Chris Rock

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Joined: 22 Jun 2006

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 3:35 pm    Post subject: Chris Rock Reply with quote

Chris Rock sells out
His first UK dates

Chris Rock has added extra UK dates after selling out three of his four gig within hours. Tickets for January’s shows - the first time he will play in Britain - went on sale at 10am today, and within two hours the 2,700-seater Manchester Apollo gig had sold out. And by the afternoon, he had also sold out two shows at the 3,600-seater Hammersmith Apollo. Two extra dates have now been announced in London on January 11 and 13.

Rock has won countless awards for his stand-up, and the sitcom about his youth, Everybody Hates Chris, is currently being shown on Five. He has never performed his own show in Britain, although earlier in the year he made an unannounced visit to London’s Comedy Store to try out new material.


Can't wait for this - just got my tickets Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hard at Work on New Year’s Eve
Sean McCabe
December 28, 2007

WHEN Chris Rock walks out in front of some 20,000 people on Monday night at Madison Square Garden to celebrate both New Year’s Eve and the kickoff of his six-month international “No Apologies” tour, no one will be surprised when he gets his first laugh. He is, after all, Chris Rock, and if he is not the funniest man alive, then the other guy is doing a good job of hiding.

Because he has been on the top of the comic heap so long, it is easy to assume that Mr. Rock can make that whole big room shake with the same convulsive laughter because he was born that way. Like Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton or Tom Brady, he seems genetically predisposed to do precisely what he does. Small, fierce, a human chain saw that can knock down almost anything, he sees convention and shreds it.

But for Mr. Rock, as it is for those other guys, being gifted is really just about doing the things that make it look easy. The least surprised person when that first laugh starts and then moves in a wave all the way up to the cheap seats will be Mr. Rock. For many months he has been piecing together his act in clubs in New Jersey, New York, Florida and Las Vegas. Comedy bit by comedy bit, he has built two hours of material one minute at a time, culling the belly laughs from the bombs.

And he knows it will work. Other people would admit to a deep breath or a big gulp before taking on the toughest crowd in the biggest room in their hometown — he grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant — but Mr. Rock does not roll like that. “You got to realize, I’ve been working on my act probably since around April, March,” he said, sitting in an office he keeps on the Upper West Side. “I am ready.” Maybe people — even New Yorkers — are inclined to laugh at a guy who has one of the few truly funny shows on TV, “Everybody Hates Chris”; who directed and is the co-writer of “I Think I Love My Wife,” a funny-enough feature film that came out this year; and who did some voice work as a mosquito in “Bee Movie” for his pal Jerry Seinfeld.

Mr. Rock may be at the height of his powers, but his rise was more meat and taters than meteoric. After years of grinding out stand-up for nothing, followed by an indifferent run as a regular on “Saturday Night Live” from 1990 to 1993 and a regular guest spot on “In Living Color,” he came out in 1996 with “Bring the Pain” on HBO, tearing it up like nothing else in the genre of televised comedy specials and rendering himself nearly ubiquitous.

“There are advantages to being exploited by a large multimedia company,” he said, grabbing the brim of a beige muffin hat he kept on during the interview. Mr. Rock does not believe all that success comes with him when he takes the stage. For him the 18 warm-up shows he did at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick, N.J., preparing for the tour are a lot more important than his three Emmys. “He knows that they are going to give him that first laugh because of who he is,” said Vinnie Brand, the owner of the Stress Factory. “But he came out here and worked his material, over and over, cutting and trimming, until by the last show you could not believe what he had put together. He still has that hunger to be a great stand-up comedian, no matter what his name is.” Or as Mr. Rock put it: “Maybe for about three minutes after I walk onstage, they’re into my résumé. But after that it’s like, ‘What’s he got?,’ especially in a town like this where you see famous people walking down the street.”

He is not a physical comedian. He prefers to use his voice and ferocious eye contact to master a room. He often steps to the edge of the stage as pure id, giving voice to things that we secretly think about, say, Michael Jackson, and saying them aloud. Mr. Rock mentions, for example, that when Mr. Jackson came to court: “He didn’t even wear a real suit. Came in there looking like Cap’n Crunch. So who’s your lawyer, Frankenberry?” His acute social observation is matched by a willingness just to say it: “Every town has the same two malls: the one white people go to and the one white people used to go to.” Paula Abdul on “American Idol”? “That’s like having Christopher Reeve judging a dance contest.” His own exalted status? “Yeah, I love being famous. It’s almost like being white, you know?”

Mr. Rock’s office is a working space, not some kind of ego gymnasium. The biggest picture in the room is not a grip-and-grin of himself but a portrait of Woody Allen. He recently returned from a long trip to India for his next movie, which he is producing and starring in: “Good Hair,” a docu-comedy about the culture of black hair shows and salons. (India is where all those weaves come together.) During a meeting with a reporter at a time — 9:30 a.m. — when a lot of people in his business are not quite finished recovering from the night before, he was all business.

