Chelsea Handler Says Chris Rock 'Handled Himself with Such Aplomb' After Will Smith Slap

"He was a professional — and that was a great example for all performers," Chelsea Handler tells PEOPLE of Chris Rock's behavior after Will Smith hit him

Chelsea Handler is standing by Chris Rock.

One week after Will Smith slapped Rock, 57, at the 94th Academy Awards, Handler, 47, spoke to PEOPLE's Jeremy Parsons and Janine Rubenstein at the Grammy Awards in Las Vegas, saying she thinks her fellow comedian "handled himself with such aplomb" after the incident.

"He was a professional — and that was a great example for all performers, all comedians, to not be reactive in the moment," she said. "It wasn't necessary to be reactive. I think the reaction is heard now and it's appropriate, and people have really felt for him."

Handler added in the interview Sunday, "I feel for him. He's an incredible guy. I love the way he handled it, and I respect him even more."

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"I can't wait for his take on it. It's going to be serious and funny at the same time," Handler's boyfriend Jo Koy added of Rock. "He's the king, and he showed everyone why he's the king. It was beautiful what he did."

Tune in to PEOPLE & Entertainment Weekly Red Carpet Live: 64th Annual Grammy Awards, hosted by People (The TV Show!) senior correspondent Jeremy Parsons and PEOPLE Every Day host Janine Rubenstein, beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, April 3. The live event will stream on,, PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly's YouTube channels, PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly's Twitter pages, as well as PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly's Facebook pages.

Will Smith Chelsea Handler Chris Rock
From left: Will Smith, Chelsea Handler, Chris Rock. David Livingston/Getty; Francis Specker/CBS/Getty; Al Seib /A.M.P.A.S./Getty

During the 2022 Oscars at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre last Sunday, Rock was struck in the face by King Richard star Smith, 53, while presenting the Best Documentary Feature award after he seized the moment to crack a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head.

He compared the 50-year-old actress' appearance to 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, Smith walked onstage and approached Rock, slapping him in front of the audience and millions of people watching the telecast at home.

Check out PEOPLE's full Grammy Awards coverage to get the latest news on music's biggest night.

In the aftermath of the 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 kicked off in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Saturday, and runs through Nov. 18, concluding at the Dolby Theatre.

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

RELATED VIDEO: Chris Rock Says "I Haven't Talked to Anyone Despite What You Heard" at Comedy Show Following Oscars

An industry source told PEOPLE on Saturday that Rock — who has, thus far, declined to press charges against Smith — "handled" the incident "well," adding, "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."

"You hire Chris to get people's reactions, which are immediate and usually invite hysterical laughing," the source continued. "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."

After Rock took the stage on Thursday, an audience member yelled out, "F--- Will Smith!" Rock, who did not engage with "Will Smith" chants the night before, responded this time around by immediately shutting it down: "No, no, no, no, no ... "

The 64th Annual Grammy Awards, hosted by Trevor Noah, are airing and streaming live from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 3, at 8 p.m. ET.

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