V Exclusive! Chris Rock’s ‘School of Rock’ Interview (PG.2)
So when I read that part, I was like, “I’ll do that.” I’m hands-on with my own kids anyway. I do the job.
So does J-Lo being picked for this role have anything to do with the fact that she’s a new mother?
I don’t know. I didn’t write this one. They told me she was on it. I was like, “Oh, that’s great.” You know. She’s hot. So it’s like LeBron. You want to play with good players.
What about ﬁlms you’re working on from a producer/ writer standpoint?
I got this movie about this Black family going on a ski trip. I’m trying to get that ready soon, because you can only ﬁlm it in the winter.
Is it a ﬁsh-out-of-water story?
We’re still working on it. I don’t feel like doing a movie that would be the Hollywood version of Black people skiing. A brother going down the mountain with bacon strips on his sneakers.
So you mentioned that you were hands-on with your daughters. And you really are, aren’t you? Isn’t that anti-celebrity?
You’ve heard the stories. I’m not the only one. Me and Adam Sandler. Sandler takes his kids places. We go out with the kids.
So no nanny when you guys go out? No help?
My kids are 7 and 9, come on. Do I really need somebody? At 7 and 9? We just hang out. Hey, the other day we went to Central Park. We went to Gray’s Papaya and got some hot dogs, saw the Judy Moody movie. Took them to Sylvia’s [restaurant]. They love Sylvia’s.
Do they eat soul food at home?
No. My wife cooks very healthy. But I’m kinda a ﬁsh sandwich type of brother. I like my soul food. So we go to Sylvia’s.
It must have been hard being on Broadway six days a week. Did it cut into your family time?
When I do something big, it runs the household. So I gotta give my kids a break from me having a big project to do.
Your Broadway show, The Motherfucker With the Hat, what was it like, and why did you decide to go that route?
It was great. [The show] got extended. It’s been an amazing experience. I decided to do it because I just wanted to say that I did everything. That I made the most of the opportunity that I have in front of me, just being who I am. I just want more people to see me act, like really act. Sometimes when you do comedy, that can be a little formulaic, and it’s hard for really good directors to see that you can act. Like you can really, really convey emotion. And people come out and see you in the theater, and they’re like, “Oh, this guy can really do it.” I deﬁnitely will do it again.
Broadway is the place where you can spot celebs in the audience on any given night. Who came by to see your show?
Tarantino, Scorcese, Puffy, Kanye, Jay-Z, Steve Martin. Every big director. They all come out when I do stand-up. I just feel supported. I feel like I’m a member of this acting community. Maybe I didn’t feel that before. I just felt like a comic. But now I feel like a real member of the acting and theater community.
It sounds hectic, though. Six days a week?
It is hectic. But not more hectic than going on tour. ’Cause on tour you gotta be in different cities every night. While I was on Broadway, I could still get the kids ready for school. I could pick the kids up from school. I didn’t have to be in the city until 7:15 p.m. I could take them to their activities and you could still kinda have a life. When you’re on tour, [you can’t].
Funny story about you on tour: I met this guy who said he broke up with his girlfriend after seeing one of your shows. He said some of the things you said were just too real. What’s your response to that, and does it surprise you that you have that type of power?
I think they were in trouble before that. I’m not gonna sit here and take credit. And maybe he’s happy now. I’m sorry.
How do you prepare for your stand-up routine? Obviously, you pull from your own life experiences. But how does the writing process work?
All I’m trying to do is make people laugh. That’s it. There’s no other plan from it. But at the same time, I gotta talk about stuff that interests me, so I’m not on tour bored. So every time I do it, I’m really into it. It’s important that I ﬁnd topics that a) interest me, and b) that other comedians aren’t really touching. You try to do the same thing as everybody, but you’re just trying to do it a little deeper.
So you study the game before you go on tour?
I try to keep up with whoever everybody’s into. Just so you know what’s going on. It’s weird. You’re always gonna be inﬂuenced by whatever art you are taking in at the time. So basically whatever books you are reading, whatever movies you are seeing, whatever music you are listening to, all those things will affect you just as much as watching another stand-up. And when I’m doing stand-up, I try to listen to better music. Maybe I’ll be on some Mos Def shit, I won’t put on that Three 6 Maﬁa CD. Soulja Boy is not gonna be in my head. I need real substantive art to make sense.
What other comedians do you watch?
Kevin Hart’s funny. I think he’s real funny. Hannibal Buress. My brother Tony Rock is funny. There’s some cats out there keeping hope alive. And then there’s the old reliable. Tommy Davidson is a hell of a comedian. D-Ray is real funny. Joe Torry. Steve Harvey.
The stand-up. Steve Harvey throws down. He wears lots of hats. He has the radio hat, the book hat, the award show hat. He shows the young and old comics that you have a ton of options. When I watch Steve Harvey, I’m like, “Oh really, I could host a game show? Ohh, you could write a real book, you don’t have to write a joke book.”