The Oscars' opening montage ended, Chris Rock took the stage and it took less than seven seconds for him to bring up the show's diversity problem.
"Man, I count at least 15 black people on that montage," Rock said.
Rock was clearly psyched to live up to the high expectations set for his performance at the "White People's Choice Awards," as he put it. When the nominations were announced on Jan. 14, and every nominee in the acting categories was white for the second year in a row, many loud voices demanded that Rock boycott the event.
"I thought about quitting. I thought about it real hard," he said in his monologue. But when he realized they would have the Oscars without him anyway, he decided, "The last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart." INFOGRAPHICS: 10 stars who have never won an Oscar READ: #OscarsSoWhite: Will Smith joins Oscar 2016 boycott
It's a tough task to enlighten viewers about an important issue without lecturing them or causing them to change the channel. Rock handled it by alternating between lighthearted jokes that poked fun at audience members like Hart, and funny but brutal comments meant to make the audience squirm.
Why didn't black people protest about the lack of Oscars diversity that also existed long ago? "Because we had real things to protest at the time," Rock said. "We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematography. When your grandmother is swinging from a tree it's really hard to care about best documentary foreign short."
The 10-minute monologue was almost completely about the racism he and actors of colors face in Hollywood. He made no mention of the changes the Academy promised in January, including an "ambitious, global campaign" to recruit voting members "who represent greater diversity."
Instead, he broadened the issue to race in America as a whole, taking a short pause before the hardest-hitting joke of the night: the annual "in memoriam" section, which typically honors actors who have died in the last year, "is just going to be black people shot by the cops on the way to the movies."
The audience was filled with nodding heads from actors of every race -- far different than the reaction Rock received when he made similar jokes in 2005, when he became the first black man to host the Oscars solo. Even Morgan Freeman raised his eyebrows when Rock opened with, "It's a great night. We have, like, four black nominees tonight. It's kind of like the Def Oscar Jam tonight!" And he kept bringing up the Oscars' diversity problem all night long.
On Twitter, where the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag has bolstered the diversity conversation for months, Rock's jokes seemed to be hitting the right notes:
"That's right. We love it! @ChrisRock is keeping it 100 right now. #OscarsSoWhite"
"This #ChrisRock monologue is more effective than boycotting the #OscarsSoWhite"