Mr. Rock is not unfriendly, but he saves his comic persona for the stage and treats an interview as exactly what it is. He is thoughtful, careful and not intent on finding the funny in everything, with the blazing smile that is something of a trademark tucked away for a time when there is something to laugh about. Anybody who has done stand-up, it was suggested to him, will tell you it is a fight that requires a bit of the warrior mentality. “I think warrior is overstating it a bit in this time of war,” he quickly responded.

By this point in his career Mr. Rock, 42, has done thousands of interviews and is not content to accept the nomenclature that is handed to him. He complains about nothing and is nobody’s victim. The responsibility, as he sees it, is all his, here and on the stage. The audience is there for the winning, but it takes work.

“When you get up there that first time and you don’t do well, you’re basically hearing ‘No’,” he said, looking out the window of an office from which you can see all the way to Harlem. “How are you going to approach this ‘no’? Are you going to respect it and put the blame on yourself and improve who you are, or are you going to blame the audience like an idiot? It’s never their fault,” he said. “No matter how late it is, no matter how much they did or didn’t drink, no matter what the sound system is like, no matter how hot the building is or how cold the building is, it ain’t the crowd’s fault. You want to get up there, you want to be a good boy, you want to headline, that’s what you have to go in there with.”

Mr. Rock watched Eddie Murphy take over the Garden many years ago, and he has not forgotten. “There were moments you could hear a pin drop, and that’s really what it’s all about,” he said. “Anybody can just say stuff and get people to scream. If you’re really good, you can get them to be quiet. Quiet is true ownership of the room.”

Given what has been going on most nights recently in the Garden — Mr. Rock’s beloved Knicks have been stinking it up — maybe he wants to burn some sage and perform an exorcism before he goes on so it doesn’t get quiet and stay that way? “The Rangers have been playing pretty well lately,” he shot back, before leaping into a soliloquy about Isiah Thomas’s history of winning, albeit all before he took over the Knicks. I’m going to try my best to give a great show at the Garden, but at the same time, in 90 days I hope to be a lot better,” he said. “Things really can change over time.”

No kidding. Mr. Rock used to have a hilarious bit about a black man running for president, and he wrote, directed and starred in a film, “Head of State,” that found plenty of fodder in the scenario. Now Barack Obama is running statistically even or better with Hillary Rodham Clinton in Iowa and beyond. “You can’t say he’s not a sign,” Mr. Rock said. He once covered the Iowa caucuses for Comedy Central but has resisted the urge to bend his tour around a few Iowa dates this time around. “I believe in real wins, I don’t believe in symbolic,” he said. “But it’s neck and neck against a woman whose husband was the president, and he’s a black man that no one knew a couple years ago. That is an unbelievable achievement.” “I love Hillary Clinton,” he continued, “but to me she is the Democratic version of George Bush: someone who is running, and the only reason you know who this person is is because of their name.”

Mr. Rock, who has made a career out of speaking the unspeakable, decided to go there and then some. “She has much more in common with George Bush Jr. than she does with Oprah Winfrey,” he said. “Not that there is anything wrong with having a name. My kids are going to have my name, but their path is going to be easier. That’s just what it is.”

This interview took place just before Christmas, and the family named Rock was about to grow. He and his wife, Malaak Compton, have two daughters, Lola, 5, and Zahra, 3, who wanted new pals. “They sent Santa some letters, and they both wanted turtles,” Mr. Rock said. “They really wanted a tortoise, but tortoises grow. But hey, my babies wants the turtles, my babies gets turtles.” And while it may be Santa’s job to bring the turtles, it’s Mr. Rock’s job to make sure they have something to eat. Although he’s made a couple of bucks here and there, he thinks hitting the road for six months is a proper and appropriate thing for a working stand-up to do.

“It’s a great life,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it with anybody. Except maybe Will Smith.”
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rock Is Back. Give Him a Cookie.
January 2, 2008

“That’s right, New Year’s Eve,” Chris Rock said. “I’m a little nervous. I haven’t done this in a while.” These were just about the first words he spoke all night, and this was definitely the last time he sounded hesitant.

Monday’s show was among the early dates on his new tour, and it was a big one: His job was to entertain a sold-out crowd in Madison Square Garden during the last hours of 2007. He had booked an impressive opening act, the soul singer Jill Scott, whose set nodded at hip-hop, jazz and opera, none of it a stretch for her. And before he took the stage, big screens displayed work by two mischievous African-American painters, Michael Ray Charles and Kehinde Wiley. All of this helped set a mellow, grown-up mood, especially since the arena was full of nattily (or at least neatly) dressed couples sipping Champagne from plastic flutes.

So what? People hadn’t just come to laugh. They had come to laugh harder than they had ever laughed in their lives. They had come to laugh until their eyes and bladders welled up, laugh until they were struggling to breathe, laugh until they were dry-heaving, then laugh some more. Mr. Rock + New Year’s Eve = beyond-high expectations.

