DAR Comedy: The Career of Chris Rock

Introduction by @TrueGodImmortal
-For many, Chris Rock is one of the greatest comedians of all time. For others, his brand of comedy is hit or miss. Whether or not you like Chris Rock, love Chris Rock, or even hate Chris Rock, there's no denying his career, his smarts, and what he's been able to accomplish over the years. From his arrival in comedy through the smaller nightclubs to his first official movie role in Beverly Hills Cop 2, Chris had set forth on a path to earn some prominence, and he was captivating one big name: Eddie Murphy. Eddie saw something in him and gave him a shot, leading to that first role in BeverlyHills Cop 2, but the roles that would make Chris more visible came from a Wayans produced parody film, the legendary "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka". Playing a customer who only wanted to buy one rib at a rib joint, Chris has what I consider to be the most memorable scene in the entire movie. It would be soon after that scene that Chris would see a small takeoff in his career, starting with years on Saturday Night Live, where he managed to provide the audience with much more laughter than a majority of his cast members IMO.

With newfound fame from Saturday Night Live, Chris would get high acclaim for his role as Pookie in New Jack City, release a comedy album (Born Suspect), and create a movie that remains to be one of the funniest parodies of all time, CB4. A low budget movie, CB4 would become a cult classic for the outlandish portrayal and parody of gangsta rap, along with the reality of how the music industry pimps and utilizes these said artists. To me, this is his sole film highlight as an actor in the 90s because where Chris shined the most during this decade was in stand up comedy and television easily. He would be chosen as the voice for the infamous "Lil Penny" dolls that helped make Penny Hardaway a bigger star, and he would also see his comedy specials Big Ass Jokes (from 1994) and one of his most infamous, Bring The Pain (from 1996, which earned him an Emmy) garner him some acclaim as arguably the funniest man in America. After small cameo roles on hit TV shows like Martin and Fresh Prince, Chris would then get the opportunity to host the MTV Music Video Awards in 1997 before getting his own show on HBO, The Chris Rock Show. It seemed as if Chris could do no wrong in the late 90s from a TV or stand up perspective, but film wise, he was still struggling a bit to find his footing.

After the release of the huge comedy special Bigger and Blacker in 2000, Chris got more involved with films and released a string of solid comedies like Down To Earth, the cult classic Pootie Tang (that I'm not a big fan of, but I see the allure), did voice overs in Osmosis Jones, and ended up playing the first black president 5 years before we really got one in Head Of State. Though none of these movies were huge successes financially, they all managed to be solid for the most part and enjoyable watches. Chris would utilize the 2nd half of the 2000s to get more involved with film while returning to TV and stand up releasing two more specials in Never Scared and Kill the Messenger, while producing a TV sitcom series loosely based on his life with Everybody Hates Chris. Chris would be tasked with the responsibility of hosting the 77th Annual Academy Awards in 2005, and this might have been the only time we saw bigger backlash for him in his career. He would poke fun (like comedians are supposed to do) at attendees and himself, and even the Oscars ceremony in general. The stuffy Oscars crowd didn't seem to like it, and while Chris was justified to make his jokes and have fun, it was obvious that the Oscars aren't a place for edgy comedians. After the Oscars debacle, Chris would star in films like The Longest Yard, do voice over work for animated films like Bee Movie and Madagascar, and also direct and star in the hilarious I Think I Love My Wife, which is probably my 2nd favorite movie of his. My favorite? His 2009 documentary Good Hair, where he looked into the hair industry and how the chemicals put into products directed towards black people are deadly to the scalp, the hair, and even our overall health. It's the best thing I think that Chris has produced or done, if only for the awareness he brought to something that affects the black community, mostly our mothers, sisters, and daughters.

More recently, Chris released a film that I found to be pretty entertaining in Top Five, where he played Andre Allen, a comedian who became a successful actor with horrible films that did well at the box office, and he hasn't been the same since. This was a really funny yet smartly executed film, and I really think it's a top highlight in the career of Chris. There's a lot of highlights in his career, and I may have missed some myself here, so let's allow the rest of the team the chance to speak on their best moments and memories of Chris Rock, or anything of that sort. The floor is yours team.

I first got introduced to Chris Rock back in films like I'm Gonna Git You Sucka and New Jack City. I know, I know. He was on SNL and CB4 was a thing, which is great. A great thing, but I got introduced to Chris Rock by him playing a rib shack customer and a crack head. Even in those roles, humor shined through...even when you probably didn't expect it to. I mean, you wouldn't have expected a stick-up kid-turned-junkie-turned-informant to have some of the showstealing lines/moments, but he did.

