Chris Rock adds third Durham show following Oscars slap; local comedians weigh in

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BySamantha Kummerer WTVD logo
Friday, April 1, 2022
Local comedians react as Chris Rock adds third Durham show after slap
Chris Rock announced a third Durham date to his 'Ego Death' World Tour on Friday.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Chris Rock announced a third date to his 'Ego Death' World Tour on Friday.

Rock will now perform at the Durham Performing Arts Center on April 16, 17, and June 8.

His tour said the third date was added following popular demand.

Demand and prices for Rock's tour are souring nationwide following the viral slap from Will Smith at the Oscars.

On Friday, Triangle comedians voiced their support for Rock.

"I believe that any kind of publicity is good publicity. So that's the perfect example. He flipped it and now and everybody wants to see him. That's a great thing," said local comedian Antonio Jackson, known on stage as "Just Joking Jack."

Jackson said that while he's a fan of Smith's, the slap following Rock's joke about Jada Pinkett was unnecessary.

"As a fan of Will Smith, I was a little disappointed, just because I feel like he's done the comedy. He's been in the game long enough and the initial insult or joke, I felt like wasn't too hard of a blow. I feel like he (Rock) didn't deserve that," Jackson said.

Pinkett suffers from a condition that causes hair loss and Rock made a joke about Pinkett's hair. Some on social media called out Rock for crossing the line, but comedians didn't take it as overly offensive.

"Obviously, I'm not Jada Pinkett Smith. I don't know what she felt in that situation. But I don't think the joke was too far. I think it was a funny one-off," said comedian Spencer Bland. "I've seen multiple comedians, myself included, who you know, they're vibing with the audience and you say something, you're like, oh, that doesn't hit exactly. And then you just move on. The only difference here is that no one else moved on. And Will Smith decided to attack him on stage."

Bland, has performed in the Triangle for five years and said he has had someone rush at him on stage before which is a slight concern some comedians have.

"If you're funny, you shouldn't have to worry about someone coming on stage. I think if you say something offensive enough, and someone comes on stage and does try to attack you I mean, that's definitely messed up on their part, but like your job as a comedian is to not push it that far."

Another local comedian Brent Blakeney said he doesn't think the incident will spur more physical attacks on comedians.

"In 10 years have probably had three verbal altercations with an audience member and not in like a screaming battle, but they didn't like something I said, I responded back and forth. I have probably seen it happen 10 times and this is over thousands and thousands of hours of shows," Blakeney said.

He said if comedians are concerned about that they should likely reevaluate what content they are sharing.

"I think that you have a responsibility to speak in a way that while you may speak recklessly and you may say things people don't like, you also have to own up to that," Blakeney said. "If what you're saying is upsetting people, you don't get to say these are just jokes, you have to own it. And if you can't own it, then you shouldn't say it."

Bland said he's concerned about the opposite happening.

"I really hope this doesn't happen. I think it might empower comedians to try and push the envelope further," Bland said. "I think at the local level, some people might feel empowered to be like oh, well, I need to get this reaction now."

Jackson said that sometimes crossing the line a little comes with the territory and both the audience and performers have to have tough skin. He said he won't be changing how he performs.

"It's not gonna change anything, how I perform, how I move forward. I feel like it shouldn't change anybody's perspective. Nobody's going to like you 100% anywhere you go. There's always something you say that's going to offend somebody to some extent, but stay true to whatever you do, whatever your craft is," Jackson said.

Smith did issue an apology following the incident.

"I think as a comedian, like your number one job is making sure the people who are in those seats have a good time of your show and you want them to laugh and you want them to feel you know, safe and yes, you can push the envelope and their boundaries of what they think safe is but you never want to attack anyones like personal appearance or beliefs or culture or anything like that. Comedy is supposed to be fun," Bland said.