V Exclusive! Chris Rock’s ‘School of Rock’ Interview
FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER HIS COMEDIC BREAKTHROUGH, CHRIS ROCK IS STILL BRINGING THE PAIN.
THE FEARLESS FUNNYMAN, ACTOR AND PRODUCER TIRELESSLY RUNS AROUND HOLLYWOOD—YET STILL FINDS TIME TO APPRECIATE KANYE WEST’S REUPHOLSTERING SKILLS. HOW DOES HE BALANCE ALL THAT WITH RAISING A NORMAL FAMILY? CHANGING DIRTY DIAPERS WAS A START .–KIM OSORIO & MARK MANN
EVERYTHING ISN’T FUNNY. But Chris Rock can ﬁnd humor in just about anything. Fifteen years after his breakthrough HBO special Bring the Pain, Rock remains the kind of comedian whose routines have enough range to touch grandmas and grumpy old men. But what he’s really doing is less about making you laugh at him, and more about making you laugh at yourself. Call it mind-tickling.
Rock has been tickling our minds for years. Be it onstage or on ﬁlm, CR has taken your truth—your relationship, your politics, your life—and turned it into his material. Without a PC bone in his slinky frame, he’s still that social assassin telling it like it is for your betterment. Because that’s what family does.
But while he’s cracking you up with his spin on reality, the 46-year-old is also turning his own life into entertainment for everybody. Whether he’s star- ring on Broadway (The Motherfucker With the Hat), producing a documentary that encourages women to chill with the hair relaxers (Good Hair) or acting in a ﬁ lm that pokes fun at parenthood (Grown Ups), Chris Rock has taken his experiences as a Black man and made them funny enough for everyone to laugh at.
VIBE: We had to aggressively seek you out for this Hollywood issue. Thanks for agreeing to do the interview.
CHRIS ROCK: Is this the VIBE Hollywood issue? Is it me and Boris Kodjoe? I’m sure he’s in the VIBE Hollywood issue. It’s VIBE! Some of your usual suspects. They’ll be Nia Long. Tyler Perry—that goes without saying—and his cast of characters. Tasha Smith. There’s got to be a Tasha Smith piece in there. Tasha Smith has been in more movies probably in the last ﬁve years than Meryl Streep! She’s hot. I’m cool with her. I’ve known her forever. But I didn’t see Jumping the Broom yet. Or “Boiling the Grits,” but I’m planning on it. People like it. I’ve heard good things.
The last time you appeared on the cover of VIBE (November 1999) you were running for president. In your 2003 ﬁlm Head of State, you actually ran for president. Years later the idea of a Black president is no joke. How do you rate the Obama presidency so far?
He’s doing all right. I’m glad I got to see it.
What about those unemployment numbers?
There’s a lot of great things about the Internet, but the Internet was also like a tsunami that totally wiped out a lot of jobs. And you know that’s not his fault. Like, I was actually born in South Carolina. In Georgetown, S.C., the number one business was the paper. Now Georgetown is a ghost town. So many things are just gone because of the Internet. Some of these jobs ain’t comin’ back. People are going to have to learn new skills.
With wars overseas and the economy at home messed up, it’s a hell of a time to run the country.
I hope there’s a second term. I think you know the change people want honestly can only be made from a power position. And the most powerful position is knowing that you can’t run again. And you can kinda do what you want.
Switching topics, what movies have you seen lately?
I liked Bridesmaids. It was really good. It kinda felt like a female Hangover. [It was] easily the funniest movie of the summer. Oh, and I saw X-Men.
Do you actually go to the theater to see the movies or do they send the movies to your house?
I’m really normal. I don’t have a lot of minions. I go in the daytime. I try not to go at night. I get the kids off to school and then go to the movies. They have 10 a.m. [showings] on a weekday. It’s like me and some soccer moms.
So let’s talk about the movies that you’re making. Are you working on anything?
Right now, I’m working on a movie, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It stars J-Lo. Is that based on the books? It’s kinda based on the title of the books.
What made you decide to do it?
I read the script, and the script was good. The part was good. I’m a guy in the movie, a single father that’s actually into it. It’s like, I hate movies where guys, they see a diaper and they start crying and, you know, they get the baby’s milk all over them. The stumbling-dad movies. I hate them.