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Questlove missed Will Smith’s Chris Rock slap because he was meditating

By | Published on Wednesday 30 March 2022

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock

Everyone has an opinion on Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars. Everyone. Every single person. Even your mum. Well, everyone except Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson that is, despite him accepting an award just after the headline grabbing incident at Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony took place. He missed the whole thing because he was meditating at the time.

Just in case you also happened to have your eyes closed on Sunday night and Monday morning (and have kept them closed for the rest of the week), Smith got up on stage and slapped Rock after he made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.

Rock was actually on stage to present the award for Best Documentary, which went to Questlove’s film about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, ‘Summer Of Soul (…Or The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)’. Given the timing, you’d think this would be the moment of the proceedings to which Questlove would be paying closest attention, but no.

“I really wasn’t aware of that”, he told Jimmy Fallon on ‘The Tonight Show’. “It’s really weird to say because… they tell you ahead of time, this is your category, and so, in that moment, you’re either going to be full of anxiety or, for me, I’ve been meditating for the past two years – I do [transcendental meditation]”.

“When the commercial break happened, I was in my ‘Mmmm mmm’”, he added. “So when I opened my eyes, I didn’t realise. [I just thought] ‘Why is everyone so quiet?’ I literally was not present for that whole entire moment”.

“As I’m walking to the stage, I’m kind of putting two and two together, and I realise that was a real moment like maybe three seconds before I spoke words”, he continued. “But in my mind, they were just doing a sketch or whatever, and I’m just like, ‘OK Ahmir, remember to thank your mom, your dad’. So I was not present at all. I was just in a blank space”.

So, maybe that’s a little tip for Will Smith on how to get through future awards ceremonies. And, indeed, for all of us.