It was a rock star reception that welcomed US comedy icon Chris Rock back to the Australian stage, and although it had been nine years since stand-up visits, he made it immediately clear he hadn’t lost his edge. “Your Aboriginal stuff is fucked up – ‘We know how to treat people like shit.’ What the fuck!” And he didn’t slow down from there.
After some organic, local references, it was onto US politics and gun control. Comics have done Trump’s rein of terror to death, but Rock unpacked it differently to others; like most items on the Total Blackout agenda, it was broken down into relatable terms that actually generated thought-provoking punchlines.
There was less urgency and laugh-out-loud moments throughout the set and more engaging dialogue – a newfound pace that gave shocking one-liners and crude observational humour more punch, ultimately rendering the perfect balance.
It was the personal material that really won over the crowd, as Rock delved into the details surrounding his divorce, custody battle and dating at 52; an intimacy that might partly explain the strict phone ban – all punters forced to have their phone locked into a Yondr pouch that would be unlocked on the way out.
It’s clear Rock is still feeling out the material in Total Blackout (as evident by a secret gig a night earlier trying out new bits), but if you cut the best material together from the lengthy show, you’d have some of his most solid work to date.
Chris Rock will perform in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney over the next week. Check out theGuide for all the info.