Point Of View: Why Chris Rock Is Brilliant
With his highly-anticipated and already raved about film Top 5 releasing December 12, Chris Rock has been making his rounds on various forms of media and press. He hosted Saturday Night Live and has done a slew of interviews such as a very hip-hip centric one alongside Roots drummer ?uestlove on the podcast Juan Epstein which was, by all means, great. But the best interview he’s probably ever done was just released yesterday in New York Magazine with Frank Rich.
Never one to mince words, Chris Rock talks about some of everything with great candor and an honesty that makes you either love him or hate him. When asked about why some liked his SNL monologue Rock opined “Honestly, it’s not that people were offended by what I said. They get offended by how much fun I appear to be having while saying it. You could literally take everything I said on Saturday night and say it on Meet the Press, and it would be a general debate, and it would go away.” This is why Chris Rock is brilliant.
Frank Rich asked Rock if during his career did any comedians ever hold any distain towards him and he replied saying Bill Cosby did early on. That opened up the door for what he thinks in the midst of the allegations and this was pretty much all he had to say: “It’s a weird year for comedy. We lost Robin, we lost Joan, and we kind of lost Cosby.” Spot on.
At the end of the day, Chris Rock is a comedian. While speaking with Frank Rich, Chris seems to always bring everything back to just that. It gives the reader an idea of not only how he works, but how most comedians see the world, and what makes him successful. In the midst of talking about Robin Williams, Chris insinuates that comedians are generally depressed individuals and that his two daughters saved him from being his “miserable self.”
“Being a comedian, 80 percent of the job is just you notice sh*t” is the most poignant quote in the whole article. The second being “I’ve always said, ‘okay, what’s the angle no one’s talking about? And what if the thing that everybody’s talking about is wrong?’”
Why? Because everything that makes this article-and Chris Rock-great is based on this. As of today there will be many articles and think pieces about what Chris Rock said in this same exact interview using Cosby, Ferguson, racism, and/or Obama in the headline to gain interest. Very seldom will give much thought to the “why” as opposed to just what he said. Yes, Obama was expected to be Michael Jordan and we got Shaq; which is great but people won’t realize it until it’s all over. His commentary on Obama’s presidency (“It’s just his best album might have been his first album”) is dead on. These are all takes on a subject we have heard many times before…but it’s his point of view which is why we are all writing about Chris Rock twenty-six years after “one rib.”
With that said, the angle I have seldom heard-if at all-about race and Obama has come from Chris Rock in this interview and it is endearing. He talks about stories his mother told him about her upbringing in South Carolina in which they had their teeth pulled by vets–not dentists; and that if white people had known this they would have taken their pets to said veterinarians. Looking at how his children are currently growing up, Rock states: “It’s partly generational, but it’s also my kids grew up not only with a Black president but with a Black secretary of State, a Black joint chief of staff, a Black attorney general. My children are going to be the first Black children in the history of America to actually have the benefit of the doubt of just being moral, intelligent people.”