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Emotions were running high during Chris Rock’s first stand-up shows since he was slapped by Will Smith during Sunday's 94th annual Academy Awards. On Wednesday, the 57-year-old comedian took the stage at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts, for two shows to kick off of his Ego Death Live tour, and quickly addressed the shocking incident at the Oscars.
"I have a whole show… that I wrote before the weekend, so, if you came here for that, I'm still processing it," the comedian said during his first show. "I will talk about it, and it will be serious, and it will be funny, but not tonight."
ET learned that Chris arrived via private plane to Boston on Tuesday afternoon and checked into the Ritz Carlton before heading to his dress rehearsal at the venue.
A source told ET that Chris has been "pensive" and the events from Sunday have been on his mind, but he didn't want them to distract from his performance. "His focus is on his show right now," the source said.
The source also told ET that ahead of taking the stage, Chris worked out at his hotel gym and made his way to the venue around 4 p.m. to prepare for the sold-out shows. The source added that Chris was relaxed and upbeat and looking forward to performing, but knew he had to address the incident at the Oscars.
At the first show at 7 p.m., an eyewitness tells ET that Chris entered the stage to uproarious applause, with the audience giving him an enthusiastic standing ovation for about three minutes. The eyewitness says fans were whistling and cheering and yelling out that they love him. And just as the crowd looked as if they were about to settle down and let Chris begin, they rose to their feet again.
Chris, sporting an all-white outfit and a couple of silver bracelets, was visibly overwhelmed with emotion and touched by the very warm response. He even noted that he was getting “misty.”
"The reception he received onstage was very emotional for Chris," the source tells ET.
From there, Chris jokingly asked how everyone's weekend was and explained that he wrote his jokes before the shocking event that took place at the Oscars.
After he quickly addressed the incident, he went into his stand-up routine. ET's eyewitness says he commanded the stage and had the audience in stitches with non-stop laughter.
While he did make a couple subtle comments about Sunday’s incident, he never referred specifically to Will or his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. At one point in the show, he said, "I have a great life. Well, other than some weird sh** going on."
ET's eyewitness says there was an incident at the first show, where two unruly audience members were escorted out by security. The show resumed, but police were called out and the men were arrested for assaulting an officer, according to ET's source. After the men were escorted out, Chris told the audience, "Is this how the tour is going to be?"
The source tells ET that Chris' personal security was on high alert and ready to pull him off stage if needed, but it didn't get to that point. "Chris was not rattled by that incident," ET's source says.
Chris ended his show with another standing ovation and ET's source says he was "upbeat and was in great spirits" after that first performance.
As for Chris' 10 p.m. show, ET's eyewitness says it was much like the first one but with a few minor tweaks.
"I don't have a bunch a sh** about what happened, so if you came to see that, I have a whole show that I wrote before this weekend and I'm still kind of processing what happened," he said during his second set. "At some point, I'll talk about that sh** and it'll be serious and funny, but I'm going to tell some jokes. I'm going to talk about-- it's nice to just be out!"
After the shows, he was escorted out of the venue with security and went back to his hotel to sleep. It was a quiet first night for him, but ET's source says, "Chris was in really great spirits and happy to be back onstage!"
As for how Chris is coping after being slapped at the Oscars, a source tells ET that while he's used to fame, he has never experienced this level of attention.
"It's not uncommon to see Chris walking around the streets of New York City and showing up in small comedy clubs to workshop new material. He's never been someone who's hounded by paparazzi," the source says. "This level of attention is very new to Chris. There was a mob of photographers chasing him from the hotel to the theater and swarming him as he entered. There were even choppers following him."
Needless to say, Chris has beefed up security and is really taking this time to wrap his head around everything that's transpired, the source says.
"It's been an emotional week for Chris," the source adds.
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