But meeting his fans’ expectations doesn’t seem to be Mr. Rock’s first priority these days. And who can blame him? Over the past decade he has established himself as arguably America’s most beloved — and most quotable — stand-up comedian. His high, braying voice has come to seem like a cultural institution. And his corrosive, minimalist approach — no props, no physical comedy, no long stories, no impersonations — has turned seemingly innocuous phrases (“Want a cookie?”) into catchphrases.

Along the way, though, Mr. Rock has also developed a tricky reputation: He is an African-American comedian beloved by white people (among others), and sometimes it seems as if his routines give white people permission to laugh at black culture. In an episode of the NBC sitcom “The Office,” Steve Carell, playing the ultra-insensitive boss Michael Scott, gets into trouble after regaling his employees with a rendition of Mr. Rock’s routine about the “two types of black people.” Looking plaintively at the camera, he asks, “How come Chris Rock can do a routine, and everybody finds it hilarious and groundbreaking, and then I go and do the exact same routine, same comedic timing, and people file a complaint to corporate?”

And so in recent years Mr. Rock has shifted his approach. Where once he held forth conspiratorially, flattering fans by sharing taboo insights with them, now he is more likely to hold forth confrontationally, as a way (perhaps) to acknowledge the Michael Scotts in the crowd. Where once he was mainly descriptive, now he is prescriptive too. Monday’s set included a long bit about when it is permissible for white people to use his favorite racial epithet (there is only one hypothetical occasion, and it involves extreme suffering); advice to women with careers not to complain to their nannies; and an explanation of why no one should have been surprised when Don Imus made his comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team.

Conscious of the weight on his shoulders, Mr. Rock now seems a little less roguish and a little more righteous. Almost out of the blue, he asked, “Do you know how much better Seabiscuit’s life was than my grandfather’s?” And a riff on Regis Philbin built to a climax that was shocking and amusing in equal measure.

He also generally refrained from commenting on the paradoxes of ghetto life, a former favorite topic. As he mentioned, he now lives in Alpine, N.J., and his act was full of observations about marriage, suburban life and shopping at Wal-Mart. Some of his insights seemed a bit shopworn, but he often pumped them up with sudden explosions of anger or profanity; part of the humor is the contrast between the twitchy, irritable guy onstage and the comfortable life he seems to live.

One of his best bits involved a sideways reference to his personal life. While discussing Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, he mocked the notion that she had presidential experience, explaining that marriage doesn’t confer professional expertise. By way of example, he mentioned his own marriage. “I’ve been with my wife for 10 years now,” he said. “If she got onstage right now, y’all wouldn’t laugh at all.”

Mr. Rock is probably still tweaking his material. Occasionally he stumbled over a word or phrase, which mainly served to remind everyone how precise he is. In his jokes there is never a wasted or extraneous word; if ever an extra syllable sneaks in, you notice it. And he found a pleasingly obnoxious way to celebrate 2008. As Rihanna’s “Umbrella” blasted through the speakers, he announced that he had a special guest. Jay-Z? No: the veteran hip-hop prankster Biz Markie, who toddled onstage and did his best to sing along.

If Mr. Rock is facing a dilemma, don’t think he doesn’t know it. During his discussion of Mr. Imus, he laid out some guidelines: White people aren’t allowed to mock black people; rich people aren’t allowed to mock poor people; skinny people aren’t allowed to mock fat people; and so on. The more stuff you have, the less stuff you’re allowed to say. None of this makes life any easier for a brilliant — and hugely successful — comedian. But keep watching. Now that he has formulated these rules, it shouldn’t be long before he finds a way to turn them to his advantage.

Chris Rock’s tour moves to Britain before returning to the United States in February;
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the eve of a world tour, Chris Rock talks to Julian Hall about Barack Obama, kinky hair and the search for the next great black stand-up
07 January 2008

Before my interview with Chris Rock, his PR tells me that "he does a good interview". As it turns out, the time allotted is enough for me to understand the disparity between the comedian on-stage and off. Performing, Rock growls and hollers through material that is sharp, charged and challenging. In conversation, he's measured, unassuming and, sometimes, vague.

"I was hanging out during Live Earth and I went to the Comedy Store, that small club, and got on stage and it was so good. People were going crazy and the jokes were working so I thought, 'OK, let me come back'." That's how Rock, rather modestly, explains his world tour, which will finally end the long wait for British fans for a proper sight of the 42-year-old comic.

In the mid-Eighties, when that small club, the Comedy Store, was solidly part of the comedy establishment, an 18-year-old Rock was spotted at New York's the Comic Strip Live by Eddie Murphy. Rock has eventually taken Murphy's mantle of the US's highest-profile comedian, first paying his dues on Saturday Night Live and surviving a career hiatus.

