February 7, 1965
With material influenced by black comedy pioneers like Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx -- and a machine-gun delivery reminiscent ofSam Kinison and George Carlin -- Chris Rock has become one of the most successful and well-known stand-ups in modern comedy. He attacks subjects many comedians shy away from -- including politics, race and celebrity -- with fearless frankness and honesty. His routines often have the feel of sermons; Rock paces the stage and delivers long, often profane monologues in his inimitable style. He's often referred to as the "funniest man in America"; with Rock it doesn't feel like an overstatement.
Quick Chris Rock Facts:
- Rock was born in South Carolina but grew up primarily in Brooklyn, New York.
- He started doing stand-up in 1985.
- He joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1990, then left three years later to star on In Living Color.
- Rock has released four comedy albums, one book and has had five stand-up specials on HBO.
- He hosted his own HBO talk show, The Chris Rock Show from 1997 to 2000.
- Over the course of his career, Rock has won three Emmys and been nominated for 15 others.
- In 2005, Rock created and produced the autobiographical sitcom Everybody Hates Chris.
Chris Rock Discography:
- Born Suspect (1991)
- Roll With the New (1997)
- Bigger & Blacker (1999)
- Never Scared (2004)
Everybody Hates Chris Rock:
Christopher Julius Rock III was born in Andrews, South Carolina, in February of 1965. His family moved to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, at a young age, where Rock grew up listening to the comedy of his idols.
In 1985, he performed his first professional stand-up gig at New York's Catch a Rising Star. While continuing to work the clubs in the late '80s, Rock caught the eye of Eddie Murphy, who tutored the young comic and gave him small roles in both Beverly Hills Cop II (Rock's first film) and Boomerang.
Live From New York:
1991 was the year Rock really burst into the public consciousness. He joined the cast ofSaturday Night Live alongside fellow up-and-comers Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, David Spadeand Rob Schneider. While there, he created memorable characters like "Nat X" and Onski, the host of "I'm Chillin'".
The same year, Rock released his first stand-up album, Born Suspect. He also drew critical attention for his dramatic work as the drug-addicted "Pookie" in the urban crime drama New Jack City.
Returning to Stand-up:
By 1993, Rock had become frustrated with the lack of on-air opportunities at SNL and left the show to join the cast of Keenan Ivory Wayans' FOX sketch show In Living Color. The show was canceled shortly thereafter; coupled with the subsequent failure of the rap "mockumentary"CB4, which Rock wrote and starred in, the comic began to keep a low profile while getting back to work on his stand-up.
In 1994, HBO debuted Rock's first stand-up special, Big Ass Jokes. The special failed to catch on, however, and didn't have a major impact on Rock's career.
Chris Rock: The Funniest Man in America:
In 1996, Rock's second HBO special, Bring the Pain, premiered and changed the comedian's life forever. The special, which Rock had spent two years preparing, covered material from the O.J. Simpson trial to the state of race relations in America. It garnered rave reviews, reinvented Rock as the most biggest comedian working and helped make stand-up popular again aftervanishing in the early '90s. Bring the Pain won Rock two Emmy Awards.
The following year, Rock released the album Roll With the New, which featured material fromBring the Pain with new sketches. It won the Best Comedy Album Grammy in 1997.
Also in 1997, HBO began airing The Chris Rock Show, a comedy talk show that Rock hosted and interviewed guests. The show, which won an Emmy for writing in 1999, ran until 2000.
Rock's next HBO special, Bigger and Blacker, debuted in 1999 and was another big hit for the comedian. The album version of the stand-up special won the Best Comedy Album Grammy in 1999.
In the late '90s, Rock began returning to film work in major Hollywood films such as Lethal Weapon 4, Down to Earth, and Bad Company. His film work was never as successful as his stand-up career.
In 2003, Rock directed his first film, Head of State, which he also wrote. The film, co-starringBernie Mac, was a political comedy about the first black president. Though funny, the film was a box office disappointment.
Rock's fourth HBO special, Never Scared, premiered in 2004. The special was released as an album one year later, which won the 2005 Best Comedy Album Grammy Award -- making it Rock's third consecutive album to win the Grammy.
In 2005, Rock created, produced and lent his voice to the autobiographical sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, about the comedians Bed-Stuy upbringing. The show, which began on the UPN network before moving to the CW, was a critical hit and received multiple Golden Globe, People's Choice and Emmy nominations.
Rock's second film as a writer/director, I Think I Love My Wife, was released in 2007. The film, a remake of the French film Chloe in the Afternoon, was co-written by fellow comedian (and Chris Rock Show writer) Louis C.K., and marked a move towards more mature subject matter and storytelling for the comic. It, too, failed to make much of an impact on audiences.
Rock's fifth HBO special, Kill the Messenger, premiered in September of 2008.
Additional Chris Rock Facts
- Rock was voted the 5th Greatest Stand-up of
- All Time in a Comedy Central poll.
- Both Time and Entertainment Weekly have declared Rock "the funniest man in America."
- He hosted the MTV Video Music Awards for the first time in 1997.
- Rock hosted the Academy Awards in 2005.
- His brother, Tony, is also a popular stand-up comedian and actor.
- Rock's older brother, Charles, a life-long drug addict and alcoholic (who Rock has talked about in his comedy), passed away in 2006.