Chris Rock

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For the English comedienne, see Crissy Rock.
Chris Rock
Chris Rock WE 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Rock at the 2012 premiere of What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Birth name Christopher Julius Rock III
Born (1965-02-07) February 7, 1965 (age 49)
Andrews, South Carolina, U.S.
Medium comedy, television, film
Nationality American
Years active 1984–present
Genres Black humor, musical comedy, observational comedy, political satire, satire
Subject(s) African-American culture, American politics, current events, human sexuality, marriage, pop culture, race relations, racism
Influences Bill Cosby, Redd Foxx, Dick Gregory, Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Pigmeat Markham, Woody Allen, Eddie Murphy,[1] Sam Kinison, George Carlin, Mort Sahl,[2] Rodney Dangerfield,[3]
Influenced Dave Chappelle,[2] Christian Finnegan,[4] George Lopez[5]
Spouse Malaak Compton-Rock (November 23, 1996 – present; 2 children)
Website ChrisRock.com
Emmy Awards
Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program
1997 Chris Rock: Bring the Pain
1999 The Chris Rock Show
Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special
1997 Chris Rock: Bring the Pain
Outstanding Writing For Variety, Music or Comedy Special
2009 Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger
Grammy Awards
Best Spoken Comedy Album
1998 Roll with the New
2000 Bigger & Blacker
Best Comedy Album
2006 Never Scared
American Comedy Awards
Funniest Male Performer in a TV Special
2000 Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker

Christopher Julius "Chris" Rock III[6] (born February 7, 1965)[7][8] is an American comedian, actor, screenwriter, television producer, film producer, and director.

After working as a standup comic and appearing in small film roles, Rock came to wider prominence as a cast member of Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s. He went on to more prominent film roles, and a series of acclaimed comedy specials for HBO.

He was voted as the fifth greatest stand-up comedian of all time by Comedy Central.[9] He was also voted in the United Kingdom as the ninth greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups in 2007, and again in the updated 2010 list as the eighth greatest stand-up comic.

Early life and education

Rock was born in Andrews, South Carolina. Shortly after his birth, his parents moved to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. A few years later, they relocated and settled in the working-class area of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.[6] His mother, Rosalie (née Tingman), was a teacher and social worker for the mentally handicapped; his father, Julius Rock, was a former truck driver and newspaper deliveryman.[10] Julius died in 1988 after ulcer surgery.[11] Chris's younger brothers Tony, Kenny[12] and Jordan[13] are also in the entertainment business. His older half-brother, Charles, died in 2006 after a long struggle with alcoholism.[14][15] Rock has said that he was influenced by the performing style of his paternal grandfather, Allen Rock, a preacher.[6][16]

Rock was bussed to schools in predominately white neighborhoods of Brooklyn, where he endured bullying and beatings from white students.[17][18][19] As he got older, the bullying became worse and Rock’s parents pulled him out of James Madison High School.[19] He decided to drop out of high school altogether and later received a GED. Rock worked menial jobs at various fast-food restaurants.[17][18]

Career

Rock began doing stand-up comedy in 1984 in New York City’s Catch a Rising Star.[6][17] He slowly rose up the ranks of the comedy circuit in addition to earning bit roles in the film I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and the TV series Miami Vice. Upon seeing his act at a nightclub, Eddie Murphy befriended and mentored the aspiring comic. Murphy gave Rock his first film role in Beverly Hills Cop II.

Saturday Night Live

Rock became a cast member of the popular sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live in 1990. He and other new cast members Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and David Spade became known as the Bad Boys of SNL.[citation needed] In 1991, he released his first comedy album, Born Suspect and won acclaim for his dramatic role as a crack addict in the film New Jack City. His tenure on SNL gave Rock national exposure.

Standup success

A frustrated Rock left Saturday Night Live in 1993, appearing instead as a special guest star on the predominantly African-American sketch show In Living Color. The show, however, was cancelled months later. Rock then decided to concentrate on a film career. He wrote and starred in the mockumentary CB4 but the film was not a success. Acting jobs became scarce, and Rock abandoned Hollywood to concentrate on stand-up comedy.[16]

Rock starred in his first HBO comedy special in 1994 titled Big Ass Jokes. But it was his second stand-up special, 1996’s Bring the Pain, that reinvented Rock as one of the best comedians in the industry.[20][21] For it Rock won two Emmy Awards and gained large critical acclaim.[22] The segment on race in America, in which Rock used the “N word” extensively was most talked about.[22] Adding to his popularity was his much-publicized role as a commentator for Comedy Central's Politically Incorrect during the 1996 Presidential elections[20] which earned him another Emmy nomination.[23] Rock also was the voice for the "Lil Penny" puppet who was the alter ego to basketball star Penny Hardaway in a series of Nike shoe commercials from 1994–1998,[20] and hosted the '97 MTV Video Music Awards.