But, let's get to CB4, shall we? For me, that's required watching if you need to understand Chris Rock. It's not Top Five and it's not self-parodying or anything, but, it's a definitely hilarious look at the gangsta rap culture of the 1990s, the real and the fake of the culture, and...I mean, it's Chris Rock pretty much playing a fake gangsta rapper in a riff on the genre's tropes. Do you really need more?

If you need any more proof that Chris Rock is a genius, just check out his comedy specials as well like Bring The Pain, Bigger And Blacker (No Sex.... In the Champagne Room!), and more.  Pure classics.

I have an interesting opinion about Chris Rock IMO. While I think he’s the absolute greatest in a lot of ways and while I absolutely love a lot of the things he’s been in, I don’t love everything he’s done. Although he had made guest appearances in shows like “Miami Vice” early in his career and in a couple episodes of “In Living Color” in the early ‘90’s, those weren’t the roles that stuck out to me. In fact, I barely remember Chris Rock in either show. It was his roles in "Saturday Night Live" and "New Jack City" where he started refining his skills, managed to stick out (his In Living Color stint came after these, but wasn't as memorable), and created a name for himself in the industry. With over forty appearances in film and on TV shows, Chris Rock proved that he was someone with a unique sense of humor, a talent for acting and one who could address any topic regardless of controversy in any setting. Here are the performances that I feel are Chris Rock’s very best:

For someone who had been in entertainment for a few years with minor roles in movie and some stand up gigs, it comes as no surprise that "Saturday Night Live" would be on the list. Chris Rock was on SNL when it was at its best and reappeared for anniversary episodes and this would lead to some of his greatest stand up bits. He always spoke about race relations, class status, political views and more, much like other comedians, but Chris Rock’s abrasive and unique delivery made it resonate a little more with the audience. The “I was born a suspect”,  “Bullet Control” and the “Dick In The Glass” bit are some of my favorites. Take the comedic aspect out and he is on to something, but fluffed up with his humor it’s hilarious and allows both male and female audience members to relate to and appreciate it.

Of course, I must mention Chris Rock’s run at film. I like him the most in his animated roles, but Marty from Madagascar to be exact. He was a zebra who thinks there’s more to life than being stuck in a zoo and made a run for it with his friends. While he did a fantastic job in bringing the character to life with his extra energetic personality and humor, it was the way he appealed to both adults and kids that was most impressive. Whenever an actor can do an animated role just as good as a regular one, that shows an immense amount of versatility since they have to try extra hard to permeate the animation. Chris Rock did it with no problems. And while we all enjoyed that he was a zebra, his reasoning as a bit deeper than that. Race topics have always been important to Rock and he’s always been very vocal about that. He’s been quoted as saying “In honor of our zebra President. Black and white, white and black. … I love our President, but he’s black and white. He appeals to all. And that’s what I am going for,” and he did just that. He was the perfect choice for that character and a highlight of the movie.

While this next one isn’t really a “performance” per se, it is probably my most favorite thing to see him in. It’s both reflective of his influence and his ability and that of course is as the host of any award show, mainly the Academy Awards. While he’s been the host on two separate occasions, both were not only entertaining and funny, but they were also insightful, thought-provoking and enlightening. Both times he’s incorporated topics that are important to him, in fact his opening line always has to do with bringing to light the “black actor/actress” presence in all the categories. While this may be a sensitive subject for some, Chris Rock has no problem whatsoever talking about any of it. In both his monologues (2005 and in 2016), he cleverly points out the race issues in Hollywood. While everyone in the room laughs because it’s Chris Rock, he manages to highlight it for not only them, but the viewers. His 2016 monologue was the most powerful and his deliberate use of some very sensitive words were done to shed light on how Hollywood is part of the problem albeit in a “you can’t sit with us” kind of way rather than a more blatant one. In such a predominantly white industry, Chris Rock was the perfect person to deliver a monologue like that. It’s consistent with what he's always talked about and he utilizes his platform well.

As I said, Chris Rock doesn’t have a flawless filmography or list of television appearances, but where he is incredible is stand up and he always manages to compliment any role he does whether as a guest appearance or a regular cast member. He’s refined himself over the years and gained an immense amount of respect in the industry while continuing to positively influence people, starting out or already in the field.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal 
-Although he's not my favorite, Chris Rock certainly is known as one of the greatest comedians of our time and one of the most successful. While he isn't in the conversation with Eddie, Richard, or Dave (IMO), he's right there below them in esteemed company with the Bernies, the Martins, and perhaps higher than those as well. He looks to add to his legacy with a two comedy special deal with Netflix worth 40 million, and a new stand up tour. That should certainly be interesting and could be very rewarding creatively to his career. When we look back on comedy, we can surely bet that one name that'll always come to mind is Chris Rock.



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