Grammys 2022: Trevor Noah jokes about Will Smith’s slap

Grammys host Trevor Noah kicked kicked off Sunday’s show with plenty of lighthearted quips about music’s biggest stars — and an allusion to Will Smith’s infamous Oscars outburst.

After an electric performance from Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars of Silk Sonic at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena, the comedian delivered an opening monologue peppered with material name-checking everyone from Olivia Rodrigo to BTS.

“This is a party,” Noah said while meandering through the audience. “Everyone’s hanging out. … We’re in Vegas. … People are doing shots. I mean, last year people were doing shots, but it was more Moderna and Pfizer. This time we’re back in the mix.”

Then came the indirect reference to last week’s Academy Awards, during which Smith slapped Chris Rock in the face and twice yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out your f— mouth!”

“We’re going to be listening to some music, we’re going to be dancing, we’re going to be singing, we’re going to be keeping people’s names out of our mouths and we’re going to be giving out awards all throughout the night,” Noah joked.

“So let’s get straight into it.”

The “Daily Show” host’s dig comes days after Smith resigned from the film academy and repeatedly apologized for striking Rock in response to a joke the comic made about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair. At the Oscars ceremony, Smith also won an award for his lead performance in “King Richard.”

“I betrayed the trust of the Academy,” Smith wrote in his resignation letter. “I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.”

Leading up to the 2022 Grammy Awards, jazz musician Jon Batiste scored the most nominations with 11 — including nods for record of the year, R&B album and album of the year. Other artists vying for the top prize are Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, HER, Lil Nas X, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift and Kanye West.

“Every single person you can imagine is here,” Noah said at the top of the show. “I Saw Olivia Rodrigo myself”. She was getting carded, and she had to show a bouncer on her actual driver’s license. It was, like, history people!

“Oh, and you know what else I saw? I saw Nas standing next to Lil Nas X. Plot twist: Lil Nas is actually taller. They don’t tell you this.”

All of the album of the year nominees — except West, Doja Cat, Swift and Bennett — are set to perform during the Grammys telecast on CBS. The performance roster also includes BTS, Silk Sonic, J Balvin and John Legend.

Times intern Kai Grady contributed to this report.

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