Chris Rock’s First Standup Special in a Decade is a Smaller, More Personal Return from an All-Time Great

The comedian’s first Netflix special “Tamborine” may not be as ambitious as his best past work, but it shows the skills he has that few others can equal.

One of the first things that’s striking about “Chris Rock: Tamborine,” the latest special from the legendary comedian, is the audience. Filmed in Brooklyn, the venue for this hour of introspection, observation, and occasional absurdity has a smaller-sized crowd that feels more in line with its Netflix streaming home. Gone is the to-the-rafters approach of arena-sized performances like Rock’s various Apollo sets. This is a grand re-entry with a smaller focus, but still anchored by all the skill that’s made him essential.

Like Dave Chappelle, another icon who made a Netflix return after a decade away, there’s a good amount of material in “Tamborine” about dealing with fame and a changing relationship to what comes with a high-profile life. Rock’s attitude here is less to revel in the luxuries of his life and more to acknowledge the things that more opportunities put someone in danger of ignoring.

Rock’s chosen topics of conversation for “Tamborine” aren’t that far afield from those in many other specials, whether headlined by breakouts or established favorites. The American justice system, divorce, school bullying, and religion have all been broached before, even in titles available right next to Rock’s on Netflix’s standup category menu.

But there are few comics with as much instantaneous presence and command of an audience than Rock. Even in the way he’s able to take a word or phrase, repeat it with varying levels of enthusiasm, all giving way to a wry smile, it’s the same Rock touch that’s blasted the roof off of thousand-seat theaters from coast to coast (and even across continents in “Kill the Messenger”). With the back row a little closer this time around, his physical work (accentuating a bit about driving through a neighborhood to get to a Jamaican resort, for instance) is more refined than ever.

And that doesn’t change when Rock goes to his more introspective material. As he relives his past infidelities and the recent dissolution of his marriage, you can tell that it is not an insignificant thing to him. But he knows that he’s there to be a comedian, not to air out a decade-brewing personal therapy session. For every joke about the nature of divorce attorneys, there’s the added layer of Rock acknowledging what that says about how he’s changed since the last time the cameras rolled on him holding a mic.

For the format of the special itself, it’s not a huge departure for Rock. Aside from an ambient intro of him looking at a crowded room, it’s an hour of him on stage, done without a credits gag or on-stage antics. Bo Burnham’s direction, paired with his excellent work on last year’s in-the-round “Jerrod Carmichael: 8,” solidifies him as the most exciting person working behind the camera in the world of standup. Whether it was his idea or Rock’s, the uncomfortably close closeup when Rock is talking about is crumbling marriage is a genuine bit of storytelling that doesn’t just come from the jokes or delivery itself. When that moment of tension gets cut and it’s back to a wide shot of Rock laughing it off, there’s a release that mirrors exactly what rock is doing with his written stuff.

Another thing that’s deemphasized here is crowd reaction shots. From the opening shot, as Rock makes his stage entrance, it’s the audience bathed in light and him in the shadows. That’s the kind of approach “Tamborine” takes that sets it apart. The purpose isn’t to shore up his bona fides and maintain a reputation as a world-conquering master of punchlines. It’s more of a personal expression of what matters to Rock in a moment of great change, that search to connect with people in a fundamentally different way.

Chris Rock Netflix Tamborine

On matters outside the personal, “Tamborine” doesn’t reach the incisive heights of some of his past efforts. But it’s not because he’s incapable (the early, out-of-the-gate talk about police shootings finds him right back in familiar territory). It’s because a lot of the political anxieties that he summed up so succinctly in “Never Scared” are as relevant today as it was in 2004: nationalist anti-immigrant ideologies, the impossibly polarized conservative/liberal divide, and a rash of policies diminishing the U.S. on a global stage. To revisit that, in a bizarre way, would be treading on familiar territory that’s not in line with an hour more focused on the interpersonal.

Rock has always drawn his strongest, most iconic moments from studies in contrast, whether it’s men vs. women, white vs. black, or rich vs. poor. All of that is here too, including jokes about conditioning his children to be wary of the white people in their lives. With divorce as the overriding theme this time, a lot of those jokes eventually fall into relationship roles and shifting expectations. When Rock talks about the way that cell phones have changed the sheer amount of times that couples interact, he offers up this information like a dagger rather than the raw, chainsaw-like approach of some of his older material.

There are the occasional self-referential nods to that past work. “I kept her off the pole,” he says of his daughter, harkening back to the stripper-themed opening of “Never Scared.” But this isn’t someone who’s trying to live in the past, much less regain it. There’s less topical humor here, an increasingly wise choice for all comics. (How quickly that Omarosa joke flew right out the relevancy window.) That more inward look points to a man looking less for validation from an audience and speaking more from a position of someone who’s come back from a rocky life vacation with some stories to share.

Part of those stories come with advice. “Love hard or get the fuck out” becomes a mantra around the “Tamborine” midway point. For the Rock of past years, that would come across as a fierce directive, but “Tamborine” is more of a look at what can be rather than what is. Looking to the future isn’t what we’re used to, but there are few better masters of the form to help offer a way forward.

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Chris Rock Gets Brutally Honest About Porn Addiction and Cheating on His Wife: ‘I Wasn’t a Good Husband’

Chris Rock doesn’t shy away from the tough personal subjects in his new Netflix special, “Chris Rock: Tamborine.”

Chris Rock’s first hour-long comedy special in a decade has landed, and it features the comedian getting brutally honest with himself about the past. “Chris Rock: Tamborine” is now streaming on Netflix, and Rock doesn’t shy away from the tough subjects like his battle with porn addiction. Rock admits he wasn’t a good husband and spoke about the outcome of his addiction.

