Christopher Julius "Chris" Rock III is an American comedian, actor, screenwriter, 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. 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.
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The previous AMA was just a drill. I'm here to answer your questions for the next hour or so. Victoria's going to be helping me out.
My latest movie TOP FIVE is in theaters now.
Update: Go see TOP FIVE. It's the funniest movie out. It's funnier than EXODUS. It's funnier than Black ANNIE. It's funnier than INTO THE WOODS. It's funnier than the FOXCATCHER.
It's the funniest movie out.
Thanks for the questions!
Are you and Kevin Hart going on tour together? If so can you call the tour 'Between a Rock and a Hart place'?
I would LOVE to tour with Kevin, that would be a lot of fun. I don't know what we would call it. It would probably NOT be "Between a Rock and a Hart Place." But if Kevin wants to tour, I'd get ready.
Heya. One question: Are you happy?
You live a life that most of us can't fathom, but too many comedians have these inner demons and end up killing themselves.
I just wondered if you were happy being you.
I'm pretty happy being me.
That's not to say I don't have my own little demons, but I don't foresee myself going anyplace dark right now.
My kids save me from that stuff. I'm good.
Which SNL cast member was the smartest?
The smartest SNL cast member was Adam Sandler, by far.
People are going to know this - when I got hired, Adam was hired as a writer, he wasn't even hired as a cast member. And he was smart enough to write stuff for other people AND write stuff for himself at the same time. Made himself indispensable. Made himself into a star. Smartest guy I know.
What has been your strangest fan encounter?
I remember a midget girl hit on me one night.
She came up to me, at a club, I forget what city - it was getting late - and she asked what hotel I was staying at, and I said I was married, and she said "Can't blame a bitch for trying!"
That was funny.
I read that you retired the 'black people vs. n-words' routine because you thought it gave racists the license to use the n-word more openly. Was there a specific event that lead you to this descision? As a comedian who rose to prominence with racially-centered humour, do you think racism in America has improved or worsened since Bring the Pain?
Have there been instances where people have repeated your comedy bits which contain racially charged material in front of you in completely inappropriate situations?
First of all, I didn't retire the bit because of anything. I retire everything after I do it on TV. People never really respond to jokes twice, you know? Humor is about surprise.
Race in America, I mean, you know, there's progress and then there's setbacks. Since "Bring the Pain," it's a different world, obviously. That was 1996. A lot's happened since '96. I'd say it's a better world.
I get it a lot? I get it a lot with sex stuff. I've had like, you know, taking my kids to school and other kids' moms tell me their favorite positions and stuff, just telling me very inappropriate sex things. It can be a little like "Whoaaaa, okay."
I’ve recently been watching Jerry Seinfeld’s new show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. In Tina Fey’s segment she mentions how she, Louis C.K., and a few other comedians helped you re-write a movie over a weekend. As a thank you, you gave them all a Rolex with the inscription “Thanks for your help Mother Fucker.” At the end of the story she says “I like that someone had to a Rolex store and ask for 5 watches inscribed with that phrase”. Who did the other 3 Rolex’s go to and what movie was it they helped you re-write? I'm familiar with the work you have done with Louis, but I can't find Tina Fey's name attached to anything you have done outside of SNL.
I'm not sure. It was either "Head of State" or "Pootie Tang." And the other writers, I'm not sure. I wish I could tell you. I'd say Frank Sabastiano was probably one of 'em, and maybe Lance Crouther, and Jimmy Tingle. It was probably "Head of State."
Do you still believe in bullet control?
I definitely believe in bullet control. It's the sad thing that America does not believe in bullet control. But I will champion that movement.
In a recent interview, you discussed why you no longer perform on college campuses:
> ...[T]hey’re way too conservative... in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody.
This reflects a common sentiment among First Amendment advocates who claim the modern student body values the safety of not being offended over their right to free speech, which has led to campus "speech codes" — even in public universities.
What do you think this new attitude means for the future of comedy? And what would you say to someone who is reluctant to allow you to perform on their campus because of the topics you are known to discuss and lampoon?
Wow, that's a big heavy thing. Fear of provocation is probably NOT just for comedy. I mean, anybody that doesn't want me - I like venues that like me, I don't have time for people that don't want me to perform. Everybody has a right to do what they want, and a campus doesn't want me to perform, that's fine.
What is your opinion on Hannibal Burress calling out Bill Cosby and the fall out after?
