Chris Rock Tackles Race, Politics And Comedy Censorship In ‘New York Magazine’

Chris Rock’s latest interview with New York Magazine finds the comedian chiming in on everything around him. From criticism of his own work, to his fellow comedians, to race relations, to President Obama to gay rights, Rock’s worldview is on full display in the lengthy sit-down. Tackling the censorship of comedy and the idea of “progress” for black Americans, the conversation almost reads like a transcript of his onstage bits.

Take a tour inside the mind of Chris Rock with these excerpts from his interview below:

On the criticism of his Saturday Night Live monologue:
I mean, you don’t want to piss off the people that are paying you, obviously, but otherwise I’ve just been really good at ignoring it. Honestly, it’s not that people were offended by what I said. They get offended by how much fun I appear to be having while saying it. You could literally take everything I said on Saturday night and say it on Meet the Press, and it would be a general debate, and it would go away. But half of it’s because they think they can hurt comedians.

On Bill Cosby:
I don’t know what to say. What do you say? I hope it’s not true. That’s all you can say. I really do. I grew up on Cosby. I love Cosby, and I just hope it’s not true. It’s a weird year for comedy. We lost Robin, we lost Joan, and we kind of lost Cosby.

On Robin Williams:
Comedians kill themselves. Talk to 100 comedians this week, everybody knows somebody who killed themselves. I mean, we always say ignorance is bliss. Well, if so, what’s the opposite? Some form of misery. Being a comedian, 80 percent of the job is just you notice shit, which is a trait of schizophrenics too. You notice things people don’t notice.

On disapproval of President Obama:
I’m trying to figure out the right analogy. Everybody wanted Michael Jordan, right? We got Shaq. That’s not a disappointment. You know what I mean? We got Charles Barkley. It’s still a Hall of Fame career. The president should be graded on jobs and peace, and the other stuff is debatable. Do more people have jobs, and is there more peace? I guess there’s a little more peace. Not as much peace as we’d like, but I mean, that’s kind of the gig. I don’t recall anybody leaving on an up. It’s just that kind of job. I mean, the liberals that are against him feel let down because he’s not Bush. And the thing about George Bush is that the kid revolutionized the presidency. How? He was the first president who only served the people who voted for him. He literally operated like a cable network. You know what I mean?

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On President Bush vs. President Obama:
There’s an advantage that Bush had that Obama doesn’t have. People thinking you’re dumb is an advantage. Obama started as a genius. It’s like,What? I’ve got to keep doing that? That’s hard to do! So it’s not that Obama’s disappointing. It’s just his best album might have been his first album.

On the idea of “progress” for black people:
So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

On the impending reception of his Top Five film:
I mean, you care, but suppose, what, the movie makes a billion dollars? It’s not going to affect my day with my kids. If it makes two cents, it’s not going to affect my day with my kids. Fine, the movie comes out Friday, Saturday I will take Zahra to gymnastics. I hope Annie’s out. We’ll go see Annie.

Read the full interview here.