Have you ever read something that you knew was going to spoil like milk gone bad, a take on an event that the reviewer just get 100% wrong?
That happened once again on Sunday, the morning after Chris Rock wowed the world with yet another incredible comedy special, securing his position as one of the greatest social commentators of our time.
“Chris Rock becomes a sad old man yelling at clouds in live Netflix special,” the headline of the USA Today piece by Kelly Lawler read.
She delivered the most simplistic of all possible takes. “Perhaps Chris Rock should have titled his new Netflix standup special, “Get Off My Lawn,’” she wrote.
Let’s pause for long enough to note that Ms. Lawler is no Mr. Rock if that’s her opening joke. Mr. Rock was probably funnier at age 5.
“That’s the tone Rock presented in ‘Selective Outrage,’” Ms. Lawler wrote. “He’s crotchety. He’s mean. He’s predictable and boring.” Huh. Dude’s 58. Talk about selective outrage.
Well, not to brag (too late), but I’m a bit of a comedy expert — I watch them all, and I know funny. Mr. Rock was funny, big time. He held court for more than an hour, stalking the stage like a caged panther, sweeping side to side like Fred Astaire, setting up jokes and then knocking them down like Ali dropping Frazier.
And he blew away the predominantly black audience gathered in Baltimore, even though he both supported and then blasted abortion.
“They say, ‘Chris, you shouldn’t talk about abortion. It’s a woman’s issue. And I’m like, ‘Hey, I’ve paid for more abortions than any woman in this room!’” he said to roars of laughter.
“I have two beautiful daughters, right? … I want my daughters to live in a world where they have complete control of their bodies,” he said.
“Because of that, I am pro-choice. … I believe women should have the right to kill babies. I’m on your side!” he said to laughter. But he was about to go someplace the audience didn’t see coming.
“I believe you should have the right to kill as many babies as you want. Kill them all. I don’t give a f***. But let’s not get it twisted. It is killing a baby. Because whenever I pay for an abortion, I request a dead baby. Sometimes I call up the doctor like a hitman,” he said, holding a thumb and index finger to his face before saying, ‘Is it done?’”
Like another great social commentator, Dave Chappelle, Mr. Rock is now uncancellable. He’s a modern-day Mark Twain holding up a mirror to us all.
Of course, just days before Mr. Rock appeared in his latest special, word leak that he would finally address “the slap heard ‘round the world.” Actor Will Smith slapped Mr. Rock nearly a year ago on the Oscars stage, and Rock has spoken about the incident only sparingly.
“For people that don’t know, well everybody knows, but Will Smith’s wife was f***ing her son’s friend, OK? Now I normally wouldn’t talk about this s***. But for some reason these n***** put that s*** on the internet,” Mr. Rock said.
“We’ve all been cheated on, everybody in here has been cheated on. None of us have been interviewed by the person that cheated on us on television, like, ‘Hey I was sucking somebody else’s d***, how did that make you feel?’” he said, pointing the mic toward the camera. “Why the f*** would you do that s***?”
Of Jada Pinkett-Smith, Mr. Rock said: “Nobody’s picking on this b****, she started it.” Why did Mr. Rock just stand there and take the slap? He addressed that, too.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Chris why didn’t you do nothing back?’ Because I got parents that’s why, because I was raised. And you know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of white people.”
With that, he dropped the mic and walked off. Next to him was a very — very — large bodyguard. In this world of selective outrage, even comedians now need protection. But no one can cancel Rock now. His next special should just be called “Uncancellable.”
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.