Chris Rock returns with "Tamborine"

He’s back.  It’s been 10 years of waiting since his last stand-up special, so this past Valentine’s Day, Netflix released Chris Rock’s, hour long, “Tamborine.” After Rock’s “Total Blackout” tour in 2017 and all the specials he’s done in the past, viewers were expecting a certain Chris Rock. He was known to have flashy suits, big set pieces, and a huge sold out theatre. Those expectations were shattered when Rock stepped onto the stage of a small auditorium in a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers.

Rock is known to joke about what’s happening with celebrities, popular culture, and everything going on in our country, as with all comedians. This stand-up special, however, took a turn when Rock started to address his own personal demons and his struggles in the last year, including his divorce. This was a bit of a turn-off to many viewers as they’re not used to this side of Rock, and it wasn’t funny.

Directed by Bo Burnham, the show opens with a joke about cops only shooting black children and that every once in a while, they should shoot a white kid to make them look good, and to make it seem like there’s balance. Rock said “I wanna live in a world where an equal amount of white kids are shot in a month. An equal world. I wanna see white mothers crying on TV.” With the school shooting in Florida happening on the same day as this stand-up release, the jokes came off as “too soon.” Although there was nothing that could be done about the Netflix release and the shooting occurring on the same day, it’s hard to find this funny.

His segway into his family answered fans questions on where he’d been all these years. After just taking his daughter to high school orientation, he’s been busy being a father.     

Rock said that kids of different races should have different orientations because when they’re all together, it’s not realistic of what high school is like. At Lola’s high school, they said that there is a zero tolerance for bullies and Rock goes on to say that we need bullies to teach kids how the real world works.

He then goes on to say that Trump got where he is today because he is a bully, and that is when the show shifted from being about what it’s like being black today, to the political and religious jokes. Rock said “Bush was so bad, so we got Obama. And now because Trump is so bad we’ll get Jesus.”

That’s when the show took a turn. Rock addressed how he ruined his marriage; a turning point in his material.  The overall empathy from the crowd was evident as the mood changed from  fun and light-hearted, to serious and sad. He opens up, which had never happened in his past shows, and how it changed him as a person. 

It’s clear Rock has grown, as clear as him not being the same comedian we’ve known and loved.