As you probably know by now, if you have a pulse and a TV, Chris Rock stars in the new comedy, “Death at a Funeral,” a film starring an ensemble cast that includes Martin Lawrence, Zoe Saldana and Tracy Morgan and opening in theaters today.
But while you’re waiting to score tickets for “Death at a Funeral” at the local theater, there is a multitude of Chris Rock material that you can take home right now.
You’ve got to give the brilliant comedian – who just turned 45 this year – his due. There are certainly other classic funnymen out here, but how many have done their own show, produced a hit comedy show about their own life, starred in several movies, had HBO comedy specials taped on several continents and made a documentary about black women’s hair? No, we didn’t think you could come up with anyone else.
So check out these five must rent/must buy DVDs to appreciate the full comic genius of the one and only Chris Rock.
“NEW JACK CITY” (1991) – Even though this movie was released over 20 years ago, it remains a classic of the genre, as does its soundtrack. Rock’s character is more pitiful than funny in the film – which was among his first movie roles – but it remains one of Wesley Snipes’ most compelling performances, as well as the movie that Vanessa L. Williams was best known for until her work on the “Soul Food” series. For nostalgia’s sake, you can see which actors have moved on to bigger and better careers since (Chris Rock most notably, but Ice T and Allen Payne have too), as well as those who engender a head-scratching, where-are-they-now (Tracy Camila Johns, Christopher Williams) response. It’s worth a rental, but for true aficionados of hip-hop and movies and how they intersected in the 80’s and 90’s, “New Jack City” should be part of any true fan’s permanent collection.
“GOOD HAIR” (2009) – Who would have thought that, of all people, Chris Rock would be the person who could get a movie made about black women and their hair? Not only did he get “Good Hair” made; he gathered interviews from weave wearers Raven Symone, Nia Long, Melyssa Ford, Lauren London, who talked openly about the expense and time needed to maintain their glossy, long tresses. Rock also travels to India to trace the surprising origins of the hair that sustains a billion-dollar industry, finally ending up in Atlanta, where the Bronner Brothers’ annual hair show extravaganza takes place. It’s not a complete take on the choices and history of black women and their hair, but it’s an interesting comedic look at the pressures and expense of beauty and what role it plays in black life.
“EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS” (2005-2009) – Chris Rock’s lively show about his childhood in Brooklyn had a few things going for it. Once, who better to produce a show about Rock’s childhood than the man himself? And apparently he had a pretty funny one. It also boasted the appealing Tyler James Williams – undoubtedly a star on the rise – as well as “Martin” favorite Tichina Arnold and Terry Crews. Like many TV sitcoms, the show portrays an intact family, but in this one, the mother and father both work, while the mother runs the show and the household with unquestioned authority. “Everybody Hates Chris” won an NAACP Image Award for writing in 2008. The entire series is available on DVD.
“THE CHRIS ROCK SHOW” (1997-2000) – There are many comics that have had TV shows, not including the hilarity of the ensemble cast that was ..