Chris Rock returned to the stage for his hotly anticipated live Netflix special, Selective Outrage, on Saturday, and many of his friends and admirers in the comedy world showered him with praise ahead of the live event.
ET was on the carpet at the stand-up show and live viewing event at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, California, on Saturday, and spoke with a few of the comedy legends who came out to the big show.
“This is like the Super Bowl of comedy,” Arsenio Hall shared, referring to the groundbreaking live-streaming set Rock delivered on Netflix.
Blackish star Deon Cole shared similar sentiments about the special, explaining, “This is something that has never been done before, and this is something that’s gonna change the game for comedy… This is a historic moment.”
“It feels, for some reason to me, a little bit like a heavyweight fight,” Dana Carvey shared. “If feels anticipatory. It feels exciting.”
This was Netflix’s first-ever live, global streaming event, with Rock advertising the show as “no pre-records, no edits” in a promotional ad. “It’s going to be global in 190 countries all at once.”
“There’s a magic chemistry about [performing live],” Carvey told ET. “I think that the main thing is there’s no do-overs… you stumble a word, there’s no re-take or edit. And that liveness gives it all this energy, and I think that’s why people want to see it.
“And to [hear him] talk about Will Smith,” Carvey added with a laugh — which Rock certainly did.
Publicly, for the first time, the 58-year-old comedian addressed being slapped by Smith at the 94th Academy Awards ceremony during his live special, which went down at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre.
The “slap heard ’round the world” sent shockwaves through Hollywood at the time, and generated a great deal of support for Rock — particularly among his fellow comics.
“Everyone has stood by Chris wholeheartedly, due to the situation, and we all can’t wait to find out what he has to say, which is gonna be amazing,” Cole told ET. “We’re all on the edge of our seats for this wonderful night tonight.”
“You know how athletes stick together against Skip Bayless? That’s how comics are,” Hall shared. “No matter what goes down, we support each other. Because if I dog a comic, it’s a slippery slope for me… so I support freedom of speech, and anything a comic wants to do. I don’t know comics that are haters of other comics, so everybody was supporting Chris.”
“Everybody supports Chris. He’s just cool. He’s fun to hang out with. He’s a very thoughtful, sincere person,” Carvey said, “and I’m just glad to see, after what happened and all the trauma, that he emerged stronger and he’s doing that great special and I’m just happy for him.”
“I think everyone always has pretty big respect for him in the comedy world and knows he’s one of the comedy greats,” fellow SNL alum David Spade added.
This sentiment was roundly shared by the stand-up legends who attended the event, with many praising him for his talent, and his longevity.
“He’s always been like a cultural phenomenon,” The Daily Show’s Ronny Chieng said.
“Chris does something a little extra — he often makes you laugh, and he educates you. And I appreciate that,” Hall praised.
“I am so proud of this guy, this is an amazing moment. Knowing Chris this long, seeing all his specials, and seeing him getting to this point in his career is absolutely amazing,” J.B. Smoove shared. “He’s definitely locked himself in as one of the greats… I think this is an amazing time for him.”
After the comedy special, a source told ET, “Chris had been very focused on this comedy special for the past year and his hard work paid off and now he can relax.”
The source explained that this special was “a big deal” not only because it was a live-streaming event, which was unprecedented, but it was the first time he addressed “the slap” in any meaningful way.
“He said everything he wanted to say,” the source says. “It was funny, self-deprecating, and thought-provoking.” Now, “Chris is ready to move on.”
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