One of Rock's jokes from his early years was about a woman who accosts him in the street and says that, for $200, she will do anything for him: " Bitch, paint my house," comes the reply. It's practically the Stateside version of a Northern working men's club joke, and while Rock hasn't become any more subtle, his routines have developed in to something that can shock but also provoke thought, as in his "niggas vs black people" routine from his 1996 HBO special set Bring the Pain: "There's like a civil war going on with black people. And there are two sides. There's black people, and there's niggas. And niggas have got to go. Every time black people wanna have a good time, ignorant-ass niggas mess it up... Can't go to a movie the first week it comes out. Why? 'Cause niggas are shooting at the screen. What kind of ignorant shit is that?"

It was a much-vaunted routine, and one that garnered as much criticism as praise, some believing that Rock's proclamations gave ammunition to racists. "I never really felt like I was doing that material to, um... It was a joke I was doing at the time, was it big over [in the UK]? Right, wow... I've got other routines... I hope I'm not a one-joke wonder – never anything more than this joke. It represented a sector in the African-American community. I never really had to explain it that much. I guess I was smart, but I didn't really know that I was being smart, because I told it in front of an all-black audience."

The routine is a reminder that Rock's voice is that of middle-class black America. There's a moralistic tone to his work; for example, on the album Bigger and Blacker (1999), on the subject of single mothers, he says: " You could do it without a man, but that means it's going to be done shit. You can drive a car with your feet if you want to; don't make it a good idea. "

But if Rock is conservative about family matters, he's been equally bullish about race-relations. "It's always going to be bubbling under. It's like a bad relationship. You're always waiting for something to break you up, know what I mean? Anticipating something bad. That's how racial relations are. It could be good – it's good right now – but we're all kind of waiting for the bad."

Rock believes that things have changed, however, even though "a black man still has to work twice as hard to get the better thing that's out there" . He illustrates the change by turning to Brooklyn, where he grew up (and still lives), a childhood celebrated in the acclaimed sitcom Everybody Hates Chris and successfully exported to the UK. "Brooklyn is very gentrified. I always say: 'White people leave a will and white people leave a won't', but now there's black people who inherit houses and stuff and that never happened in my generation – no one's ever inherited anything. When my dad died, I inherited a debt of $300,000 because of the mortgage and the loans he co-signed. For the first time, black people are inheriting wealth – if we do the right thing and hold on to the stuff."

While "walking tall" is important for his community, Rock's routines have naturally dealt with those who have come in under the bar, such as OJ Simpson. However, Simpson's recent arrest and the release of his controversial book If I Did It can't tempt Rock back to an issue where guilt and racial bias pulled in opposite directions: "Nah... I've kind of left it alone... He got arrested again and that was kind of funny, but it seems like I did the best OJ I could possibly do and I moved on from 'The Juice'."

Rock may have put distance between himself and "the Juice", but he will always be associated with the man, especially as the inaugural sketch of The Chris Rock Show – which ran for three seasons until Rock decided to call it a day – began with a sketch where Rock uncovers a video entitled: I Didn't Kill My Wife (But If I Did, Here's How I'd Do It): "I don't wanna say it was luck; stuff like that happens. I don't even know what to make of that, it was my Nostradamus moment."

Beyond the tour, the future for Rock includes a film project called Good Hair, which he describes as "a kind of Michael Moore exposé on black hair, like a Hoop Dreams for hairstylists. Part of it is about competing in the biggest hair show in the world. The other half is me travelling round the word dealing with the products. I just came back from India, where they make the best weaves in the world. I am gonna make it funny, trust me, even though it sounds insane."

The strange premise may not do much to assuage the detractors of Rock's film career so far. He's scored few critical hits or box office smashes; in fact, it could be argued that his most lasting impression on the world of cinema was his lively stewardship of the Oscars a few years ago. It must have been this feeling of "potential on the bench" that was in the back of his mind when he told The New York Times, in advance of his New Year's Eve Madison Square Gardens gig, "It's a great life, I wouldn't trade it with anybody. Except maybe Will Smith."

"I'm trying to choose stuff that I can be proud of," explains Rock. "You want to be an artist about it. You can offer me a lot of money, I'm not saying that you are gonna get me to play a transvestite or anything, but you might get me in a blockbuster that I didn't think was that good, that I wouldn't have done before – I have children now. But I want to have fun and be proud of my work, and I want to know why I did it. I don't want to be in a position where you do a movie so you can buy a Bentley, or a new house, or whatever."

Meanwhile, Rock has come to the UK a few days early to warm up for the tour in a few small clubs: "I'm just sitting down now and going over references, and trying to work out what's gonna work and what's not. The show will be a mixture of some greatest hits and new stuff – I guess some of the Barack stuff."

Like Oprah Winfrey, Rock has publicly endorsed Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential hopeful; he introduced him to an audience at the Apollo in Harlem as the next US President. When it comes to anointing fellow comics, however, Rock has been less forthcoming. In an interview in 2000, he said: " Nobody's good. I hate it. I truly hate it. I mean, there's a lot of guys doing stuff I admire but, stand-up-wise, I feel very alone. I really miss [Bill] Hicks... I really miss Sam [Kinison, whose ranting style was very influential on Rock]... I feel like the guy who finally got into Studio 54, three years too late. 'Duh, where are all the famous people?'"

