Jay Leno concerned for Will Smith after Oscars slap: ‘This is real anger.’

Veteran standup comic Jay Leno was making the rounds promoting a show he’ll be doing Sunday in West Palm Beach when he decided he needed to voice his concern for Will Smith because, after watching the actor slap Chris Rock at the Oscars, he noted, “This is real anger.”

After spending more than 20 years hosting the “The Tonight Show,” the comedian known for his extensive automobile collection featured on “Jay Leno’s Garage,” continues to make time to entertain crowds with his particular brand of jokes. During some interviews for his upcoming performance at the Kravis Center on April 17, Leno appeared to voluntarily turn the conversation to the 94th Academy Awards.

In one conversation with the Palm Beach Daily News, Leno noted the incident reportedly spurred on by Rock’s bald joke at the expense of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and stated it wasn’t the slap that bothered him about the incident.

“To me, the thing that’s most disturbing wasn’t the slap,” the comic explained, “because he was kind of smirking after he slapped [Rock]. It was yelling of the obscenities. Then you go, ‘Whoa. What’s going on here?'”

“This is real anger,” Leno explained.

In another interview with WPTV, the comedian appeared to expand on those thoughts, delving into Smith’s history in relationships and as a public figure, “I think there’s more to it than that obviously, you know, can we all come to the agreement, open marriages don’t work. Okay.”

“I’m sorry. You know, if you just want to screw around, just screw around, but let’s not pretend that open marriages… and I’ve never, I’ve never seen one of those work out,” Leno continued unprompted. “Maybe there’s people… that I again, I’m not forcing myself on anybody. But, you know something, Will is a good guy….I’m not making fun of him. I know him.”

“He’s always been a decent guy, model citizen, good role model. There’s some emotional thing there and I hope he gets it straightened out,” Leno concluded on the topic of Smith’s character.

As for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ decision to ban the actor for ten years, Leno told the Palm Beach Daily News that he didn’t understand the point of an investigation.

“What are you investigating?” he asked. “It had to be the most recorded assault in history. I saw the back of his shoe, I saw Chris’ ear. There were so many cameras on this incident. What are you investigating? I know sometimes things are just what they appear to be.”

Having found himself in trouble for poorly received jokes in the past, the comedian explained that he strives for a neutral approach to his shows. “Traditional stand-up comedy,” Leno said. “I’ve taken politics out, only because it’s so divisive…Can’t we just have comedy be comedy? Can’t we just be fun?”

“I find that there are an awful lot of people that I really like, but I know if we discuss politics, we wouldn’t agree. So I don’t bring it up,” he added.

“It’s just comedy. It’s not opinion,” he labored to make clear. “It’s just fun. It’s light. The news is horrible – the economy, inflation. It’s just comedy. Have some laughs. It’s light-hearted. Have a good time. I’m not attacking anybody. Everybody seems to like it. That’s pretty much where we are.”


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