Chris Rock Might Be Used to Setting People Off, But He Probably 'Never Expected to Get Slapped,' Says Insider

"You hire Chris to get people's reactions, which are immediate and usually invite hysterical laughing," an industry insider tells PEOPLE after Will Smith's infamous 2022 Oscars slap

Chris Rock
Chris Rock. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

While Chris Rock may be used to pushing boundaries as a comedian, getting slapped by Will Smith at the 2022 Oscars put him in an unprecedented situation.

"He actually handled it well," an industry source tells PEOPLE. "He is used to people getting bent out of shape at his no holds barred humor ... but I'm sure he never expected to get slapped."

The insider notes that Sunday's altercation isn't the first time Rock has gone "too far," while adding that his previous acts had "done nothing but help his career."

"You hire Chris to get people's reactions, which are immediate and usually invite hysterical laughing," the source continues. "The incident has so many layers of intrigue and outrage that it should keep him on everyone's mind for a long time. It should boost his comedy appearances."

Chris Rock performs
Chris Rock. Michael Loccisano/Getty

During the 94th Academy Awards at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre last Sunday, Rock, 57, was struck in the face by King Richard star Smith while presenting the best documentary feature award after he seized the moment to crack a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head.

For more on the Will Smith-Chris Rock incident at the Oscars, listen below to our daily podcast on PEOPLE Every Day.

He compared the 50-year-old actress' appearance to that of Demi Moore's look in G.I. Jane. Jada, who has opened up about living with alopecia, was visibly unamused, rolling her eyes from her seat. Seconds later, Will, 53, walked onstage and approached Rock, slapping him in front of the audience and millions of people watching the telecast at home.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"Some people think he goes too far … Chris is a big success, but he can go over the line and upset people," the insider adds.

"Generally, it hasn't hurt his career, but there have been times when he goes beyond just setting people off," the source claims. "It is expected, and that is who he is."

In the aftermath of Sunday's Oscars, Rock spent the last week in Boston performing six sold-out shows at The Wilbur ahead of his Ego Death World Tour. The 38-date North American leg officially kicks off in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Saturday and runs through Nov. 18, concluding at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Smith has since issued a public apology to Rock following the ordeal, saying, "I was out of line and I was wrong."

"I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be," he wrote in a statement on his Instagram Story earlier this week. "There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."

The best actor winner subsequently resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday, claiming his actions were "shocking, painful, and inexcusable."

"I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film," Smith added.

The Academy has accepted his resignation, but will continue with its potential disciplinary proceedings.

Related Articles