Seven years later, Rock is still less than enthusiastic. "There's some guys. I like what Katt Williams is doing, Dane Cook's a decent guy, Jim Norton is pretty funny. [Dave] Chappelle would be my brother; more than anybody else he's the guy that actually puts fear in my heart and I go: 'Oh boy, I dunno if I want to go on after him.'"

Of the British comics, he is enthusiastic about Ricky Gervais, whose DVD poster is adorned with a quote from Rock describing Gervais as "one of the funniest comedians I have ever seen". "With Ricky there's some kind of weird honesty, sort of like Tourette's, very controlled Tourette's. I like Eddie Izzard a lot, and that young guy, Russell Brand's pretty good. Yeah, I've definitely been checking out the scene in the UK."

As far as doing his homework on the UK goes, Rock has only the brief Comedy Store and Live Earth experience to go by, but he feels that the omens are good: "I've no expectation for the good or bad, but I was passing through Heathrow on the way to India the other day and they had a book machine, which is something that you would never find in America. That was very encouraging."

Chris Rock tours to 26 January ( )
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Who you callin' sexist, honey?
On the subject of race, Chris Rock, live in the UK, was spot on. But on women? Hmmm
Stephanie Merritt
January 13, 2008
The Observer

Judging by the reception Chris Rock's first UK tour has had so far - 11 dates at four large venues sold out, tickets on eBay for more than double their face value - he will have to change the name of his sitcom, Everybody Hates Chris to Everybody Gives Chris Five-Star Reviews. Though the multi-Emmy-winning comic, recently voted fifth best stand-up of all time by a Comedy Central poll, has not been on a major tour for some years, occupying his time instead with the sitcom and various Hollywood movie projects which have failed to catapult him into what he calls 'Will Smith money', the absence doesn't show. In terms of performance, stagecraft and perfect control of his audience, Rock showed what stand-up on this scale - to a packed house at the Hammersmith Apollo - ought to be.

Incandescent with his trademark indignation, fizzing with restless energy, his unmistakeable voice modulating through five octaves in one sentence as he works himself up to a pitch of incredulity, Rock gallops through the issues of the day - the presidential race, Britney's meltdown, Bush, Bin Laden and Iraq. As a performance it's close to faultless.

But there is the matter of the material. Rock became famous as the black comic who could say the unsayable, who could hold a mirror up to black culture and make it laugh at its own worst excesses, while still managing to cross into the mainstream and appeal to white audiences. One of his most famous routines, which makes heavy use of the 'N' word, was even spoofed on the American version of The Office, when the (white) David Brent character repeats it and is surprised when someone files a complaint. Rock has been criticised by black leaders, who have accused him of giving white people licence to ridicule black people; civil rights activist Al Sharpton, who campaigns to end the use of the 'N' word, has appealed to him not to use it. Rock's response is that he will stop using it when he senses the audience no longer want to hear it, and that day seemed a long way off to judge by the response of tonight's fairly evenly racially mixed crowd.

'Now they want to eliminate my beloved "nigger",' he cries, mock-outraged, and the audience whoop in recognition. 'When I heard that news I went straight out and bought eight hundred shares in "coon". I tried to get "jigaboo" but that had sold out. "Jigaboo" went like iPhones.' Who is he mocking here - the well-meaning political correctness lobby who want to place controls on language, or the attitudes that brought those epithets into being in the first place? Probably both.

Either way, simply by speaking those words, he's reminding us of what racism has been and is still. 'I get white guys complaining that I get to use the word "nigger",' he goes on. 'Well last time I checked, that was the only advantage I had. You want to trade places?' he offers to a white man in the audience. 'You get up here and scream "nigger" and I'll raise interest rates. Because even if you don't personally run the world, the people who run the world look pretty much like you.'

This leads him neatly to Barack Obama, whom he has endorsed, last year introducing the presidential hopeful at an early rally in Harlem. 'Bush has fucked up so badly he's made it hard for a white man to run for President,' he comments, to rapturous applause.

At times his observations on race are brilliant: razor-sharp and carrying a serious point. A real flash of anger comes when he talks about his childhood, getting up at 6am to take the bus to the school where he was the only black kid. 'I'd be falling asleep and the teacher would say, "Ah, look, Chris can't read." No, Chris is just fucking tired.'

'But you get racism at all levels,' he goes on, straight-faced, explaining that he lives in a New Jersey neighbourhood of $3 million houses. The only black people living there are himself, Mary J Blige, Jay-Z and Denzel Washington. 'One of the greatest R&B singers of all time, one of the greatest rappers in the world, one of the finest actors in the world,' Rock says. 'The white guy who lives next door to me - he's a dentist. He's not even, like, the best dentist in the world, he's not in the dentists' Hall of Fame or anything. I had to host the fucking Oscars to get that house!' His voice went so high it sounded in danger of breaking. 'For him to be the dentist equivalent he would have had to invent teeth! Black man gotta fly to get the shit the white man can just walk to,' he says, shaking his head.