Rock later had two more HBO comedy specials: Bigger & Blacker in 1999, and Never Scared in 2004. Articles relating to both specials called Rock “the funniest man in America” in Time[24] and Entertainment Weekly.[2] HBO also aired his talk show, The Chris Rock Show, which gained critical acclaim for Rock's interviews with celebrities and politicians. The show won an Emmy for writing. His television work has won him a total of three Emmy Awards and 15 nominations.[23] By the end of the decade, Rock was established as one of the preeminent stand-up comedians and comic minds of his generation.

During this time, Rock also translated his comedy into print form in the book Rock This! and released the Grammy Award-winning comedy albums, Roll with the New, Bigger & Blacker and Never Scared.

Rock's fifth HBO special, Kill the Messenger, premiered on September 27, 2008, and won him another Emmy for outstanding writing for a variety or music program.[25]

Film star

Rock at the Israeli premiere of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, on November 22, 2008.

It was not until the success of his stand-up act in the late 1990s that Rock began receiving major parts in films. Though he started off with supporting roles in films such as Dogma, Beverly Hills Ninja, Lethal Weapon 4, and Nurse Betty, he went on to star in films like The Longest Yard, Bad Company, and Down to Earth. Some of his 2010s film appearances include Death at a Funeral, Grown Ups, and 2 Days in New York.

Rock has also increasingly worked behind the camera, both as a writer and director of Head of State and I Think I Love My Wife (both in which he played the lead role). Additionally, he has done voice work for the popular Madagascar animated film franchise.

Following the release of his first documentary, 2009's Good Hair, Rock is working on a documentary about debt called Credit Is the Devil.[26]

Television producer

In the fall of 2005, the UPN television network premiered a comedy series called Everybody Hates Chris, based on Rock's school days, of which he is the executive producer and narrator. The show has garnered both critical and ratings success.[27] The series was nominated for a 2006 Golden Globe for Best TV Series (Musical or Comedy), a 2006 People's Choice Award for Favorite New Television Comedy, and two 2006 Emmy Awards for costuming and cinematography.[28] More recently, he produced the series Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, which premiered in August 2012.

Academy Awards

In early 2005, Rock hosted the 77th Academy Awards ceremony. The decision to have Rock host the awards was seen by some as a chance to bring an "edge" to the ceremony, and to make it more relevant or appealing to younger audiences. Jokingly, Rock opened by saying "Welcome to the 77th and LAST Academy Awards!" During one segment Rock asked, "Who is this guy?" in reference to actor Jude Law seemingly appearing in every movie Rock had seen that year and implied Law was a low-rent Tom Cruise (he made a joke about filmmakers rushing production when unable to get the actors they want: "If you want Tom Cruise and all you can get is Jude Law, wait [to make the film]!"). Subsequently, a defensive Sean Penn took the stage to present and said, "In answer to our host's question, Jude Law is one of our finest young actors." (At the time, Penn and Law were shooting All the King's Men.) Law was not the only actor that Rock poked fun at that evening, however—he turned the joke on himself at one point, saying, "If you want Denzel [Washington] and all you can get is me, wait!" Older Oscar officials were reportedly displeased with Rock's performance, which did not elevate ratings for the ceremony.[29] Rock was also criticized for referring to the Oscars as "idiotic", and asserting that heterosexual men do not watch them, in an interview prior to Oscar night.[30][31]

Music videos

Rock's first music video was for his song "Your Mother's Got a Big Head" from his album Born Suspect. Rock also made videos for his songs "Champagne" from Roll With the New and "No Sex (In the Champagne Room)" from Bigger & Blacker. Chris Rock also directed and appeared in the music video for the Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Hump de Bump".

Rock appeared in the Big Daddy Kane music video "Smooth Operator" as a guy getting his hair cut.

He also appeared in Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down," one of the many celebrities seen lip-synching the song.

Stage plays

In 2011, Rock appeared on Broadway in Stephen Adly Guirgis' play The Motherfucker with the Hat[32] with Bobby Cannavale and Annabella Sciorra.[32] Rock was nominated for a Drama League Award.

