Chris Rock’s first stand-up set since the Slap: “How was your weekend?”

Before Chris Rock even started his new hour-long set on stage at Boston’s Wilbur Theater on Wednesday night – the opening performance of his new US tour and his first public appearance since The Slap – he had to wait for not one but two standing ovations , plus a guy who yelled “Damn Will Smith!” Then everyone roared for this guy too.

“How was your weekend?” Rock began, smiling exactly the way you imagine him right now.

Almost as an apology, he explained that he didn’t intend to say much about the incident: “I don’t have a lot of bullshit about what happened, so if you just heard that i got a whole show i wrote before this weekend i’m still figuring out what happened so at some point i’ll talk about this shit And it will be serious and funny.

Then, with the same grace he showed on Sunday night, he went from slap-happy Will Smith to the shit he wanted to talk about, like why COVID wasn’t deadly enough. “AIDS,” he said, “broke Queen… I’ve been wearing a mask on my dick for 25 years.” He mocked anti-vaxxers who protest they don’t know what’s in the photo. “I don’t know what’s in Fruit Loops,” Rock said, “but I know what’s not in it: fruit.”

Rock was dressed head to toe in bright white: white shirt, white suit with white sleeves rolled up to the elbows, white high shoes. A single spotlight cast a giant shadow of Chris Rock 20 feet behind him. He seemed both weighed down from the past few days and thrilled to be back on stage telling jokes to people who really wanted to hear them, no matter how tough they were.

At the Oscars, he told a lame joke about G.I. Jane and gets mugged by a movie star. At the Wilbur Theater he could say he don’t think Meghan Markle is black—”I think she is not white”—and get a huge laugh. “What did you expect” from the British royal family? “Didn’t they invent colonialism? One of Rock’s boldest claims of the night was that it wasn’t racist for a member of the royal family to ask him how the baby was going to be black. “Even black people want to know how black the baby will be! Is it a Stephen baby? A Lil Nas X baby?” If Markle wanted to be kissed by her white in-laws, she should have “married the The Kardashians. They like black people more than black people.

The best elements of Rock’s new act are when it comes to terms with the ironies and compromises of his incredibly wealthy life, and its corrosive effect on his judgment, his ability to raise his children (“my kids are rich kids, and I ‘ve always hated rich kids”), and his love life as a 57-year-old single black man who has to put on bifocals to read the grim texts he gets from a thirsty woman he doesn’t. never met and doesn’t know named Candace. Rock has trashed on past specials for his life in a gated community, but now, he said onstage Wednesday night, “every lawn in my white suburban New Jersey has a Black Lives Matter sign on it.” . He started to wonder if they thought they had to put up a BLM sign or else a black pharaoh would send a plague to kill their firstborn son. He said he felt guilty jumping the line at Disneyworld, but he also liked “jumping in front of fat white people.” (“I don’t usually make big jokes, but white people in Disneyworld – damn it.”)

After 59 minutes, Rock had achieved something incredible under the circumstances: he managed to banish almost all thoughts of Will Smith from our minds. He was hiding all the time, though. About halfway through the show, in the middle of a long story about her daughter getting in big trouble at her very expensive high school, a few audience members started making noise with each other; Rock tried to talk through the commotion but eventually he stopped and asked if everything was okay. Yes, he was told. He didn’t look reassured and nodded at the assassination scene in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X“Is someone about to shout stick out your hand out of my pocket and shoot me?

There was nothing but love for Rock in the air all night at the Wilbur, which made this moment all the more sad and unsettling. He was still shaken by the onstage violence on Sunday night – because of course he was – and now less than 72 hours later, there he was, back on stage, wincing. A few minutes later, the commotion started again, and Rock had to stop again, and this time a huge, black-suited security guard walked forward a few feet from the stage right. He was ready to pounce. For a split second, Rock looked crestfallen, wondering aloud, “Is this how the whole tour is going to be?”

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