Chris Rock Tests Jokes at Comedy Clubs Ahead of Oscars

Chris Rock Preps Oscar Monologue at
Courtesy of ABC

Chris Rock has been testing out his Oscar-night material this past week at L.A. comedy clubs to good effect, though he’s officially staying mum on what he has planned.

On Monday, a fan tweeted to him, “You really killed it at the Comedy Store last night.” Rock also did stand-up at the Largo last Thursday at an event hosted by Judd Apatow.

Compared to past Oscar hosts, Rock has been relatively quiet, though he posted two photos on Instagram on Monday that seem like clues. One photo features him in a NASA astronaut suit with the caption “Getting my outfit together,” and another featured him with Kristen Wiig and J.J. Abrams captioned “Almost showtime.” Wiig and Abrams rep the year’s biggest outer-space movies, “The Martian” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” respectively.

Reporting on the Largo gig, the Observer’s Andy Wang said Rock naturally made jokes about diversity, but went beyond that, also offering one-liners about Leonardo DiCaprio, Sean Penn, El Chapo, Oscar fashions and non-Hollywood topics such as divorce and dating. Wang discreetly opted not to divulge the gags, but said Rock’s standup included a joke about “the absurdity of one particular boycott. That bit included a withering, perfect punchline involving two celebrities, but Mr. Rock knew it was too lewd to get by the Oscar censors.”

Last December, Rock spoke with Essence magazine about gender inequality in Hollywood, and particularly the struggles by women of color to get hired. The March issue features an interview by Isabel Wilkerson that was conducted several weeks before #OscarsSoWhite got so intense. Rock told her, “I’ve never done a movie, any movie, the silliest movie, where someone, some studio person, hasn’t gone ‘Does the girl have to be black?’ It happens every time. Black women get paid less than everybody in Hollywood.”

While Jennifer Lawrence spoke up about the gender gap in Hollywood paydays, Rock said most black actresses “would love to get to Jennifer Lawrence’s place.”

Rock first hosted the Oscars a decade ago, and was similarly low-key about advance publicity. But in a Feb. 14, 2005, interview with Variety, the show’s producer that year, Gil Cates, laughed that he was constantly being asked how he would “control” Chris Rock. Due to Rock’s language on his HBO specials, Variety admitted he seemed “a raunchy choice.” But Cates countered: “He’s very thoughtful and intelligent. His humor is basically intellectual humor. He deals with race and business and politics.”

In a review of the Oscarcast, Variety‘s Brian Lowry praised Rock, saying he had a funny monologue with barbs at Bush Administration “but did not draw blood.”

This year, the Oscar show is being produced by Reginald Hudlin and David Hill. The latter, an Oscar first-timer but a veteran of live TV, vowed to Variety that they plan to bring in the show on time. The Oscars will be held Feb. 28 at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland.

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  1. David says:

    I absolutely love CR. Love his stand up specials. Love him TO DEATH. I would give the guy the benefit of the doubt in most situations, and although I realize he was in a tight spot, I found the monologue and continuous “black skits” to miss the mark somewhat. I am a black male and pretty liberal, but I was not offended in the least by the non-inclusion of blacks at this year’s Oscars. My response was more akin to John Singleton’s. The Oscars are one awards show. It’s entertainment, period. There were plenty of great black films put out this year. You don’t have to be a genius to find them and enjoy them. Did they make it to the Oscars? No. Do I really care? No. I live in Chicago, and I am a lot more worried about what is going on in the south side of the city with the continued violence. Not every joke was a dud, but I’ve seen CR so much better…maybe my expectations were set too high. Still love him and will watch his comedy specials! He was not put in an easy situation.

  2. john says:

    Chris Rock sucks!…not because he is black but because the guy just isn’t funny.

  3. Blackpeopleareracist says:

    #blackpeoplesobutthurt

    Wahh I didn’t get nominated. Waahhh.

  4. Jacene says:

    Chris Rock better remind Oscar wannabes, how the Nazi’s forced Jews and Christians to give them accolades, Artwork, Creations and Money. How is this not different?

    It’s an AWARDS show, not jobs.

  5. TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    Wait. I got some more. Free to beg borrow or steal. Have Chris use these jokes…

    If Leo DiCaprio wins:

    “Finally. For the record, let’s hear it for a white non Smith and Jones. Excuse me for splitting hairs, but we were beginning to think Leo was white enough to get good work but the name DiCaprio was not white enough to win anything.”

    If DiCaprio doesn’t win:

    “We all know that Leo has been waiting for so long, but the Academy has still decided that he looks white enough to be nominated…but his name doesn’t sound white enough for him to win.”

    If Sly Stallone wins:

    “This guy is the greatest movie action hero of all time. And you had to wait till he was almost 70 to give him a pat on the back? Say what? Was the young Italian Stallion not white enough for Academy voters? And that kick ass score from the fight scene in the first film. It sounded like a combo of Mozart and Bach. Was Bill Conti not white enough for an Oscar to rank him with the great classical composers?”

    If Stallone doesn’t win:

    “You couldn’t give the old man a parting token gift? We get it. If Sly didn’t land Rocky he would have spent a career playing off semi white bad guys. And now this snub. You white people, how are you going to practice diversity when you can’t even be fair handed with different shades of your own kind?”

    If Ennio Morricone wins:

    “How is it that Italy has won more Oscars than any other foreign country and yet this guy who is a legend never won for any of those Spaghetti Westerns? Are ethnic folks from the old country not white enough to win until they are old, almost dead and buried?”

    If Morricone doesn’t win:

    “(In Italian) Scusi… I understand that Mr. Morricone already won a career achievement Oscar reserved for those not white enough to win in their prime. We’ll let it go this time. But next time let’s have more Tarantino flicks win for music to drown out all the N words.”

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