I don't know. I mean, I think Hannibal thought he was doing a joke to the people in the room? I don't think he thought all of this would happen.
How were the ribs from the rib joint in I'm Going to get you Sucka?
I remember the ribs being actually good that day. I remember actually eating the ribs several times.
It was a real rib joint. It wasn't a movie set.
What do you think of the newer mediums of comedy such as lets play's, vine, youtube shorts, and homemade animations?
I like all of it. I mean... comedy's not a brand. You can't just be standup or sketch. There's a lot of great people out there doing really funny work. So I'm up for all of it.
You're one of the best and I love that you're doing this AMA.
I have a story and a question for you.
I saw you perform in 1999 in Sunrise, Florida. My friends and I were 17 and we were rude enough to think audience participation was appropriate. A woman placed a dozen roses on stage. You thanked her. Many more audience members yelled pleasantries at you to which you responded graciously.
Then my friends and I executed our plans. We held up a sign that said "We love Pookie!" I stood on my chair and exposed my pale, hairless torso which had "Chris, You Pimp!" painted on it. The theatre people then put a spotlight on me so you could read what we painted and you called us "crazy ass white kids" and said "Pookie's dead, motherfuckers. What did you watch? The ghetto ass bootleg version?" And then you said, "I ain't no pimp. They just make it look like that in the movies."
Anyway, we were rude as fuck and I want to apologize to you. You could have destroyed us with insults (or had us thrown out) but you didn't. We totally deserved it, but the route you chose showed that you're excellent at improvising and you appreciate your fans.
You're amazing. I love your work and it's really had an impact on my life. Thank you so much for that.
Will you please eulogize Pookie?
Pookie was a good crackhead.
One of the greatest crackheads of all time. No one smoked as much crack, or as well, as Pookie.
Let's hope he's smoking crack at the big crackhouse in the sky.
According to the book The Chris Farley Show, Beverly Hills Ninja depressed Chris Farley a fair amount and put him back in to a bad place that spiraled into his death. Is that accurate? Any sense of that on set?
There was no sense of that on the set. I mean, we all were depressed on Beverly Hills Ninja. So we were ALL depressed. It wasn't a great representation of anybody in it.
First I wanna start by saying that I am a huge fan of your work! Now on to the question… Which movie did you pass up that you wish you hadn’t? and why did you pass it up?
"Meet the Parents." There was NO De Niro at the time! There you go!
Is your neighbor still a dentist?
I think the dentist moved... and now my neighbor owns a tile company.
Did you enjoy working on Dogma? Any funny behind the scenes stories?
I had a good time working on Dogma, with Kevin and the guys. The only thing I remember about it was being naked for a LOOONG time on the ground... I fall out of the sky naked, so...
Hello sir! Whose your favorite comedian of all time? Favorite new comedian?
My favorite comedian of all-time is probably Richard Pryor. He's the most raw, he's the most honest, and he's the funniest.
My favorite NEW comedian? I don't know how new he is, but every time I see Jim Gaffigan, I laugh and laugh. I love seeing him on TV, hearing him on comedy radio stations, guy just makes me laugh.
I'm sure you've heard Jim Breuer's story about Chris Farley pooping out of a window while he was an SNL cast member, do you have any stories like that about him?
I don't have any Chris Farley pooping out of windows stories.
I have a couple "vomiting out of window stories" but no "pooping out of windows" stories.
Chris was known to vomit, from time-to-time, and the great thing 'bout it was, he'd be messed up before he vomited and then as soon as he vomited... he'd be back to normal. It was kind of a "reset" button. "OH, Chris is back!"
What directors inspired you in the making of this movie? Do you foresee directing on a regular basis?
I'm a big Woody Allen fan. I'm a big Alexander Payne fan, Paul Thomas Anderson... Soderbergh... but probably Woody more than anybody. People are calling TOP FIVE "Woody-ish" but if you're not stealing from Woody, you're not doing anything, you know? If you're not stealing from the Beatles, you're not making music!
And I liked it, but it takes me away from my kids for long periods of time. I'd do it sporadically, but I don't know if I'll do it anytime soon.
What's your favorite breakfast food?
My favorite breakfast food?
I really just like a bowl of pineapple, to tell you the truth.
I just like some fruit in the morning.
Some pineapple and a side of bacon.
Who would win in a fight, you or Chris Tucker? Where would the fight take place, how much will it cost to see?