Comedic style and views

Rock's subject matter typically involves family, politics, romance, music, class relationships, and race relations in the United States. Though not strictly autobiographical, much of his comic standpoint seem rooted in his teenage experience; his strict parents, concerned about the inadequacies of the local school system, arranged to have the adolescent Rock bused to a nearly all-white high school in Bensonhurst (an Italian-ethnic neighborhood of Brooklyn known at the time for poor race relations). In his memoir Rock This, the comedian recalls, "My parents assumed I'd get a better education in a better neighborhood. What I actually got was a worse education in a worse neighborhood. And a whole bunch of ass-whippings."[33]

The comedian has also expressed discomfort with the notion that success in standup comedy—or, indeed, in any aspect of the entertainment industry—should oblige him to serve as a role model. In this position, he finds himself directly at odds with one of his comic idols, Bill Cosby. Cosby has reprimanded Rock both explicitly—for his famous/notorious Niggas vs. Black People track—and implicitly, for heavy use of the word "nigger."[34] Rock has not wavered from a position explored in his 1996 Roll With The New show, and reiterated in his 1997 memoir: "Why does the public expect entertainers to behave better than everybody else? It's ridiculous...Of course, this is just for black entertainers. You don't see anyone telling Jerry Seinfeld he's a good role model. Because everyone expects whites to behave themselves...Nowadays, you've got to be an entertainer and a leader. It's too much."[35] Often the subject of tabloids, when asked about paparazzi and the other negative aspects of fame, Rock says he accepts the bad with the good: "You can't be happy that fire cooks your food and be mad it burns your fingertips."[36]

At the London Live Earth concert on July 7, 2007, which was broadcast live on the BBC, before introducing the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rock called the crowd "motherfuckers" and "shit" after a brief sigh when he said he was joking. Due to the broadcast being at 5:45 pm Rock was immediately cut off, and the BBC made several apologies for his use of the word "motherfucker."[37]

Chris Rock has been an avid fan of the New York Mets baseball team since childhood. He famously complained that his team "had no money" in a comedic rant during a 2011 interview with David Letterman.[38]

Personal life

Rock has been married to Malaak Compton-Rock since November 23, 1996.[39] She is the founder and executive director of StyleWorks, a non-profit, full-service salon that provides free services for women leaving welfare and entering the workforce.[39] They live in Alpine, New Jersey and have two daughters together, Lola Simone (born 2002) and Zahra Savannah (born 2004).[40]

In November 2006, the entertainment news website TMZ.com reported that Rock was filing for divorce after nearly ten years of marriage to Malaak.[41] Two weeks later, however, TMZ reported that Rock had not filed divorce papers, and that it appeared that the couple had been able to work out their differences and stay together.[42] In response to the reports, the Rocks released a statement to the press denouncing them as "untrue rumors and lies".[39]

In 2007, freelance journalist and former actress Kali Bowyer filed a paternity suit against Chris Rock, claiming he was the father of her son, and in need of hospitalization.[43] DNA testing proved that Rock was not the child's father.[44][dead link]

Rock resides in Alpine, New Jersey.[45]

In 2008, Rock's family history was profiled on the PBS series African American Lives 2. A DNA test showed that he is descended from the Udeme people of northern Cameroon.[46] Rock's great-great-grandfather, Julius Caesar Tingman, was a slave for 21 years before serving as part of the United States Colored Troops until 1866; Tingman fought in the American Civil War. During the 1940s, Rock's paternal grandfather moved from South Carolina to New York City to become a taxicab driver and preacher.[47]

Work

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1985 Krush Groove Person Standing Next to Phone During Fight in Club uncredited
1987 Beverly Hills Cop II Playboy Mansion Valet
1988 Comedy's Dirtiest Dozen Himself Direct-to-video Concert film
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Rib Joint Customer
1989 Who Is Chris Rock? Himself Documentary Short
1991 New Jack City Pookie
1992 Boomerang Bony T
1993 CB4 Albert Brown/M.C. Gusto Also wrote story, screenplay and was co-producer
1995 The Immortals Deke Anthony
1995 Panther Yuck Mouth
1996 Sgt. Bilko 1st Lt. Oster
1997 Beverly Hills Ninja Joey Washington
1998 Dr. Dolittle Rodney Voice
Lethal Weapon 4 Detective Lee Butters
1999 Torrance Rises Himself Documentary short
Dogma Rufus
2000 Nurse Betty Wesley
2001 Down to Earth Lance Barton Also co-writer and executive producer
2001 AI: Artificial Intelligence Mecha Comedian Voice/cameo
Pootie Tang JB/Radio DJ/Pootie's Father Also producer
Osmosis Jones Osmosis Jones Voice
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Chaka Luther King Cameo
2002 Bad Company Jake Hayes/Kevin Pope/Michael Turner
Comedian Himself Documentary
2003 Pauly Shore Is Dead Himself Cameo
Head of State Mays Gilliam Also director, producer and co-writer
2004 The N-Word Himself Documentary
Paparazzi Pizza Delivery Guy Cameo
2005 The Aristocrats Himself Documentary
Madagascar Marty Voice
The Longest Yard Farrell Caretaker
2007 I Think I Love My Wife Richard Marcus Cooper Also director and co-writer
Bee Movie Mooseblood the Mosquito Voice
2008 You Don't Mess with the Zohan Taxi Driver Cameo
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Marty and other zebras Voice
2009 Good Hair Himself Documentary
2010 Death at a Funeral Aaron Also producer, Remake of the 2007 film of the same name
Grown Ups Kurt McKenzie
2012 2 Days in New York Mingus
What to Expect When You're Expecting Vic
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Marty Voice
Nominated-Teen Choice Award for Choice Voice
2013 Madly Madagascar Marty Voice Role
Grown Ups 2 Kurt McKenzie
2014 Finally Famous Andre Allen Filming, Director and writer
2015 The Penguins of Madagascar Marty Filming

