HBO Presents: Chris Rock – Kill The Messenger 2008 (Full Video)
Chris Rock in 3-D? That’s more or less what you get with Kill the Messenger. Recorded in 2008, the 79-minute show is actually a compilation of three different gigs (in London, New York, and Johannesburg, South Africa) deftly edited into a single performance, presumably drawing on the best takes from each. It’s an effective technique, as it sustains visual interest (i.e., Rock’s wardrobe changes) and reveals the comedian’s gift for making his act seem spontaneous when in fact it’s basically the same every night during a given tour.
As for the content, it’s what you’d expect from Rock: rude (f-bombs fall like acid rain, the “n word” flows freely, and the sexual references are extremely graphic), incisive, and hilarious. Some of the material has already passed its sell-by date; jokes about the ’08 presidential election, while funny (John McCain is “so old, he used to own Sidney Poitier”), are obviously no longer current.
Elsewhere, Rock riffs on the difference between “career” and “job,” gay fans, ringtones, and even Gwen Stefani, but it’s his observations about race that are central to the performance–and they never lose their bite, especially when it comes to black-white relations (on black men’s predilection for, uh, larger women: “A black man’ll drop-kick Keira Knightley to get to Rosie O’Donnell”).
On the whole, he seems optimistic, if somewhat bemused (“All my black friends have a bunch of white friends. All my white friends have one black friend”), even as he remains acutely aware of the persistence of racism and inequality. If you’re easily offended, steer clear of Kill the Messenger. Otherwise, get ready to laugh.