Let's see, me and Chris Tucker. He would win, he outweighs me by about 40 pounds, I guess.
It's not really a Vegas fight, probably Mississippi somewhere, with a riverboat casino. It would probably cost you about $30 to be there. Neither one of us are fighters. But he would win.
Do you have any plans to do more music stuff? No Sex was funny and I find myself singing it almost every time someone says, "Champagne"....and now I'm singing it again.
"Cornbread! Ain't nothin' wrong with that!"
I wouldn't mind doing more music stuff. I did a sketch with Kanye on the Beautiful Twisted Fantasy album. I guess that was the last time I did anything musical. But yeah, I would love to. Haven't done an album in a while because no one's buying albums anymore.
It's lunch time in California. So I'll ask the obvious, what is your favorite type of sandwich - and where is your favorite sandwich spot?
My favorite sandwich - I can't even eat it anymore because I'm allergic to shrimp- but at the Cheesecake Factory, they have a shrimp and bacon sandwich, which is the most delicious sandwich ever. I highly recommend it.
Hey Chris! Thanks for coming to hang out with us.
Any upcoming projects in the next year that you'd like to share with us?
Love your work.
I'm doing research on another Hair documentary. So maybe that'll happen. Writing another movie, writing some stand-up, so at some point, the next 3-4 months, I'll see which one is ready to go. And then I'll choose.
Do you like or love Orange Tic Tacs?
I really like orange tic-tacs. I wouldn't describe it as love.
I mean, I like all tic-tacs. There's no such thing as a bad tic-tac.
Any chance of a sequel to Head of State?
I don't know? Would it be called "Re-Election" or something?
I'm open to ideas!
How would you survive a zombie apocalypse?
How would i survive a zombie apocalypse?
I don't know. I would probably disguise myself as a zombie, and start killing zombies. I would be a predator mega-zombie. Yeah, that's it.
When was the last time you sang along with 'Dancing Queen'?
I don't know. 2 weeks ago, 3 weeks ago? If you get your iPod, it's pretty high up there, it's in the A's.
Kind of a perfect pop record. Sounds great.
What kind of food do you like?
I like spicy food!
My favorite thing to eat is probably soft-shell crabs from the Ivy in LA. Paging soft-shell crab...
If you didn't go into comedy, what would you be doing for a living now?
If I didn't go into comedy, I'd probably work at UPS or Fedex. I'd be the funny Fedex guy. But that would be what I'd be doing, probably.
Hey Chris. You're stuck on an island and you get to choose 3 things to be there with you, one electronic, one food, and one other person or thing of your choice, what would they be and why?
I guess an iPod. Not even an iPod, an iPad, because you get music AND a book, so you can read!
I already said how much I love pineapple, that'd be a good food.
And I don't know. This is a fantasy right? Whoever the funny supermodel is. Kate Upton with a sense of humor.
How much of an impact do you think social and political commentary in stand-up comedy makes in the bigger scheme of things?
I don't know. I mean, yes, I think it helps people become aware of things and that's good. I don't know if it changes anything, but awareness is pretty good. So it helps people become aware of certain issues.
so, what do you prefer: star wars, trek, gate or bucks?
I prefer Starbucks. You know. But Star Trek's pretty good too.
I'm not the tech-y guy!
Who was your favorite actor growing up?
My favorite actor growing up... probably Eddie Murphy.
You were going to play Jimmy Olsen in Superman: Lives, can you tell us what your version of the character would have been like?
I'm not sure. It was SO long ago. I was only going to do it cuz Tim Burton was directing. In most Superman movies, Jimmy Olsen's tied to a chair while Superman's out there doing the real work. He never gets the girl. But, you know, when the director of Pee-wee's Big Adventure calls, you just say yes!
Hi Chris. Just wondering about your thoughts of Canadian audiences?
I always have good shows in Toronto. And I always have weird shows in Montreal. Well, Montreal's French-Canadian.
But I love playing Toronto, and Winnipeg, and pretty much everyplace. But Montreal's always hard.
Of the many Chuck Taylors you've owned over the years, which pair was your favorite?
I would say my favorite pair of Chuck Taylors are the ones I'm wearing right now. That's the beauty of them: they always feel good. They're like legal slippers. Like you can wear them. You can get away with it.
Chris, are you still "An Altima man?"
Haven't broken out the Altima in a while. Still got it. But maybe i need a new carburetor or something.