Elsewhere, though, he steps on to difficult ground, in particular a routine about black women, taking off from the problems Obama will have as President with a black wife. 'Black women can't be in the background of a relationship.' He mimics Obama giving his wife the good news: '"Honey, I'm President!" "No. We President."'

But he then goes into a riff about how black women are only interested in money, and men who can buy them what they want - 'If you ever see a black woman with an ugly white guy, you know her credit is fucked' - which I found, as a good white liberal, uncomfortable to listen to. It did feel at times as if we were all, black and white, being invited to laugh at lazy stereotypes, and the same feeling endured towards the end when he extended his material to include all women.

Where most club comics get the blow-job jokes in early to win over the audience so that they can sneak in some of their cleverer material later in the set, Rock did the reverse. I found myself laughing considerably less in the second half of his 90-minute set, when he left behind the provocative, intelligent stuff in favour of jokes about sloppy titties and various pedestrian observations about sex and the differences between men and women - material you could hear on any night of the week from plenty of male comics who will never be voted fifth best stand-up ever.

Even so, this is one of the slickest, most high-octane stand-up shows that will be seen in the UK this year. If he would trust more to the comic power of his most challenging material, the best of which comes from real anger, rather than sitting back into easy stereotypes, he would secure his place among history's comedy giants.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tend to agree that Chris Rock is great on everything except his jokes about women. I heard the superb Joe Cornish reviewing the show on his own radio show last week, and he made the same observation: Chris Rock is fucking hilarious but he can't shake off the lazy sexism.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOS ANGELES - Chris Rock testified Friday that he hired indicted Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano to investigate a model who demanded money after claiming she was carrying his baby and later accused him of sexual assault. In a 15-minute appearance on the witness stand, the comedian said he first hired Pellicano in 1999 but did not know about his tactics.

``Someone who was not pregnant with my child, claimed to be pregnant with my child and requested large sums of money,'' Rock testified. Pellicano and four other co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to using wiretaps and other tactics to dig up dirt to help clients in legal and other disputes.

On cross-examination, attorney Chad Hummel, who represents former Los Angeles police Sgt. Mark Arneson, asked if Rock knew what kind of information Pellicano was getting for him. ``I relied on what my lawyer told me,'' Rock said. Rock said DNA tests later proved he was not the father of the child.

``So you believe the claim to be false?'' Hummel asked.
``Yes,'' Rock said.

Rock testified that he hired Pellicano again two years later after the woman claimed the comedian had sexually assaulted her. Rock was never arrested or charged in connection with that allegation.

``Did you know Mr. Pellicano was following her?'' asked Hummel.
``Not really,'' Rock said.

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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris Rock: a one-man hurricane
Dominic Cavendish
5th May 2008

If you were anywhere near Madison Square Garden when this gig took place, you'd have had to contend against buffeting gales of laughter as Chris Rock slammed into his hometown with the force of a one-man hurricane. Once the Brooklyn-raised school drop-out scraped a living cleaning dishes at a Red Lobster restaurant; now, greeted with an instant standing ovation, he causes eyes to stream in rinsing motions of cathartic release. America needs cheering up right now? Rock's the man for the job. "I'm your anti-depressant," he yells.

If his fame is growing as immense as a Manhattan skyscraper, that's because he can talk right across the racial divide, making, as his sell-out show title puts it, "No Apologies". For those who needed proof that Rock has the gift for making a mixed audience laugh as one about racial discrimination, the legacy of slavery and the shortcomings of men and women - both black and white - here it was.

Like Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy before him - with whom he now easily stands comparison - race is one of Rock's main calling cards. But it's the more immediate issue of the race to the White House that's exercising his wit most keenly at the moment. Those who caught him on tour in the UK earlier this year heard only a fraction of what he has to say on the subject, and I hope he'll enlarge his set to satisfy our fascination with the American political circus when he hits London's classiest big-top, the O2 Arena, later this month.

Taking each candidate in turn, he started with John McCain, whose name alone provoked a round of boos: "Wasn't John McCain too old 10 years ago?" he asked. "He's like one of those guys who auditions for [American] Idol every year. Who will be his Vice President? A nurse?" The punch-lines sting with knuckle-hard truth: "How you going to make decisions about the future," Rock inquired, "when you aren't going to be here?"

In mocking Hillary Clinton, he is well versed. "Other countries have had leaders for women. We're so backwards we're like, 'What if she's on her period?' A lethal pause; he flashes a grin so charming it'd make Queen Victoria smile. "Well, then the Vice President takes over. You can't have her take big decisions on a heavy flow. We'll be going to war every month." He loves baiting the women in his audience - but there was no sign that any of them wanted to do anything other than rip the shirt off his back.

