"Bring the Pain" (1996) and "Bigger and Blacker" (1999) brought tears to my eyes. Chris Rock was the man. He made me holler! He was so clever, and witty. His voice was unique. His jokes were hysterical. And he continued to make fabulous HBO specials up until "Kill the Messenger" in 2008...and then he stopped.
He was kinda off the radar for a bit. Still around, but not super "hot" while other guys like Chappelle and Kevin Hart were working their way up the comedic ranks. He was always great, but not always the most relevant cat in the comedy club.
Admittedly, some of his movies were less than stellar after the fire that was the 90s. There was great messaging and philosophies in the concepts of "Down to Earth" (2001) and in "Head of State" (2003). And I actually really, really enjoyed the 2014 film "Top 5," even though I didn't hear much hype before or after its release.
Needless to say, right? Obviously, Chris Rock is one of the greatest comedians of our time. Now when I speak of "our" time...I consider Eddie Murphy just to be on the edges of our generation. I was young enough to laugh at his stand-up specials when they first came out, but not old enough to originally catch the context or nuances. What I love about Chris Rock's latest special is that I'm old enough to be in on the joke. Maybe even too old. And that's the beauty of his humour right now...it's right on time, and right in step.
TAMBORINE is the name of the Netflix special that blessed him with millions and millions, and blessed me with some laughter. In fact, since its February 14th release, I've already watched the special twice. This one in particular has resonated with me.
Live from Brooklyn, where Chris Rock was raised (although born in South Carolina), the 53-year old comedian was honest about his position right now. As a seasoned entertainer. As a father to Black children. As a husband, as a single man, and as a wealthy man. The honesty, and introspection is what made this special...well, special to me.
I remember Chris Rock as being loud, and wild, and you never knew what he was gonna say. Unpredictable and such. Images of "CB4" and some of his antics of the past weren't really a concern. He is still outspoken and hilarious...but not with the same reckless abandon that he once had. I trusted his words to be significant...and even when they were slightly off-colour...I knew that there was a bigger message that would be reinforced as a result.
I respect his opinion. I loved to hear his perspectives. I laughed even the second time around when I caught new angles to what he was saying. It was so reflective of the culture, and the growth of the culture...a culture that he was a part of, and a culture that he helped to create.
In conclusion, I just love to see the culture grow. I love to see the same faces that we watched 30 years still on screen doing what they do best. I enjoy watching the growth of their careers, and how they handle adversity. It's interesting to see the ways in which they master their art, and how time and perspective and culture shape the way they deliver their gifts. All of this made watching TAMBORINE extremely enjoyable for me. But it was Chris Rock that made it almost magical, because I felt like he's BACK and not even trying to fade away from the stage. He's going to ride this career out to the fullest, staying on top of his game, and I'll be here every step of the way to watch and laugh out loud. With appreciation.
Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.