Chris Rock wanted to ”solve the problem” of Hollywood’s lack of diversity by visiting his local cinema.
The 51-year-old comedian visited a theater in Compton, California, to discuss the Oscar-nominated movies and #OscarsSoWhite controversy in order to get a ”fresh perspective” on the situation.
He said: ”Tonight I’ve been calling out Hollywood on lack of diversity, and you know what, I don’t want to just complain. I want to help solve the problem and that’s going to take a fresh perspective. So I went far away from Hollywood, I went as far away from Hollywood as I could.”
The audience in the Dolby Theatre were then shown footage of Chris outside the theater, stopping moviegoers to gather their thoughts.
He asked one man: ”In your own words, what is the Oscar controversy about?”
The guy replied: ”It’s about giving blacks a chance to win.”
The man was then asked if he was ”upset” there were no black nominees this year and he said: ”I mean, I wasn’t surprised but it kind of bothered me a little bit.”
Most moviegoers hadn’t seen this year’s Best Picture nominees, with one woman even convinced Chris had made up the titles.
She laughed: ”Where are you getting these movies from? You’re messing with me, right?”
The comedian also asked what everyone’s ”favorite white movie” had been, and was stunned when one woman said Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s By the Sea.
He quipped: ”Not even they would say that!”
Chris made a number of jokes about the diversity row in both his opening monologue and throughout last night’s ceremony.
He said: ”Why all the protests this year? This is the 88th Academy Awards and I’m sure this has happened at least 71 times before. I’m sure there were years in the ’50s and ’60s where black people didn’t get nominated. But we had better things to protest. We were too busy getting raped and lynched to care who was up for best cinematographer. When your grandma is swinging from a tree, It’s kind of hard to worked up about best foreign film.”
He also joked about the people who had urged him to boycott the event and pull out of his hosting role.
He said: ”They said ‘Chris, you should boycott, Chris, you should quit.’ How come it’s only unemployed people that tell you to quit something? No one with a job ever tells you to quit… I thought about quitting. I thought about it real hard. But I realized, they’re going to have the Oscars anyway. They’re not going to cancel the Oscars because I quit. And the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart.”
And Chris also poked fun at the likes of Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, who had chosen to boycott the event over the lack of diversity.
Leaving the audience roaring with laughter, he joked: ”Jada got mad, she said she’s not coming. Doesn’t she have a TV show? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties – I wasn’t invited! You get mad that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated [for his role in ‘Concussion’]. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20m to do ‘Wild Wild West.”’