Chris Rock is quite possibly the most important comic of all time. There are quite a few entertainers that have shown up in the public spotlight over the past few years that have blurred the lines between comic, social satirist and political lecturer. Bill Maher and Dennis Miller come to mind. However, Chris Rock is a special comedian, due to his masterful knowledge of how to manipulate an audience. Anybody can make wise cracks about racial differences, but it takes a special person to be able to change the minds of …is audience with a single joke.
Rock has discovered that you can be as honest and brutal about any topic that you want to breach, so long as your comments are funny. Lucky for him, he’s very, very funny. This particular program, his fourth for HBO, is not as purely comical as his previous efforts, but that doesn’t mean that it is any less entertaining. In fact, I believe that this may be the best one of the four, as Rock feels more comfortable saying exactly what he wants to say, and is less concerned with confronting subjects that can easily divide an audience, such as abortion and politics.
Where most political comedians like to shove their beliefs down the throats of their audiences, Rock plays the field fairly, poking fun at conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats. He also scores big points with me for having intelligent points to back up his arguments. He is able to teach and entertain. He uses his platform as a prominent black figure to educate those who would not normally listen to the issues in a more stoic forum. When Bill Cosby says that black teenagers spend too much money on shoes, he is seen as a racist. When Chris Rock says that black men spend too much money on chrome rims, he is met with wild applause.
This is a smart, poignant, and insightful performance by one of America’s truly great comedians. Were it not for the strong language used throughout the performance, I would say that this should be standard viewing for all Americans. In fact, I might say that anyway.
This disc features a respectable audio program, including a Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack. I don’t think that anybody comes to a comedy concert expecting to be presented with a full-blown 5.1 mix, but this 5.0 offering is quite close. In fact, this track is so clear that the addition of the subwoofer channel would have actually made a noticeable difference in the quality of the program’s audio.
That being said, the audio here is fantastic. The sound stage is wide and full across the front of house, and there is even a little use of the surrounds to create a nice reverb effect. The dialog is obviously bright and clear, and it is not overpowered by the laughter coming from the audience; a problem that occurs all too often on comedy DVDs. This is not a disc that I would use to show off my home theater, but it certainly performs respectably well for a comedy DVD nonetheless.
The video quality on this disc is nothing short of outstanding. The only improvement that could have been made would be the addition of a widescreen presentation, but here again, there is just no need. The colors on the screen are simply excellent. Everything is bright, but nothing bleeds. The picture is incredibly sharp and crystal clear, with no grain, dust, scratches or blemishes present at all. Even the lighting is perfect, with an interesting mix of stage lighting and bottom-lighting that removes all shadows from Rock’s face, no matter where he roams to on the stage. The picture quality is finished off by a multitude of camera angles that keep the visuals interesting and involving throughout the performance. Top notch.
Most comedy DVDs don’t have a single extra. While this disc does not exactly include a groundbreaking collection of added material, it does include more than most. The performance itself includes a full 15 minutes of additional material that was trimmed out of the original HBO broadcast. This is a trend that seems to have started with the release of Friends on DVD, and it is one that I am pleased to see continuing on other genres of home entertainment as well.
The big extra, however, is the inclusion of Rock’s first solo performance on HBO in its entirety. This performance makes a nice bookend to the feature, and shows how much he has matured as a comedian. Also surprising is the fact that some of those Michael Jackson jokes are still relevant all these years later.
This performance marks a bit of a departure for Rock, as he matures as a comedian and as a man. The truth behind the humor is more prevalent this time around however, which may disappoint some viewers. For those that are interested in smart comedy with a powerful message, this is unquestionably the disc for you.
Special Features List
- Exclusive Unseen Footage
- Bonus Performance