Chris Rock pokes at Jussie Smollett at NAACP Image Awards

"They said no Jussie Smollett jokes," Rock told the audience at the ceremony honoring works by people of color.

Chris Rock presents the award for outstanding comedy series at the 50th annual NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Chris Rock presents the award for outstanding comedy series at the 50th annual NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. –Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

What happens when you tell a comedian a certain topic is off limits? Well, this: a takedown by Chris Rock while introducing winners at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday night.

“They said no Jussie Smollett jokes,” Rock told the audience at the ceremony honoring works by people of color. “Yeah, I know, but what a waste of light skin. Do you know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair? My career would be out of here. I would be running Hollywood.”

But the always-edgy comic wasn’t done with the “Empire” actor, who had felony charges against him for allegedly filing a false police report dropped in a case in which he claimed to have been attacked by men shouting racial epithets. “What the hell was he thinking?” Rock asked. “You are known as ‘Jessie’ from now on. You don’t even get the ‘u’ anymore. The ‘u’ was for respect. You ain’t getting no respect from me.”

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Not everyone at the glittery event was on board with Rock’s view. “I stand with Jussie,” Yara Shahidi, who stars in ABC’s “Black-ish,” said while accepting the award for outstanding comedy series.

A far less divisive figure was Rep. Maxine Waters, who got a first-row seat, shout-outs from the stage and the NAACP Chairman’s Award. In her acceptance speech, the California Democrat known as “Auntie Maxine” said she wants President Donald Trump impeached – and indicated that she has no problem reclaiming her time now that Democrats are in the majority in the House and she chairs the Financial Services committee. “I got the gavel, and I’m not afraid to use it,” she said.

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