Helen Herimbi sat down with Chris Rock ahead of his No Apologies World Tour and discovered that not everyone takes their jobs home with them.
Chris Rock is a businessman. When the cameras click away and the lights go on, so does he.
But when he puts the microphone down it’s almost as if he closes shop. The US comedian’s small frame, emphasised by his tightly fitting blue pants and jacket and his gigantic grin – outlined by his greying beard – makes him look like a shrinking bobblehead in his chair.
Nothing like the epitome of stage presence that has seen fans and critics alike hail him as one of the greatest of all time. But you can look however you want to, when you are a multiple Emmy and Grammy-award winning comedian with more than 20 years of work under your belt.
What keeps Rock rocking on then? “The money,” he says. “Comedy is fun. I think I’m still growing at it. When I stop growing then I’ll be in a position to stop.”
He tugs at his jacket while leaning into the tape recorder and explains that his three-year hiatus that preceded this tour was not a sign of stunted growth. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
He shares: “I was doing movies and producing my TV show during that time.” Rock has come a long way from playing bit parts in blockbusters like New Jack City and now even stars and directs his own movies, which include Head of State and I Think I Love My Wife.
His incredibly funny autobiographical sitcom, SABC1’s Everybody Hates Chris (which Rock produces and narrates), has been a good outlet for him to explore other avenues outside of stand-up comedy. “I don’t like to do stand-up all the time, because it gets stale when you do that. I like to sit back and let the world change a little bit and then, when I come back, it’s a new act.”
Speaking of new acts, a few new comedians – most notably Wild ’N Out’s Affion Crockett – have been known to do hilarious impersonations of Rock.
He isn’t fazed by it though, he actually welcomes it. Rock grins: “I guess it’s cool for people to do impressions of me. It’s always a little weird to see that. I tend to do jokes about people who I kind of care about, so when someone does an impression of me I just take it as a compliment.”
This father of two girls has clearly made an indelible mark on the comedy circuit and thus earned the reputation of your favourite stand-up comic’s favourite stand-up comic. Added to that, Rock maintains that “the ultimate goal when I started off was just to make a living, keep an apartment and have a car. Those things were big goals and I have far exceeded everything I ever thought about.”
And though he may not be the most exciting person to interview, he does make it work where it counts the most: on stage.
This article appeared in Tonight on 5 June 2008.