In my opinion Chris Rock is one of, if not the best, stand-up comedians working today. He has an amazing skill of writing and delivering timely and relevant material. There are lots of comics out there. They seem a dime a dozen but what stands out about Mr. Rock is that he gets us to laugh and then he gets us to think.
I am writing this in December and some of you may think the reason he is making my list is because he just signed a $40 million dollar deal with Netflix to produce two new specials. Not bad for a guy from Bed-Stuy. Chris Rock is the epitome of the American Dream. His success was not overnight but something he worked extremely hard to achieve and yes, having a $40 million dollar deal with Netflix is definitely a great way to cap off the year. But that’s not why he’s making this list.
Chris Rock has been entertaining audiences for years. From Saturday Night Live, to movies like Beverly Hills Cop and New Jack City, to his latest film Top Five that he wrote and directed. His stand up is legendary and he has performed the world over.
Mr. Rock makes this list for taking on, perhaps, one of the hardest jobs of his career. He makes this list for what he did on February 28, 2016. He hosted the Academy Awards.
For the second year in a row the Academy failed to nominate any people of colour in the acting categories despite the fact there were worthy contenders. As a result a lot of people (of all races) decided to boycott the ceremony. ‘Oscars so white’ began trending in social media and many people called for Mr. Rock to join and decline hosting the event. What a predicament that must have been for him. He had the choice of joining shoulder to shoulder with some of his peers or facing a difficult assignment with others.
Throughout his career Chris Rock’s greatest weapon never had any bullets; no, his greatest weapon has always been readily available on every stage he performed on. On February 28 of this year that weapon was fully loaded. Of course I am talking about his microphone.
And on that night no one was off limits.
In regards to not hosting he had the perfect response; ‘I thought about quitting but I don’t need to lose another job to Kevin Hart’
To the boycotters he had ‘Jada (Smith) boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rhianna’s panties…I wasn’t invited’
But then he got serious with ‘We want opportunities. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities as the white actors, that’s it.’
Did Chris Rock cure racism? No. But he shone a light on a problem in Hollywood. I sincerely doubt that this year’s Academy Awards acting nominees will lack diversity. I will be shocked if it does.
Chris Rock is just as relevant as he was when he first took the stage many years ago. Many comedians fill the landscape with their unique talents but I think Mr. Rock is still the best.
When a community was frustrated and felt they needed a voice, Chris Rock delivered that voice by doing what he has been doing all of his career: he got us to laugh and then he got us to think.
These are the reasons why I find Chris Rock fascinating.