The Best Of The Chris Rock Show
Chris Rock is one of the most talented stand-up comedians working today, but like his idol Richard Pryor, his shtick is seldom employed particularly well outside of the world of stand-up comedy. His teaming with Morgan Freeman and Renée Zellweger in Neil LaBute's forthcoming dark comedy Nurse Betty looks promising, but his resume is otherwise a laundry list of dreck: Sgt. Bilko, Beverly Hills Ninja, Lethal Weapon 4, and so on. Similarly, both his albums have been hindered by silly, uneven skits that have detracted from his acidic political and social commentary. And while The Best Of The Chris Rock Show is not without its high points, it still fails to capture what makes Rock so funny and challenging. A collection of skits and bits from his consistently watchable HBO show, the tape alternates between funny bits grounded in a definite social reality (a piece in which Rock attempts to convince the weary residents of a predominantly white New York neighborhood to sign a petition for a Tupac Shakur Blvd.) and sillier one-note bits like a labored Rescue 911 parody. It never quite descends into the endless skits and pathetic catchphrase-and-recurring-character crutches of late-period Saturday Night Live, but it never approaches the surreal brilliance of HBO's wonderful Mr. Show, either. Sadly, until HBO finally releases some Mr. Show compilations, or Comedy Central sees fit to anthologize episodes of its underrated Upright Citizens Brigade, skit-comedy lovers will have to make do with this only sporadically funny collection.