Evolution of Chris Rock fascinating to watch in new special: Schneller

Deeply personal standup set on Netflix has the veteran comedian sharing his own experience with infidelity and the aftermath.

The second half of Tamborine sees Chris Rock get deeply personal, imparting advice wrapped in jokes.


The second half of Tamborine sees Chris Rock get deeply personal, imparting advice wrapped in jokes.

The Show: Tamborine: Chris Rock (Netflix)

The Moment: Confessing

For the first half of this hour-long standup, Chris Rock dives headlong into race — “Some people say young Black men are an endangered species. But that’s not true, because endangered species are protected by the government.” Then he cuts to a truth: “It’s important that your Black son follows your instructions. It’s the difference between life and death.”

In the second half, he follows the same pattern about marital fidelity. He repeatedly says he wasn’t a good husband: “I didn’t listen. I wasn’t kind. I thought, ‘I pay for everything, I can do what I want.’ I cheated.”

The crowd murmurs.

“I’m not bragging,” Rock counters. “I was on the road, I ended up sleeping with three different women. When guys cheat, we want something new. But you know what happens? Your woman finds out — and now she’s new. She’s never the same again. So now you got bad new.”

It’s fascinating to watch an artist evolve via standup. As urgent and necessary as the first half of this show is, it’s not entirely surprising. You expect Rock to go there.

The deeply personal second half is the revelation. Especially Rock’s compulsion to impart advice. Sure, he wraps it in jokes. He follows up the serious “bad new” line with, “I know every woman in here is like, ‘You, Chris? I thought you were all right. What is wrong with you?’” Beat. “And every guy in here is going, ‘Three? That’s it?’”

But later, when he — Chris Rock, superstar — admits how scared he was in his custody hearing and confesses that it’s “humiliating, trying to prove your parenthood,” the flash of fear that crosses his face looks real indeed.

Johanna Schneller is a media connoisseur who zeroes in on pop-culture moments.

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