Discography

Year Album Peak positions Certifications
U.S. U.S.
R&B
1991 Born Suspect
1997 Roll with the New 93 41
1999 Bigger & Blacker 44 26
2005 Never Scared

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1987 Uptown Comedy Express Himself HBO special
1987 Miami Vice Carson Episode: "Missing Hours"
1990–1993 Saturday Night Live Various Cast member
1993–1994 In Living Color Various Recurring
1994 Big Ass Jokes Himself HBO special
1995 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Maurice/Jasmine Episode: "Get a Job"
1996–1998 The Moxy Show Flea Uncredited voice role
1996 Martin Valentino Episode: "The Love Jones Connection"
1996 Homicide: Life on the Street Carver Episode: "Requiem for Adena"
1996 Bring the Pain Himself HBO special
1996 Politically Incorrect Himself Correspondent
1997 1997 MTV Video Music Awards Host TV special
1997–2000 The Chris Rock Show Himself Cast member, writer
1998 King of the Hill Roger "Booda" Sack Episode: "Traffic Jam"
1999 1999 MTV Video Music Awards Host TV special
2000 Bigger & Blacker Himself HBO special
2003 2003 MTV Video Music Awards Host TV special
2004 Never Scared Himself HBO special
2005 77th Academy Awards Host TV special
2005–2009 Everybody Hates Chris Narrator/Mr. Abbott Creator/Narrator/Chris' guidance counselor
2008 Kill the Messenger Himself HBO special
2010 The Graham Norton Show Himself/Guest Series 7, Episode 8
2011–2012 Louie Himself 2 Episodes
2012 Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell Executive producer
2012 Tosh.0 Himself 1 Episode
2013 A.N.T. Farm Himself Season 3, Episode: "animal husbANTry"

Internet

Year Title Role Notes
2012 The Annoying Orange Marty Episode: Big Top Orange
cameo appearance
guest star
2012 Rap Battle Parody Tremendous Repeat Episode: 4

