Monday, September 14, 2009

TIFF 2009: An Afternoon with Chris Rock

An Afternoon with Chris Rock, Isabel Bader Theatre

Chris Rock is so much better than the tired display I saw today with Thom Powers, an uneasy interviewer, who seemed intimidated by Rock. Really, who wouldn't be a little? All that pressure to be funny up against this guy. This was part of the Mavericks series where a TIFF staff member speaks to a filmmaker. Rock is promoting his doc "Good Hair" about black women and their relationship with their hair. I really wanted to see this film but couldn't get tickets. Luckily, it will be out in October.

The room was packed and enthusiastic but an odd note was struck when the interviewer kicked off the session by asking how Rock liked Toronto and he responded, "What do you do in this town?" Crickets, crickets, not a titter or word from the crowd. It seemed an odd response.

And I thought the approach by this interviewer was wrongheaded. Why ask Rock about Obama's performance so far? If things have improved for blacks? Whether health care reform will pass? He is an entertainer, not a politician. He is a well informed comic with a strong political slant but, still, he is a comic.

Maybe he thought the questions were silly too because I found Rock's answers laconic and not very thoughtful. He was better when making rude and seemingly off the cuff remarks such as:
  • Joe Jackson was a better dad than Michael Jackson. At least Joe was able to get up in the middle of the night when the kids had a bad nightmare unlike Michael who was too narced out. Not funny! a woman screamed into my ear after he said this.
  • The American public looks at George Bush Jr. today like an old boyfriend they can't believe they used to date.
  • Black men don't care about good or bad hair ... they are more concerned with a*s ... the interviewer suggested a new doc "Good A*s".
  • He says he refuses to criticize Kanye West for his ridiculous attack on Taylor Swift at the MTV Music Video Awards because he doesn't want to end up in a rap song about what a lousy comic he is.
  • When asked what he said to his daughter who came to him and said she didn't have "good hair" like her friend (which prompted the creation of the film), he replied "It's like when my wife says so and so has a nice house. I tell her, you know, you have a nice house too ..."
I left feeling oddly ripped off. I should have saved my money and bought a DVD of his concert Kill the Messenger. Now that was funny.

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