Best of all was his material about Barack Obama. Rock is only three years younger, has the same can-do attitude and evidently wants the guy to win - but that doesn't stop him from saying the unsayable. "That's the blackest name I ever heard," he jokes. "You expect to see a brother with a spear standing on top of a dead lion." He added: "We have never seen a black man this cool before, not this cool and legal! He don't use crazy words and shit. We're used to screaming and swearing. He's from a whole other school." So too is Rock.

A night earlier I was lucky enough to catch another HBO star. Jeff Garlin, from Curb Your Enthusiasm, delivered a beautifully relaxed, digression-rich set at revered midtown club Caroline's on Broadway. You can't really paraphrase such riffs as the day he chose possible arrest for shoplifting over an argument with his wife in a store. I just hope someone did the decent illegal thing and got it all on cell-phone for dissemination on YouTube.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris Rock can't get arrested... literally
Bizarre 'practical joke' goes awry

Chris Rock has obtained a court order that prevents South African police from arresting him, after a practical joke went wrong. Authorities in South Africa, where Rock is on tour with his No Apologies show, received a letter purporting to be from the ‘International Police Association’, and asking for their help in arresting him. But it was a spoof, apparently sent by a British teenager as a joke, and possibly as a stunt for a TV show.

So Rock’s representatives turned to Johannesburg High Court, to prevent him from being arrested on the basis of the bogus letter. Judge Kathy Satchwell issued an interim ruling that no law enforcers were allowed to arrest or detain Rock without having obtained the proper warrant. She also ordered that Rock's passport stay in the possession of his lawyer until her final decision, expected tomorrow.

Rock’s tour manager Sam Hendrikse told the local Beeld newspaper that ‘the letter and arrest threat were a practical joke that went wrong. Our legal team took the necessary precautions to ensure that the tour to South Africa was not disrupted,’ he said. He added that Rock – who recently broke records for playing to the biggest comedy audience in the UK – would not take legal steps against the practical joker.

Rock hit the headlines earlier in the week for his comments on a wave of South African violence that has claimed the lives of 60 immigrants and forced another 100,000 out of their homes, amid accusations the foreigners were taking jobs and committing crime. The comic said he did not consider the problem as black-on-black violence, but a product of poverty.

‘It's broke-on-broke violence, he said. ‘It's broke people robbing each other. That's the sad thing’.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The evolution of Chris Rock
Age, wealth and famous friends such as Obama and Oprah have not quite drawn comedian Chris Rock’s sting
Kevin Maher
June 11 2010

Has Chris Rock lost his mojo or has he got it back? This is the fundamental question hanging over the 45-year-old stand-up comic, actor, director and “Funniest Man in America” (according to Time magazine). For Rock has followed a plethora of Hollywood movies, including Bad Company, Madagascar and the recent Death at a Funeral, with his strongest screen work yet — a fascinating and funny documentary about African-American hairstyles and self-image called Good Hair. He is, says Forbes magazine, the second richest comedian in America (after Jerry Seinfeld) with an income last year of $42 million (£29 million). He can also still bask in his sell-out Kill the Messenger world tour and his sitcom Everybody Hates Chris.

Off screen too, he is a confidante of Oprah Winfrey, he has President Obama’s personal numbers on his mobile phone and, when home in his own New Jersey mansion, he can count Jay-Z and Eddie Murphy as his closest neighbours. Yet there are hints that the raging, fulminating Chris Rock of old (typified, perhaps, by his infamous and incendiary stage rant “I love black people, but I hate niggers”) has been subsumed by the newer, slicker and safer success story.

“Prepare yourself to be bored!” This is how he begins, after clearing an army of publicists, photographers and assistants from the small library of a Central London hotel. In person, dressed all in black, he is trim, polite and surprisingly diffident. His self-deprecation is his defence. As is his ability to flip between personae mid- sentence — from “real-life Chris” to “stand-up comedy Chris” and back again. Thus, later, when I ask him if he ever wakes at 4am and stares in despair at the mirror, he whips back: “If I’m staring at myself in the mirror at 4am I think I might’ve done cocaine! And maybe I’m sad because I can’t get any more!”

He can be a slippery fish. I ask if his incessant stage routines about avaricious, money-obsessed women and the need for men to constantly “keep them happy” is his own belief or part of a stage gag. “You have to keep your woman happy,” he says, grinning conspiratorially. “That’s not a belief. The existence of vampires is a belief. Keeping your woman happy is a fact.”

