Thursday, February 23, 2017

Chris Rock is Baaaaaaack!

Someone tell F. Scott Fitzgerald to STFU because Chris Rock is having a second act better than his first, and I didn't think it was possible to top Never Scared (2004).  Last I heard, Rock was married, bored, and out of the limelight.  Turns out he's divorced after a costly custodial dispute and ready to roll--even on Tinder's dating app under his real name.

I doubled over in laughter so many times, I can't remember most of the jokes. You might argue George Carlin also had a second act and got better, but his first act wasn't very funny. To go from being one of the funniest and edgiest comedians in America to even funnier over a decade later is incredible. Richard Pryor burned out. Eddie Murphy started making really bad movies. I don't know what happened to Carlos Mencia. Russell Peters might still be around ten years from now, but he won't ever be edgy. Here are a few takeaways from Rock's new tour, "Total Blackout."

1.  Rock has always had a realism and common sense to his material no one else could manage.  Some of it obviously comes from being a unathletic African-American growing up among different races, including the ill-advised school busing programs meant to reduce segregation.  And yet, Rock, even in his 50s, manages to be edgy and real.

He laments America's apathy to mass shootings but owns a gun himself.  He chastises police shootings against African-Americans while explaining his own interest in the issue: "Yeah, I'm famous, but only from 3 feet away.  Until then..."

One of his best skits involves him imitating the mother of an affluent white child shot by police.  I'm not going to spoil it for you, but I, too, demand justice for Chad. #justiceforchad

One suggestion, if I may: to make the skit airtight, use the word, "unarmed," as in, "unarmed black kids."  Statistics show that unarmed black kids are far more likely to be shot by police than unarmed white kids, but without the qualifier, the data is more murky.

2.  I love Chris Rock's comedy so much because he hits the nail on the head on economic issues.  Growing up poor--at least for some kids--forces some understanding of economics. (Rock dropped out of school in the 10th grade and washed dishes for a while.)  His joke about buying bullets on layaway is still hilarious years later, and he once again tells an economic truth when he remarks, "Prices are the new racism."  He even makes the skit perfect by including white people towards the end.  Once again, I won't spoil the bit for you, but I hope he adds a line about college tuition.  My California-based law school--part of a Jesuit institution--now charges 55,000 USD a year in tuition.  I won't even bother looking up enrollment stats when it comes to African-American enrollment except to say I'm willing to bet Georgia and Texas--both conservative states--do a better job educating African-Americans than liberal California in 2017.

3.  Rock is actually pro-good-police if you're listening hard enough.  He did the famous skit, "How Not to Get your A** Kicked by the Police" and makes an interesting point when he says, "The average starting pay for police officers in America is too low--30,000 dollars a year... You get what you pay for."

I agree, and it's one reason I'm against government pensions with ROIs above Treasury rates or highly rated corporate bond rates.  When you set a guaranteed rate of return on pensions unrelated to any actual investment returns, you automatically back-end compensation. In other words, you shove to the future taxpayer money that could be used to pay higher entry salaries now.  Worse, you force government reliance on Wall Street and the Federal Reserve to meet specific and consistent investment benchmarks through investments that must be volatile and risky to meet the rate of return a political body can decree as "normal" only because of its power to raise taxes and borrow money. If you're an advanced reader, you can also figure out such a pension at a guaranteed ROI forces governments to become de facto insurance companies capable of predicting life expectancies of their own employees even after such employees are off the payroll. (More on this issue HERE.)

4.  Rihanna, why you gotta do my man Chris Rock like that?

5.  Rock, like fellow comedian Christopher Titus, was dragged through the American family court system and emerged understanding it's not designed to do much except drain money from litigants.  American lawyers and judges are so out of touch with most people, the day will come when people actually do kill the lawyers--or just refuse to elect politicians who are lawyers. I can see why Mao's revolution (aka Cultural Revolution) happened. When the elites are this far out of touch, consequences are sure to occur at some point, unless bread, circuses, and propaganda get really, really good.

6.  Some of Rock's comedy seemed to go over the heads of the Canadian audience. The "foreign" audience laughed the most at the in-law jokes but stayed oddly muted at his hilarious references to Keyser Soze and the Crips.  I just asked two Canadians sitting next to me if they knew what "Crips" meant. One person had no idea, and the other person--who'd visited the States--mentioned it could mean both a derogatory reference to the disabled ("crips") as well as a gang.  She's originally from South Africa.  Toronto is amazing when it comes to diversity.

I wish Rock the best life has to offer.  True American geniuses--especially the kind who can make your throat hoarse from laughing too much--are one of a kind these days. 

© Matthew Mehdi Rafat (2017)

Bonus: in case it matters to you, Rock slept with a Destiny's Child member during his marriage and made sure to say it was not Beyonce. 

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