Chris Rock TOTAL BLACKOUT Total Joy
Yes, Chris Rock took my phone, but I took notes. Total Blackout was a Total Joy, his first solo show in 9 years. He referenced his earlier work, and took it further. He referenced Carlin’s classic routine, and took it further. I’d heard friends say this show was more of a confessional, less about the jokes. The show I saw was indeed a confessional, but there was no lack of jokes. He took it further.
Remember Chris Rock’s classic routine ‘We don’t need gun control, we need bullet control’ -? This time – instead of suggesting bullets should cost $5000 – Chris Rock suggests more people should own property. Instead of – ‘I’d blow your head off, if I could afford it’ – it becomes ‘I was gonna go postal, but you’re lucky I’ve got a mortgage to pay. One of those big mansion mortgages, with a house like Suge Knight every month, going “Where’s my money?”’
Remember George Carlin’s classic routine about religion? Carlin talked about ‘An invisible man in the sky… will send you to a special place… of burning and fire… until the end of time. But he loves you! He loves you, and he needs money.’ Chris Rock dares to take it further. He wonders why God needs financial help, but never the Devil. ‘You never hear the Devil saying “We need your contributions to keep the heat on down here.” The Devil’s in the strip club making it rain.’
Chris Rock literally quoted himself, as he blaming white people for a racist society – then added ‘But y’all here tonight are all right! Anyone asks you what you did tonight, tell them “I helped send a black girl to private school.”’ This time his racial observations are seen from the perspective of raising black kids in a white society. His ideas for giving his daughters associations with the color white – hilarious. ‘And if you’re raising a black boy, you might as well start every day by punching him in the face. In fact, if you’re raising a black boy in America without marks on his face, that’s child abuse.’
And here we get to The Red Thread. The backdrop was a big red sign: ‘Comfort is the poison.’ Chris Rock says we’ve gotten too good at anti-bullying campaigns. ‘That’s how Trump got elected. A real bully showed up, and no one knew how to deal with it.’
Chris Rock went onstage at 9pm and talked until 10:30. There was no dead spot. There were perfectly scripted punchlines we’ll be quoting for years. (‘Mark Zuckerberg was such a nerd. He invented Facebook because his face got hit with a book.’) He tried out some tailored material about Amsterdam, comparing the neighborhood around the ZiggoDome (Amsterdam Bijlmer) to the abject poverty you see going from an airport to a vacation resort. ‘But once you get to the resort, it’s all fine. One sip of a Pina Colada, and it’s like “that baby wasn’t really dead, was it?’”
And to finish the show, Chris Rock references his earlier piece ‘Rich vs. Wealth.’ He references it, and he takes it further. I won’t spoil that bit here. But it does involve a divorce court, with a black judge. ‘A black judge who has to have the word JUDGE printed on the back, so people won’t think he’s just wearing a cape.’ The story ends with a callback not just to earlier in the show, but earlier in his earlier shows. I’ve seen reviews saying it was self-indulgent, but what I saw was masterful.
Surprise – there were three opening acts as well. Jeff Ross is known for The Comedy Central Roast, and he got big laughs by inviting ten or so audience members onstage for an improvised roast. It was just as insensitive and Don-Rickles-like as you’d expect. Up second was Michelle Wolf from The Daily Show, whose material was mostly smart and funny. Which made up for the oh-so-tired opening about Dutch people biking and smoking weed. Up third was Hari Kondabolu, who was nothing but brilliant. ‘I’m Hindu, or as it’s pronounced in America, Muslim.’ He was not afraid to go meta, making jokes about the format of the jokes. And his bits about white chocolate vs. dark chocolate were already being quoted by the audience at the break. He’s known for his podcast Politically Reactive, and he apparently has a comedy special coming soon.
It was my first time in the Ziggo Dome venue. There were appx. 5000 people. So yes there were video screens, which seemed to me to be pretty small, actually. From what I hear the screens are normally bigger. As for the sound, it was fine. In the first half, they used a wireless handheld, which was… fine. But Chris Rock used his standard cabled handheld. And the sound was just that much better.
Thanks to PIAS comedy & Eric & Mojo. Next time sell 2 shows.