Chris Rock
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Honest social commentary override laughs in Chris Rock’s mediocre new special

Iconic comic Chris Rock has gone through the ringer this past year. Given that Chris is a comic, the best way to address his tribulations is on the stage. Rock collaborated with streaming giant Netflix and brought his talents to the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore, MD, for a live special.

Carrying the moniker, Selective Outrage, the one-hour special finds Rock taking on a variety of subjects. Before the special airing, I had already decided not to watch it live. I knew every social media platform would share reactions instantly, and I didn’t want my experience ruined. I always felt that Rock’s latest tour would be available for home viewing in some shape or fashion. Therefore I spent the last year avoiding any review of his solo shows or his joint tour this past summer with one of the goats Dave Chappelle. 

Dressed in all white and sporting a necklace that paid homage to Prince, Rock took the stage as a seasoned veteran. That said, I’m sure by now folks know that some of the topics Rock touched on included abortion, Megan Markle, wokeness, and the problems of a wealthy black guy.

I’ve been rocking with Chris Rock since his cameo as a valet in Beverly Hills Cop II. His two directorial efforts Head of State and I Think I Love My Wife, were two of my favorite films the year they were released. I regularly quote CB4 and revisit Bigger and Blacker. Finally, I paid the resell value to see him live in 2017 when his Tambourine tour hit D.C. 

Sadly, Rock’s latest special didn’t hit the mark for me. For starters, Rock needed to hit with the material and delivery. His transitions from joke to joke didn’t come off as organic. Instead, they seemed like he was rehashing jokes from previous sets. One particular joke about one of his daughters was just an expansion on a joke from Tambourine. Other times there were ten minutes where I didn’t laugh.

The million-dollar question, though, is how did I feel about Rock addressing the Will Smith incident? On the one hand, you can’t tell someone how they should respond to trauma. Quiet as it’s kept, Chris has been going at it with the Smiths for years. Some feel that everything he said about the Smith family in the special was justified after what happened on that stage; others think Rock had it coming. While I disagree with Rock calling Jada out of her name, he is a comedian, and I’ve heard worse. That said, the roasting of Will Smith did garner a few chuckles.

As a comedian, Rock has close to forty years in the game. I understand at this point in his career, and age 58, he sees the world differently. However, the entire theme of Rock’s show was calling out hypocrites, and as one of our comedy GOATs, he is capable of better.


Final Grade: C

Selective Outrage is streaming on Netflix now

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