence of Irish nominees “means the chances of a fight just went way up”.

More explicitly referencing the slap, Jimmy continued: “We want you to have fun, feel safe and, most importantly, we want me to feel safe. So, we have strict policies in place.”

“If anyone in this theatre commits an act of violence, at any point, you will be awarded the award for Best Actor, and permitted to give a 19-minute speech,” he joked. “If anything unpredictable or violent happens during the ceremony, just do what you did last year. Nothing. Maybe even give the assailant a hug.”

Jimmy also joked he’d brought in some A-list reinforcements if anyone present “gets mad at a joke and decides you want to get jiggy with it”.

Later in the show, before the winner for Best Documentary Feature was announced, Jimmy pointed out to viewers this was the moment in last year’s show the altercation took place.

“Hopefully this year it goes without a hitch,” he said. “Or at least without Hitch. Put your hands together and then keep them to yourself, for Riz Ahmed and Questlove.”

Jimmy’s opening monologue also lampooned the absence of female nominees in this year’s Best Director category, James Cameron’s decision not to attend the ceremony despite his Best Picture nomination and box office bomb Babylon.

Check out all of this year’s Oscar nominations here.


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