Chris Rock: “Let’s Hope America Keeps Producing Nicer White People”
Chris Rock opens up about Ferguson, “racial progress” in America, Bill Cosby’s sexual assault scandal, and why comedy is “not as much fun as it used to be” in a new interview with New York magazine. The Top Five star tells the outlet that he would “love” to be a journalist in Ferguson right now.
Rocks says that if he were a “60 Minutes” correspondent, he would do a “special on race,” but he wouldn’t interview any black people. He explains, “When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.”
He continues, “So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years.” Rock adds, “The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.”
Rock notes that political correctness is “stronger than ever,” saying that he is no longer playing colleges because “they’re way too conservative.” He elaborates, “Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of ‘We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.’ Or just ignoring race to a fault.” He adds, “You can’t say ‘the black kid over there.’ No, it’s ‘the guy with the red shoes.’ You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.” The comedian says he began to notice this trend almost a decade ago. “It was just like, ‘This is not as much fun as it used to be,'” he recalls. “I remember talking to George Carlin before he died and him saying the exact same thing.”
Rock says social media and cell phones have forced comedians into self-censorship. “It is scary,” he says, “because the thing about comedians is that you’re the only ones who practice in front of a crowd. Prince doesn’t run a demo on the radio. But in stand-up, the demo gets out.” Rock explains that there are only a few guys who are “good enough” that they can write a perfect act before getting on stage. “Everybody else workshops it and workshops it, and it can get real messy,” he says. “It can get downright offensive. Before everyone had a recording device and was wired like f*cking Sammy the Bull, you’d say something that went too far, and you’d go, ‘Oh, I went too far,’ and you would just brush it off.” He adds, “But if you think you don’t have room to make mistakes, it’s going to lead to safer, gooier stand-up. You can’t think the thoughts you want to think if you think you’re being watched.”
Rock also discusses Robin Williams and Joan Rivers’ deaths, as well as Cosby’s downfall. “Comedians kill themselves,” Rock says of Williams’ suicide. “Talk to 100 comedians this week, everybody knows somebody who killed themselves. I mean, we always say ignorance is bliss. Well, if so, what’s the opposite? Some form of misery. Being a comedian, 80 percent of the job is just you notice sh*t, which is a trait of schizophrenics too.”
As for Rivers, Rock says she was a “great person” and an “underrated comedian.” He feels, “Who the hell’s funnier than Joan Rivers?… The compliment you give of a comedian is: Who wants to follow them onstage? Nobody wanted to follow Joan Rivers, ever. Even in her 80s, nobody wanted to follow her.”
Regarding Cosby’s sexual assault scandal, he says, “I don’t know what to say. What do you say? I hope it’s not true. That’s all you can say. I really do. I grew up on Cosby. I love Cosby, and I just hope it’s not true. It’s a weird year for comedy. We lost Robin, we lost Joan, and we kind of lost Cosby.” What do you think of Rock’s interview with New York?