The Laugh Factory in Hollywood is showing its full support for comedian Chris Rock after he was slapped by actor Will Smith while presenting at the Oscars on Sunday.
The comedy club’s marquee now shows an image of Chris Rock with the message: “Laugh Factory supports First Amendment right for all comedians. The comedy community loves & supports you Chris.”
Rock was alone on stage to present the Best Documentary Feature category when he made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith: “Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it, all right?”
His joke took a shot at Pinkett Smith’s hair loss; referencing the shaved head of the main character in the 1997 film “G.I. Jane.”
The camera panned to Pinkett Smith rolling her eyes, and Smith next to her appearing to be laughing.
However, the next shot shows Smith walking up on the Dolby Theatre stage and giving Rock what’s been dubbed “the slap heard around the world,” after broadcasting live in the U.S. and internationally.
Pinkett Smith has been vocal since 2018 about her alopecia diagnosis, an incurable disease in which the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles, causing baldness.
“Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,” Smith said in a public apology to Rock and the Academy posted Monday. The Academy has said it started a formal review of the incident.
Pinkett Smith hasn’t addressed the incident directly, but on Tuesday morning, she posted a message on Instagram saying “This is a season for healing and I’m here for it.”
Hollywood in general had mixed reactions to the slap, some coming out in support of Smith and others in support of Rock.
The Laugh Factory’s owner, Jamie Masada, gave a statement to KTLA, saying, “The Laugh Factory supports Chris Rock’s right to perform comedy and his First Amendment right to speak his mind. Freedom of speech is guaranteed under the Constitution to all Americans, including comedians. We are proud to be part of the comedy community that loves and supports Chris.”
Rock has not posted a statement or apology for the joke, but he declined to file a police report, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.