“I was not a good husband. I was fucked-up. I was addicted to porn. I know, billion-dollar industry, just me, right? I was addicted to porn and, you know, I was 15 minutes late everywhere,” Rock says. “When you watch too much porn, you know what happens? Here’s what happens. You become sexually autistic. You develop sexual autism. You have a hard time with eye contact and verbal cues.”

“What happens when you watch too much porn is you get desensitized,” he continues. “When you start watching porn, any porn’ll do. ‘Ah, they’re naked. Woo-hoo.’ Then, later on, you’re all fucked-up. And you need is a perfect porn cocktail to get you off. I was so fucked-up, I need an Asian girl with a black girl’s ass that speaks Spanish just to get my dick to move an inch. I’m a lot better now.”

Porn addiction wasn’t the only reason Rock’s 16-year-old marriage to Malaak Compton-Rock ended in 2014. The divorce was finalized in August 2016. Rock talks about being unfaithful to his wife at one point in the Netflix special, referring to himself as an “asshole.” The comedian admits his money and fame falsely led him to believe that he could do anything he wanted and get away with it, which wasn’t the case when it came to his marriage.

“I’m a fuckin’ asshole, man. I didn’t listen. I wasn’t kind. I cheated,” Rock says. “Yeah, I’m serious. I’m not bragging. I’d go on the road, end up sleeping with three different women. It’s, like, fucked-up. When guys cheat, we want something new. But then your woman finds out, and now she’s new. She’s never the same again. So, now you got new, but you got bad new. You got bad fuckin’ new, man.”

“Every woman in here is like, “Fuck you, Chris. I thought you was all right. You? Come on, Chris. What the fuck is wrong with you? What the fuck is wrong with men?” Rock continues.

“Chris Rock: Tamborine” is now streaming on Netflix.

Chris Rock turns in half of a great special with his Netflix comeback

Appearing on Hannibal Buress’ podcast back in September, Chris Rock talked shop about the relatively small venue he’d chosen for Tamborine, his first stand-up special in a decade, and his first in a lucrative two-special deal with Netflix. Rock told Buress that the Brooklyn Academy Of Music’s comparatively homey…

Read more…

Appearing on Hannibal Buress’ podcast back in September, Chris Rock talked shop about the relatively small venue he’d chosen for Tamborine, his first stand-up special in a decade, and his first in a lucrative two-special deal with Netflix. Rock told Buress that the Brooklyn Academy Of Music’s comparatively homey…

Read more...

Chris Rock’s 1st stand-up special in 10 years will be on Netflix just in time for Valentine’s Day

If you’re having trouble planning a romantic night out for Valentine’s Day, Netflix has some news that might persuade you to stay in tomorrow. On February 14, the streaming platform will release a new stand-up special from Chris Rock, his first in 10 years.

Read more…

If you’re having trouble planning a romantic night out for Valentine’s Day, Netflix has some news that might persuade you to stay in tomorrow. On February 14, the streaming platform will release a new stand-up special from Chris Rock, his first in 10 years.

Read more...

Netflix’s ‘Tamborine’ Explained! Chris Rock’s New Comedy Special to Premiere This Week

Chris Rock is back and, hopefully, better than ever.

The comedy king announced Tuesday his first stand-up special in 10 years, “Chris Rock: Tamborine,” is coming to Netflix on Wednesday. For those not in the know, that’s Valentine’s Day. Yes, you’re welcome.

Rock revealed the big news via social media, with a video explaining that the mysterious “Tamborine” teasers the premium streaming service has been throwing at users for over a week are promos for his surprise special.

Also Read: What the Hell Is Netflix’s ‘Tamborine’? Here Are Some of the Best Guesses

“Chris Rock: Tamborine” is directed by Bo Burnham and was filmed at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

And in case you are still confused about this “Tamborine” promotion, here is an explanation that no longer makes sense.

Watch Rock’s teaser for the special below.

“Chris Rock: Tamborine” will drop on Netflix on Wednesday.

Tomorrow. Tamborine. @netflixisajoke pic.twitter.com/RPVhPv5mmq

— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) February 13, 2018

Related stories from TheWrap:

What the Hell Is Netflix’s ‘Tamborine’? Here Are Some of the Best Guesses

Mary J Blige Joins Netflix Superhero Series ‘The Umbrella Academy’

‘Daily Show’ Contributor Michelle Wolf Grabs Netflix Weekly Late-Night Series

‘Sabrina’ Fans: Here’s Your First Look at Salem the Cat in Netflix Reboot (Photo)

Chris Rock is back and, hopefully, better than ever.

The comedy king announced Tuesday his first stand-up special in 10 years, “Chris Rock: Tamborine,” is coming to Netflix on Wednesday. For those not in the know, that’s Valentine’s Day. Yes, you’re welcome.

Rock revealed the big news via social media, with a video explaining that the mysterious “Tamborine” teasers the premium streaming service has been throwing at users for over a week are promos for his surprise special.

“Chris Rock: Tamborine” is directed by Bo Burnham and was filmed at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

And in case you are still confused about this “Tamborine” promotion, here is an explanation that no longer makes sense.

Watch Rock’s teaser for the special below.

“Chris Rock: Tamborine” will drop on Netflix on Wednesday.

Related stories from TheWrap:

What the Hell Is Netflix's 'Tamborine'? Here Are Some of the Best Guesses

Mary J Blige Joins Netflix Superhero Series 'The Umbrella Academy'

'Daily Show' Contributor Michelle Wolf Grabs Netflix Weekly Late-Night Series

'Sabrina' Fans: Here's Your First Look at Salem the Cat in Netflix Reboot (Photo)