The comedian and 'SNL' alum says she wanted to run to her longtime pal's defense while watching the 2022 Oscars debacle
If you ask Leslie Jones, friends don't let friends get smacked at awards shows.
"It made me so infuriated," Jones, 56, tells PEOPLE of watching from home as her close friend Chris Rock, 58, was slapped by Will Smith during the 2022 Oscars ceremony. "You don't know that I was going to jump in my car and roll up there. I was so f---ing mad on so many levels."
In the star's new memoir, Leslie F*cking Jones, out Sept. 19, she details first meeting Rock in the mid-90s and how over the years, as she struggled to find her footing on the standup comedy circuit, they forged a strong bond.
"He's like my brother," says Jones of the star, who threw her name in the ring for Saturday Night Live back in 2013 and convinced her to audition. "I was like 'Why, those aren't real comics'," she recalls of questioning SNL. "He was like, 'Shut up. You sound like an idiot.'"
Rock penned the foreword to her new book. Says Jones, "He's just always there to give me the perfect advice when I need it."
But in March of 2022, she recalls wanting to be there for him in his time of need. "For a long a-- time I was just mad," she says of the shocking slap. "Chris Rock did a f---ing joke." She adds, "I know Will, too... I was like, you couldn't handle that s--t afterwards. This is the Oscars. The whole world is watching."
Speaking to Rock about the incident "I was like, 'Chris, when he got up why didn't you run?'," she says. "'I would've been running around that stage like "Will, calm down. Jada, call your man!'"
When it came to the aftermath of that moment, she wishes that had played out differently as well. "He could have still fixed it," says Jones of Smith, who returned to the stage shortly after for his Best Actor acceptance speech. If she'd had her way the star would have said "'I shouldn't have did that. Bring Chris out. I can not accept the Oscar right now because that was f---ing wrong.'"
As Rock's close friend, Jones says the ordeal took a toll on him that few are aware of. "That s--t was humiliating. It really affected him," she says. "People need to understand his daughters, his parents, saw that. He had to go to counseling with his daughters."
One positive aspect she says came out of it all: Rock took his pain back to the stage. "Everybody got pissed off about him doing a special. That's what comedians do," she says of his Selective Outrage standup special that debuted on Netflix this past March. "Instead of us going crazy we f---ing go talk about it on the f---ing stage. Thank God we've got the stage."
For more on Jones's raw new memoir and fascinating journey to fame, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, out Friday.
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