Direct yet humorous was the name of the game for Chris Rock in his opening monologue as host of the 88th Academy Awards. This year's Oscars have been surrounded by a very public cloud of controversy after stars spoke out about the all-white nominees up for awards and trended the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.
Scroll down for Chris's complete monologue...
Stepping out on stage in a white tuxedo jacket and black pants following a montage of clips from this year's nominated movies, the 51-year-old tackled the issue head on, joking: "I counted at least 15 black people on that montage."
Calling it the "wildest" and "craziest" Oscars to host, Chris explained why he decided to keep the gig despite the backlash and the number of people who encouraged him to step down. "How come it's only unemployed people who tell you to quit something, huh?" he asked. "No one with a job ever tells you to quit. So I thought about quitting, I thought about it real hard, but I thought 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 to do is lose another job to Kevin Hart."
After joking about Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep, how quickly Kevin Hart makes movies, the need for separate black categories at the Oscars and how boycotting something you weren't invited to isn't really boycotting, Chris wrapped up with commentary on the #AskHerMore initiative. "Another big thing tonight is that you're not allowed to ask women what they're wearing any more. It's that whole thing – Ask Her More... You know if George Clooney showed up with a lime green tux on and a swan coming out his ass somebody would go, 'What you wearing George?'"
See the entire speech below!
"Man I counted at least 15 black people on that montage. Well I'm here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the white People's Choice Awards. You realise, if they nominated hosts I wouldn't even get this job. You'd be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now. This is the wildest, craziest Oscars to ever host because there's all this controversy that no black nominees, and people are like, 'Chris you should boycott, Chris you should quit.'
"How come it's only unemployed people who tell you to quit something, huh? No one with a job ever tells you to quit. So I thought about quitting, I thought about it real hard, but I thought 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 to do is lose another job to Kevin Hart.
"I don't need that. Kevin, Kevin right there. He makes movies fast. Every month. Porno stars don't make movies that fast. The big question - why this Oscars? It's the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no black nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times. You gotta figure that it happened in the fifties, in the sixties. You gotta know in the sixties one year that Sydney didn't put out no movies, I'm sure there was no black nominees those years, say '52, '53, and black people didn't protest. You know why? Because we had real things to protest at the time. They're too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won Best Cinematographer. You know, when your grandmother's swinging from the tree, it's really hard to care about Best Documentary Foreign Short.
"But what happened this year? People went mad, Spike got mad, Jada went mad and Will went mad. Everyone went mad. It's quite like – Jada gets mad, says she's not coming. Jada, is she on a TV show? Jada's going to boycott the Oscars. Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties. I wasn't invited! Although that's not an invitation I would turn down. You've gotta understand I'm not hating, I understand you're mad. Jada's mad, Will was not nominated for Concussion, I get it, I get it. You get mad that it's not fair that Will was this good and he was not nominated. It's also not fair that Will was paid $20m for Wild Wild West, okay?
"This year the Oscars are going to be a little different. This thing is going to be a little different. This year in the In Memoriam package it's just going to be black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies.
"Yes, I said it. Hey, if you want black nominees every year you need to just have black categories. That's what you need. You need to have black categories. You already do it with men and women, think about it. There's no real reason for there to be a separate man and woman category in acting. Come on, there's no reason! It's not track and field, you don't have to separate them. You know Robert De Niro's never said, 'You know, I need to slow this acting down so Meryl Streep can catch up.' No, not at all man. If you want black people every year at the Oscars, just have black categories, like Best Black Friend. That's right. And the winner for the 18th year in a row is Wanda Sykes. This is Wanda's 18th black Oscar.
"Here's the real question, everyone wants to know in the world is Hollywood racist? You know, you gotta go at that the right way. Is it burning cross racist? No….It's a different type of racist. Now I remember one night I was at a fundraising event for President Obama, a lot of you were there. You know it's me and all of Hollywood. There's all of us there, I think there was about four black people there. Me, erm, Pudsey Jones, Russell Simmons… you know, the usual suspects, you know, and every black actor that wasn't working. Needless to say, Kevin Hart was not there.
"So at some point you get to take a picture with the President, and as they're setting up the picture you get a little moment with the President. So I say, 'Mr President, all these writers and producers and actors, they don't hire black people and they're the nicest white people on Earth. They're liberals. Cheese!'
"That's right. Is Hollywood racist? It's not the racism that you've grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It's like, 'We like you Rhonda, but you're not a Kappa'. That's how Hollywood is, but things are changing. We've got a black Rocky this year. Some people call it Creed, I call it black Rocky. That's an unbelievable statement, I mean Rocky takes place in a world where white athletes are as good as black athletes. So Rocky's a science fiction movie. There are things that happened in Star Wars that are more believable than things that happened in Rocky.
"But hey, we're here to honour actors. We're here to honour film. There's a lot of snubs. One of the biggest snubs that no one's talking about, one of my favourite actors in the world is Paul Giamatti I believe is the greatest actor in the world. Think about what Paul Giamatti has done the last couple of years, last year he's in Twelve Years A Slave, hates black people. This year he's in Straight Outta Compton, loves black people! Last year he's whipping Lupita, this year he's crying at Eazy-E's funeral! Now that's range. Ben Affleck can't do that.
"What I'm trying to say is, it's not about boycotting anything, it's just we want opportunities. We want black actors to get the same opportunities and that's it. Not just once, you know. Leo gets great parts every year. What about the black actors? What about Jamie Foxx? Jamie Foxx is one of the best actors of all out there. Jamie Foxx was so good in Ray that they went to the hospital and unplugged the real Ray Charles, like 'We don't need two of these!'
"Another big thing tonight is that you're not allowed to ask women what they're wearing any more. It's that whole thing - Ask Her More. You have to ask her more. It's like, 'you ask the men more.' Hey, everything is not sexism, it's not racism. They ask the men more because the men are all wearing the same outfit. The men are all wearing the exact same outfit. You know if George Clooney showed up with a lime green tux on and a swan coming out his ass somebody would go, 'What you wearing George?'
"Hey, welcome to the 88th Oscars Academy Awards!"