Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger Marty Callner

Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger Marty Callner
Re-staking his claim as the funniest, sharpest comedian of his generation, Chris Rock takes some Grade A, new material across the world and, as literally as possible, brings viewers along for the trek. More than most of his contemporaries - hell, more than most entertainers - Rock was made for these politically-charged times; he's the most fearlessly outspoken, thought-provoking artist to ambivalently call the U.S. home. But ruminating about America is far from the sole province of its citizens, a point Rock hammers home by taking a routine rich with observations about his nation and destroying international audiences with every line. For Kill the Messenger, Rock and director Marty Callner spice things up, editing three performances together as one, highlighting the breadth and potency of his latest act. Whether stalking the stage at the Carnival City Casino in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Apollo Hammersmith in London, England or Harlem's World Famous Apollo Theater in New York, Rock unleashes biting lines about John McCain the "war hero," the epitome of blackness that is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton playing herself like the last ugly girl at the club. He continues to mine a seemingly endless well of inspiration from gender, class, sexual and race dynamics, discovering fresh ways of tackling this essential stuff and saying something incisive about it. Only Rock can break down the distinctions between having "a job" and "a career," or speaking frankly about why African-American women despise white girls for stealing black men - mostly because they themselves are not really attracted to white guys. Again, the beauty of Kill the Messengeris watching this commentary impact audiences from vastly different cultural backgrounds in the exact same way. It's fair to say that the individual concerts in their entirety, each of which are included here, are more satisfying than the ready-for-broadcast amalgam; Rock's city-specific material is priceless and it's fascinating to watch him develop a rhythm and pace over the course of a single show. That said, aside from some refinements over time on the road, Rock's material is the same: dynamic and bold. In a "Conversations with Chris Rock," segment, the comedian expresses his desire to tour the world like a rock musician, to destroy the misconception that African-Americans are not eager to take their work on the road because it won't translate elsewhere. On Kill the Messenger, more than succeeds, knocking it out of any park, again and again. (Warner)