Jack Whitehall says comedians are checking material after Will Smith slap

The actor revealed he had once been grabbed in a headlock on stage by an audience member

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Jack Whitehall has said comic award show hosts will be “checking themselves when they write jokes” after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage over a joke he made while presenting an award at the Oscars.

The 33-year-old British comedian, who first found fame in TV series such as Bad Education and Fresh Meat, has hosted the Brit Awards multiple times.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Whitehall reflected on the fallout from the confrontation at the Academy Awards this year during which Smith, 53, stormed the stage to slap comedian Rock, 57, after he made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

Whitehall said: “I think hosts now going forward are definitely going to be checking themselves every time they write a joke for their monologues thinking that that’s happened.”

Jack Whitehall
Jack Whitehall

He went on to explain the difficulty audiences face when trying to decipher if events occurring on stage are scripted or not.

Reflecting on his own experience he said: “The only time anyone has ever actually got up on stage with me was quite scary… And the problem is when something like that happens, and you sort of saw it happen at the Oscars, most people think that it’s part of the show, so they don’t do anything.

“So I had a guy who was up on stage with me in a headlock, I felt quite vulnerable, but everyone was laughing in the room because they thought it was a bit (of the show) and then I caught out the corner of my eye the bouncers on the door, and they were laughing as well because they thought it was a set-up.

“So they wouldn’t have come up to my to my aid and that is slightly the problem with comedians, is when stuff goes wrong on stage, you always just assume that it’s part of a bit because no-one takes comedians seriously.”

Will Smith (R) hits Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood
Will Smith (R) hits Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood

Speaking to hosts Ed Balls and Susanna Reid, Whitehall added: “My piece of advice – and this is what I’ve always said in awards shows – is just be careful who you pick on.”

Taking aim at ex-GMB presenter Piers Morgan, he added: “You’ll notice about me ,Susanna, if ever I’m in a room, I always just throw Piers Morgan under the bus over and over again because I know that that’s a very safe target.

“Because there’s no way Piers would get up onto the stage quick enough to slap me, I would be able to run away in time.”

Former Labour MP and Strictly Come Dancing star Balls also ribbed Morgan, who famously stormed off the set of the breakfast show last year.

Balls said: “He wouldn’t walk on, Jack – he’d walk out.”

Whitehall joked about Morgan’s new venture, TalkTV, as he was signing off, saying: “I don’t want to get de-platformed and end up on TalkTV!”