Judge David Johnson still has no idea what Pootie Tang is talking about.
HBO has a double-shot of Chris Rock for you fans of hilarious, edgy comedy. The 1997 HBO The Chris Rock Show provided the powerhouse comedian with a comedy outlet outside of the stage. With this bundle double-dip, a compilation of Rock's best pieces are available for your consumption.
Facts of the Case
The Chris Rock Show was a sketch-oriented show hosted by Rock in front of an exuberant live audience in New York City back in 1997. Comedy bits were either pre-taped or performed live on stage. And this being HBO, anything went; sketches were tasteless, profanity-laden, and unafraid to stir the racial pot. In a way, it was a precursor to the now-defunct Chapelle's Show. Of course that's a pretty stupid statement considering most pre-cursors had pre-cursors that had pre-cursors that had pre-cursors, etc.
Look, all I'm trying to say is this was a funny-ass show with a popular black comedian.
Both Best of The Chris Rock Show and Best of The Chris Rock Show Volume II have been released individually, almost five years ago in fact. This two-disc set is simply a bundle of what's been kicking around for awhile.
Each disc runs about an hour and features a mix of pre-recorded sketches and Rock's live stuff.
If you've already got these discs you can stop reading this review; there's nothing new here. However, if you're a fan of Chris Rock, or don't mind laughing a lot, I'd urge you to scope this set out.
Chris Rock remains for me one of the all-time funniest life forms ever. His stand-up material is the stuff of legend—envelope-pushing, equally offensive to every race, and surprisingly insightful.
Much of that talent was on display in his HBO show, including actual stand-up bits crystallized into sketch form. The major difference between the material in his stand-up and the material on these discs is that The Chris Rock Show aimed less for social commentary (for which his comedy is renowned) and more for straight-out laughs.
For example, Volume One features such sketches as "When Animals Attack," showing bears involved in hit-and-run accidents then dashing into a house and trying to hide as rug and "Damn Fools," which details the exploits of idiots and their fates (a decapitated head and sewer rat are interviewed among others). On Volume Two you'll find "Daddy Still Has a Flattop," an after-school special chronicling the trials of being the son of a man way out of fashion, and "Halle Berry 911," which has the Oscar-winner running people over in her SUV.
These types of bits are played simply for getting laughs, and no joke is too cheap. Bu they, that's fine, they're funny.
Rock isn't afraid to mix up the racial pot either, taking to the streets of a white neighborhood to petition for a street to be named Tupac Shakur Boulevard or going to Harlem and examining the influence of Tiger Woods, seeing if golf has taken at all in the ghetto. As is with his comedy, both blacks and whites get the treatment (e.g., "Nigga Please" cereal and "The Next Great White Hope?"), making The Chris Rock Show an equal-opportunity harpooner.
One of Rock's favorite bits is the "man on the street" routine, where he takes his microphone and challenges normal folks with the craziest things. The "Confederate Flag Survey" gives some Southerners the opportunity to craft an alternate flag for their statehouse (the winner: "Stars of the UPN Flag"); "Free Bobby Brown" has Rock leading a candlelight vigil outside of Bobby Brown's latest incarceration facility; and in "Princess Di" he heads to black New York City neighborhoods to gauge the grief of Princess Di's recent passing. Lots of good stuff results.
Finally, you get a crapload of Rock's vaunted "Taxi Driver Confessions," a parody of the popular-at-the-time HBO show Taxi Cab Confessions. Here, Rock disguises himself as a NYC cabbie and dicks around with his fares, to a hidden camera. Volume One includes two installments, but Volume Two is loaded with a supplemental 13 episodes.
Yes, this show is a little dated, and some of the comedy is time-specific—a lot of jokes about Clinton-Lewinsky for example—but Rock's trademark wit is in full-force. Not all the sketches are homeruns, but there's enough thoroughly funny stuff for me to recommend this set, as a huge Chris Rock fan and as a dude that likes watching things that make me laugh to myself.
Both discs are standard full screen, 2.0 stereo treatments, which is completely adequate for the show. There are no extras for any disc, unless you count "Taxi Driver Confessions" on Volume Two as bonus materials.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Chris Rock is a god on the stage. But there is no doubt he often struggles as an actor. The Chris Rock Show reveals Rock's limitations as a performer, and he often seems uncomfortable in a few of his live segments.
If you find this set cheap enough, and don't own either disc, I'd say pick this up. There's a great cross-section of hilarity, which should appeal to Rock's dedicated followers as well as fans of solid sketch comedy.
HBO is fined for double-dipping with nothing extra to show for its effort, but Rock and his pals are free to go. Court adjourned.
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Scales of Justice
• "Taxi Driver Confessions"
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