The attorney general for Cook County may have dropped all charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, but that doesn’t mean he’s off the hook – at least not in the court of comedy. According to reports in The Hollywood Reporter, both Chris Rock and Saturday Night Live had a go at the actor for his role in the alleged plot to stage a physical assault that was purportedly based in homophobia and racism.
The sketch featured SNL regular Chris Redd reprising the role of Smollett, trying to explain to the executives in charge of his former show Empire – which cut the real-life Smollett from the final two episodes of the season after the scandal broke – why he’s late for a meeting with them. An increasingly exasperated Sandra Oh plays his manager and desperately tries to get Redd’s Smollett to stop talking already.
“Guys, you’re not going to believe what just happened to me,” Redd says as Smollett. “I know what you’re thinking but it’s not that. I got attacked again.”
“That’s exactly what we were thinking, Jussie,” respond the executives.
The Smollett character goes on to refer to himself not only as “the gay Tupac,” a reference to a claim the real Smollett actually made during a West Hollywood concert in February, but also claimed to have successfully fought off his attackers because he is “the gay Mike Tyson.”
“Nobody knows what that means,” replies Oh as the frustrated manager. “You know why this is hard to believe, right?”
The Smollett character then pulls out a bag of “clues” the attackers supposedly left him, including Crest white strips, the letters “KKK,” and a Teletubby doll.
“And it’s the gay one,” the Smollett character says.
Meanwhile, at the 50th NAACP Image Awards, comedian and actor Chris Rock also took a poke at Smollett. After joking that the producers of the show told him that he wasn’t allowed to talk about the Smollett controversy, Rock let it rip.
“What the hell was he thinking?” Rock said. “From now on, you’re Jessie. You don’t even get the ‘U’ no more. That ‘U’ was respect.”
“You don’t get no respect from me.”
Rock then went on to riff about Smollett’s skin tone, saying “what a waste of light skin,” and joking that if his own skin were as light as Smollett’s, Rock would be ‘f**king running Hollywood.”
Rock wasn’t the only one to reference the Smollett saga, with Black-ish actor Yara Shahidi offering him a simple message of support as she accepted an award for Outstanding Comedy Series.
“I stand with Jussie,” she said.
While prosecutors have dropped all 16 charges against Smollett, those same prosecutors, police officials, and even Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have all publicly said they still believe he is guilty. Emanuel’s office has said it will bill Smollett $130,000 for the costs of the investigation.