How do these routines relate to his own wife, the charity director Malaak Compton-Rock? The couple have been married for 14 years, but split up briefly in 2007, amid allegations that Rock had had a brief fling with a Hungarian model called Monika Eva Zsibrita. Though they are now reunited, Rock delights in depicting their marriage in tough-love terms. “My wife will leave me if I don’t have money,” he says, deadpan. “She might rough it for a month or two, but without money, she’s going to be: ‘I’m getting out of here!’ ”

On the subject of Good Hair, however, there is little ambiguity. A passion project for Rock, who also wrote and produced, it began in 2007 when his daughter Lola (now 8, with a sister, Zahra, 6) asked him why she didn’t have “good” hair. By good she meant the silky, flowing European kind rather than the thick, black and African-American. The question troubled Rock and ultimately launched him, camera crew in tow, on a journey into the $9 billion heart of the black hair industry. Along the way he visited a Hindu temple in southern India where human hair is collected for black extensions or “weaves” (as a result the temple is, according to the film, second only to the Vatican in wealth), inspected a South Carolina factory that manufactures a popular yet highly caustic sodium hydroxide for straightening black hair, and observed the wannabe stylists at the annual Bronner Brothers Hair Show and Contest in Atlanta, Georgia.

The results are witty, informative and thoughtful, and full of bristling comment from such as the poet Maya Angelou, the singers Salt-N-Pepa and the actress and singer Eve. No, he adds, Oprah was never an option. “I don’t bother Oprah with that stuff,” he says. “If you’re friends with a billionaire you’ve got to figure that people call them all the time for shit. ”

He says that the film was a “growing experience” for him, and that although he is already in pre-production on a follow-up documentary called Credit is the Devil (about America’s personal credit crisis) he doesn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. “I am not the new Michael Moore. Michael Moore is still going strong. In fact, every documentary just gets made with the hope that it can become a Michael Moore movie.”

And still, there are moments, midway through Good Hair, when it seems that the movie is going to truly ignite. It’s on the verge of addressing how fundamentally destructive it is for African-American women to be internalising these very European notions of physical beauty. But then it simply cracks some more jokes and toddles on. Scrap avoided.

I wonder why the film isn’t angrier. “You can’t get angry about things that don’t affect you directly,” he says, not entirely convincingly. “You can be curious about it, like gay marriage. But you can’t be angry about it. Do I wish that people would embrace their African side a little more? Yes. Yes. Yes. But it doesn’t affect me, so I can’t be that judgmental.”

I think, though, that it goes farther than this. Once his stage routines were defined by racial politics and vitriolic tirades on health insurance, social security and the minimum wage (“Minimum wage means: ‘If I could pay you less I would, but it’s against the law’ ”). Whereas his most recent shows have mostly stayed on the safe territory of male-female conflict.

Where has all the anger gone? “What intelligent being has the same amount of anger 20 years later on?” he says. “There are still things I’m angry about, don’t get me wrong. But you calm down. And you realise that you can’t change most of the shit that’s going on. You realise that you’re just a man.”

Has Obama’s election calmed him? “I’m sure on some levels it has,” he says. “Because a lot of white people had to vote for him to get in. As a black man you were never allowed to give the white man the benefit of the doubt — I’m going to assume racist until you hug me! But now, it’s like, this guy might’ve voted for Obama!”

Of course, the angry-era Rock is a different beast entirely. He emerged first at 11pm on February 11, 1984, at the Catch a Rising Star comedy club on East 77th Street, New York. The son of a lorry-driver father and special-needs teacher mother, and the eldest of seven children, the 19-year-old Rock had been waiting to buy some tickets for an Eddie Murphy gig. He spotted a Rising Star auditions ad in a newspaper, scribbled some jokes down (“Miles Davis is so black lightning bugs follow him in the daytime”) and went on stage that night. “I got some laughs, the owner said: ‘You passed, you can come back’. And I’ve been doing it ever since.”

The material back then, which would eventually feed his breakout 1996 HBO special Bring the Pain, was formed from childhood. His family lived in a tough Brooklyn neighbourhood, and he was bussed, in a racial integration experiment, to a tough white school in the Italian- American suburb of Bensonhurst. One of only four black children at the school, he was exposed to toxic levels of abuse. This would emerge as cute gags in Rock’s TV series Everybody Hates Chris, but in the early material it sparked pure rage.

Today he starts by joking. “I was a typical skinny kid, and with boys it’s so much about the physical. And when boys aren’t popular they get the shit kicked out of them. They get degraded. People literally throw cups of piss on them.” He stops, having clearly shifted from the general to the particular, and changes tone. “When you’re a boy, motherf***ers do some mean shit to you.”

So would a psychologist say that you’ve laughed your pain away? “I’m a pretty, relatively, happy guy. And I don’t think that hinders me. If I had to go on tour next month I think I could come up with a pretty funny act.”

His future is crowded, including a much smaller and more intimate comedy tour, as well as some more writing and directing, and crucial family time. He ends with a sigh, “Careers are long, man. I have ample time to fuck this thing up, and to have people hate me and think I suck.” This is a man whose mojo is not lost, nor found. Just evolved.

Good Hair opens on June 25
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Conversation with Chris Rock
What’s killing comedy.
What’s saving America.

This is an excellent interview

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