It was no coincidence that Chris Rock waited until one week before the Oscars to unleash his Netflix comedy special, “Selective Outrage,” for which he received a hefty $40 million.
Timing one year after the famous slap by Will Smith at the Oscars 2022, Rock was mostly universally praised for not responding to the assault versus reacting quickly and emotionally.
In the special, he rolled out, piece by piece, joke by joke, covering a variety of cutting edge and newsworthy social issues that many are thinking, but view as off limits. Rock’s talent lies in both his unfaltering delivery and the fact that he wrote the script.
The show comes with the caveat that the “F,” “S,” and “N” words are pervasive. He pulls it off because he stays in his lane. He did no other minority jokes nor “Jews run Hollywood” jabs…other than one small reference to “if you want to draw attention to yourself in an infamous way, you could stab Dave Chapelle”…note that he’s not advocating doing that, describing how folks want to gain notoriety by posting on social media versus working hard.
Recording from his live show in Baltimore, Rock performed to a full house of predominantly African Americans. The cameras panned on most laughing, but some with tentative looks, like, “Is that off limits or really funny?”
On the left-leaning “The View,” on ABC, all panelists agreed that “Rock was funny as hell…smart in waiting to respond,” and that Smith brought it upon himself. However, they took exception to two bits: Rock watching with delight at Smith getting whipped as a slave in “Emancipation,” and his take on abortion, “I’ve paid for more abortions than this whole room, so many that I have a frequency punch card.” He even suggested that abortion could be allowed until age 4 as he revealed his own daughter’s biting habit as a toddler.
Other subjects that got splayed: Megan Markle, who “hit the light skin lottery,” and “makes herself a victim on Oprah,” with her not knowing about the Royal Family. And according to Rock, it’s not offensive to talk about the skin tone of the unborn.
Then, there’s the Kardashian women’s proclivity for Black men, how all today’s TV commercials depict mixed race families, and one really big laugh was evaluating neighborhoods.
“If you’re in a white neighborhood at lunch, you’ll see women dressed in work out clothes, you’re safe. If you’re in neighborhood with unemployed men hanging around, not so safe.”
Revealing that he was 58, his schtick about dating age appropriately was as funny as it comes. He contrasted the scenarios of dating an older woman, asking him to pay for roof or car repairs.
Saving the piece de résistance until the end, Rock unwound his grand slam, explaining the details that led up to the famous slap. “Did it hurt? It still hurts. I have ‘Summertime’ still playing in my head,” and did we know that Smith was much larger at 6’2” to Rock’s diminutive frame?
The “after-show” rundown (a must watch) had six high-profile commentators like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who stated, “Smith would have never had the courage to hit me.”
The bomb drop was that Jada Pinkett Smith had asked Rock to quit as the Oscar host (2022) because Will wasn’t nominated for his film, “Concussion.” And, most importantly, the Smiths themselves put her infidelity out to the public.
Local Jewish Facebook viewers also weighed in.
Pamela Grossman said, “I think his jokes were on point but the language (and I’m not usually offended), took away from the message and left me confused about using that (the “N” word)…his sketch would have been more poignant without that.”
Leslie Silverman said, “Fabulous show. I’ve always believed you can’t be a victim and a victor at the same time. There are real victims in this world, but most aren’t victims.”