Stage

Books

References

  1. ^ Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (TV). HBO. 1996. [page needed]
  2. ^ a b c Wolk, Josh (March 19, 2004). "Chris Rock On Fire". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 13, 2007. 
  3. ^ Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Season 14. January 11, 2008. BBC One. part 2
  4. ^ Weiss, Rebecca (April 27, 2007). "Christian Finnegan Chats". The Cornell Daily Sun. Retrieved October 15, 2007. 
  5. ^ "George Lopez at MySpace". Retrieved October 12, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Chris Rock". Inside the Actors Studio. Season 13. Episode 6. March 13, 2007. Bravo.
  7. ^ "Chris Rock: Biography". Yahoo! Movies. 
  8. ^ Note: Reliable sources differ on his year of birth. In his book, Rock This!, Rock gives his birth date as February 7, 1966. But Rock stated he was 42 years old on his February 28, 2007, appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  9. ^ "Stand Up Comedy & Comedians". comedy-zone.net. Retrieved August 10, 2006. 
  10. ^ Cindy Pearlman (January 29, 2001). "Rolling Rock: Chris Rock Hits His Hollywood Stride". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 14, 2007. Retrieved June 17, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Chris Rock Biography". Yahoo!. 
  12. ^ Kenny Rock at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ "Jordan Rock: JayRockStar619's Channel". YouTube. August 31, 2006. Retrieved June 17, 2010. 
  14. ^ World Entertainment News Network (October 4, 2007). "Chris Rock Feels He 'Failed' Deceased Brother". Starpulse.com. Retrieved September 11, 2008. 
  15. ^ Oppenheim, Gabe (October 9, 2008). "Tony Rock, Standing Up To His Name". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 17, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b Bennun, David (2000). "Chris Rock". Retrieved October 20, 2007. 
  17. ^ a b c Chappell, Kevin (October 1999). "Bigger, Better, And Hotter! Chris Rock Talks About Fame, Controversy And The Challenge Of Being No. 1". Ebony. Retrieved June 9, 2010. 
  18. ^ a b "Chris Rock Discusses 'Down to Earth'". Larry King Live (CNN). February 12, 2001. Retrieved June 9, 2010. 
  19. ^ a b Gallahue, Patrick (June 18, 2005). "Chris Rock Gets Show Based on Childhood". New York Post. Retrieved June 13, 2010. 
  20. ^ a b c Chappell, Kevin (May 1997). "Chris Rock: hot comic is on the roll of his life". Ebony. Retrieved October 20, 2007. 
  21. ^ AllMovie.com review
  22. ^ a b Sweeney, Kathy (June 1, 2001). "Chris Rock: The funniest man in America?". The Guardian (London). Retrieved October 20, 2007. 
  23. ^ a b Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (1996) (TV) – Awards
  24. ^ Handy, Bruce (2001). "America's Best Artist's and Entertainers". Time. Archived from the original on October 10, 2007. Retrieved October 20, 2007. 
  25. ^ Sample, Kristin (July 10, 2008). "Chris Rock to do his fifth HBO special in September – TCA Report". TVSquad.com. Retrieved July 25, 2008. 
  26. ^ Furey, Phil (April 16, 2010). "Chris Rock sets comic sights on devilish credit". Reuters. Retrieved May 10, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Icon Chris Rock". Maxim. April 2007. 
  28. ^ Awards page for Everybody Hates Chris at imdb.com
  29. ^ "Chris Rock effect fails to boost Oscars"; The Guardian Unlimited; March 2, 2005
  30. ^ Lundegaard, Erik; "Hey, Chris Rock: Shut the [bleep] up: A film critic takes the Oscar host to task for his film criticism"; MSNBC; February 3, 2005
  31. ^ "Chris Rock, Oscars host, slams Oscars"; Sydney Morning Herald/Reuters; February 16, 2005
  32. ^ a b Healy, Patrick. "Chris Rock Takes On Broadway in ‘Hat’", The New York Times blog, October 22, 2010.
  33. ^ Rock, Chris. Rock This Hyperion, 1997, p. 46. "I got bused from Bed-Stuy to a white school in a poor white neighborhood: Gerretson Beach, Brooklyn... What I actually got was a worse education in a worse neighborhood..."
  34. ^ Morano, Marc. CNSNews. "Bill Cosby to Blacks," July 2, 2004. "When you put on a record, and that record is yelling 'nigger this' and 'nigger that' and cursing all over the thing and you got your little six-year-old and seven-year-old sitting in the back seat of the car—those children hear that... That's all minstrel show stuff. I am tired of it."
  35. ^ Rock, Chris. Rock This; Hyperion, 1997, p. 16.
  36. ^ "Everybody Loves Chris". 
  37. ^ "Chris Rock defends Live Earth swearing: Comic is critical of climate change show despite being host"; nme.com; July 7, 2007.
  38. ^ Klopman, Michael (April 1, 2011). "Chris Rock Complains About The Mets On Letterman (VIDEO)". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 25, 2012. 
  39. ^ a b c Dagostino, Mark (March 1, 2007). "Chris Rock, Wife Say Their Marriage Is Solid". People. Retrieved August 19, 2008. 
  40. ^ "Chris Rock Biography". Yahoo! Movies. 
  41. ^ "Chris Rock Files for Divorce". TMZ.com. November 3, 2006. 
  42. ^ "Everybody Hates Divorce – Rock Split on Hold". TMZ.com. November 17, 2006. Retrieved August 19, 2008. 
  43. ^ Paternity Papers Against Comedian/Actor Chris Rock Filed In Bulloch Court
  44. ^ Associated Press. "DNA test clears Chris Rock in paternity case, lawyer says", CNN.com, August 7, 2007.
  45. ^ Century, Douglas (February 11, 2007). "Alpine, N.J., Home of Hip-Hop Royalty". The New York Times. Retrieved October 16, 2007. 
  46. ^ Goffe, Leslie. "Americans seek their African roots", BBC, June 29, 2009.
  47. ^ "Chris Rock". African American Lives 2. PBS. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 

External links

Preceded by
Dennis Miller
Ben Stiller
Jimmy Fallon
MTV Video Music Awards host
1997
1999
2003
Succeeded by
Ben Stiller
Marlon Wayans and Shawn Wayans
no host