NEW YORK — As the father of a baby girl, Chris Rock discovered that his main job is giving her a healthy first impression of men.
If she grows up to be a stripper, he’ll know he failed.
“You got to keep her off the pole!” Rock advises at the top of his voice.
“Chris Rock: Never Scared” captures this child-care expert on stage in Washington, and unleashes it as an HBO special at 10 p.m. ET Saturday.
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The fathering material, with which Rock starts his show, arose from home life mixed with memories of “dating enough crazy women with daddy issues,” he explained earlier this week in his sparsely furnished Manhattan office.
“But it’s a joke I almost wish I didn’t do,” he sighs. “There’s SO MUCH there, I only get to skim the surface! I may have to come back to that later on.”
For the moment, Rock seizes on the public’s willingness to be distracted from the world’s burning issues by celebrity news.
“Bush sent that girl to Kobe Bryant’s room, Bush sent that little boy to Michael Jackson’s house — to get your mind off the war!”
He speaks the hilarious truth about racism, relationships, rap music. And doughnuts. Namely Krispy Kreme doughnuts, which are so deliciously addictive, he declares, “if I told you right now they had crack in it, you’d say, ‘I KNEW something was up!”’
That’s some of the material Rock had honed for months before the tour. But once on the road, “stuff happens,” he says. “I’m off Sunday for the Super Bowl. Janet (Jackson) whips out her (breast). Then I have a show Monday. I GOTTA open up with that! I just can’t ignore this thing!”
His hatched-on-deadline rant (best not reprinted here) is one of the highlights of a show fueled by Rock’s recipe of high energy, cool reflection and street smarts befitting his youth in the tough Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
Rock loves standup
Now 38, he has served in the “Saturday Night Live” ensemble, starred in three prior HBO comedy specials as well as a talk-comedy series, and won those three Emmys over on that corner shelf in his office. He has appeared in a number of films, including “Head of State,” which he also directed, and written a book (”Rock This!”).
But standup comedy is his preferred line of work, he says. “It’s what I do best, and I get to kind of work alone.”
Despite the careful crafting of his act, Rock insists the goal is simple.
“I try to make ’em laugh, and I try to give them an insight into me and whatever I care about at that particular moment. But it’s not like, ‘You need to hear this!’ A message? That’s for other people. I’m not Public Enemy. I’m not Mort Sahl.
“I try to get a lot of relationship stuff in there,” he adds, “’cause I think that’s what sells the seats. The politics (comedy) gets a lot of attention, but without the relationship stuff I’d be at Caroline’s playing to 320 people.”
Now that his tour is done, Rock is looking forward to the arrival of a second daughter next month, and to a new film with Adam Sandler starting midsummer.
More immediate: Sorting files on his two iPods. One he wants loaded just with music, the other for comedy and spoken word.
But apart from his two-iPod lifestyle, Rock doesn’t make a habit of splurging, he says.
“I live below my means, not above,” he says, “so I won’t have to be on the road for at LEAST two years” — he is stretching his mouth into that wide, emphatic Chris Rock grin — “at LLLLEAST!”
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