There’s something to be said about a man who can pick up a mic after ten years and appear as though he never left the stage. That’s what it was like watching Chris Rock in his special “Tambourine.” He’s always been my favorite stand-up comic, in fact, he was the first stand-up comic I had ever watched.
I had seen parts of his works on Youtube, Bring the Pain, Bigger and Blacker, clips of other times he performed at clubs and such. But I think the first time I fell in love with his comedy was when I heard the voice of the guinea pig in Dr. Dolittle. That movie was my absolutely favorite movie when I was a kid. Eddy Murphy was absolutely hilarious, but the guinea pig…the cute and furry guinea pig had a really strange voice and was feisty as hell. Definitely one of my favorite characters in the movie, except for the Doctor.
The first full special I got to watch was Kill the Messenger, where Chris Rock worked the stage in Johannesburg, New York, and London, talking about America’s big election, racism, his view of women, and so much more. He put it all out there, and he did not give one damn, what anyone said about him. Everyone knew that that’s what Chris Rock stood and still stands for. Sure, there’s a different between material and beliefs, but at the core of it the comedy makes you think. Anyways, I was probably way too young to be watching that special as a thirteen-year-old on an airplane on the way back from my family summer vacation in Spain.
That was one of the last few pieces of new material I saw from Chris Rock until he did the Oscars, and he had hosted the Oscars before, but this was new. This was when Hollywood decided to wake itself up and realize that even on the most liberal level….it was and still is racist. Sure things are looking up now, but they have to remain that way for there to be some sort of stability. Either way, while the audience was laughing awkwardly knowing that Rock was pointing fingers directly at them, and calling them out, it was clear to see they weren’t used to that or him. But that’s what he does.
“Tambourine,” I would argue is one of his most philosophically and logically thought out specials. While Dave Chappelle signed a contract with Netflix and released around four specials, Rock only did one, and he released it on Valentine’s Day. I had seen bits and pieces of Chappelle’s work and I was definitely impressed with his new material on Netflix, but that was all blown out of the water when I saw “Tambourine,” not that I didn’t expect to be blown away. His comedy is cutting, nail biting, and crude. It’s so raw, yet so hilarious. It makes you want to cry and laugh at the reality of the situations we are all living in. And anyone can complain that Rock hurt their feelings, but you don’t go to a comedy special or watch one and not expect the comic to be completely honest with you about how they feel.
While Chappelle addressed the turmoil surrounding his feelings about the transgender community, I think it is important to note that you can’t just make people feel or think a certain way. Sure, Chappelle has a responsibility to educate himself on these issues, just like every other member of society, but he is still entitled to his opinion, and if you don’t like it, don’t watch. He’s a comic, and he’s going to say what he thinks and feels. It may be hurtful, but comedy is the one place where everything can be talked about, and people can leave after nearly passing out from laughter, but still with a seed of truth planted within their brains. We can’t hope to have an open discussion about these touchy subjects, and learn from one another, if we are all constantly silencing others’ opinions in the name of political correctness. Because THAT action in itself is not “politically correct.” Not in the market place of ideas, and not in a democracy.
All of this just ties back to some people getting on the legend’s back about his take on race. While Chappelle’s audience was noticeably white, and that might be for many reasons, Rock’s was primarily black (again, could be many reasons). You have to understand that these two men have been around for a long time, Rock has always talked about race, not because it’s a hot topic, but because it affects him in his daily life.
Shah Rukh Khan, the King of Bollywood gave a shout out to this legendary comic just the other day, admiring the Chris Rock’s work, and you have to admit, after ten years…the man hasn’t lost his touch.
He has always talked about love and women, and while his confession in his special was particularly disheartening for me, the way he told us to learn from him was exceptional. We must all play the “Tambourine.”