Chris Rock returned to host Saturday Night Live this weekend, and as usual, he managed to stir up some controversy. During the cold open he launched into a monologue which wasted no time in taking on subjects which quickly had the media asking if he had “gone too far” with his comedy. The big sticking point was his new routine about the Freedom Tower.
“They should change the name from the Freedom Tower to the Never Going in There Tower. Cause I’m never going in there. There is no circumstance under which I will be going in there. Are you kidding me? Does this building duck? What are they thinking? Who’s the corporate sponsor, Target? Stop it. In the same spot they put another skyscraper? What kind of arrogant Floyd Mayweather crap is this? What businesses are they going to put in the Freedom Tower? They’re going to put some mandatory stuff in there… stuff you can’t get out of like the IRS. Family court. DMV. Because if they put a Sunglass Hut in there it’s going to be empty.”
He also raised a few hackles by invoking memories of the Boston Marathon bombing.
“Twenty six miles! You’ve been training for a year. You finally get to the finish line and somebody screams, RUN! That is horrible, man.”
He later went on to perform in a skit where he portrayed a member of ISIS trying to make a pitch to the cast of The Shark Tank looking for funding for the terrorist organization. You may be sensing a theme by now.
I can understand, I suppose, how all of this has people up on their hind legs saying Too much! Too soon! But that’s really just what Chris Rock has always been about. The guy is a comedian, and personally I’ve always found him to be hilarious. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every one of his specials and I still maintain that he is one of the funniest comics of his generation. Does he offend people sometimes? Of course. But then, I’ve heard plenty of liberals screaming that Ron White is offensive, particularly when he makes jokes about the death penalty or his less than flattering portrayals of women. (Particularly his ex-wives.) For what it’s worth, I love Ron White’s work too.
If you are readily offended by the material which comedians develop, it’s probably best to avoid comedy clubs and specials. It’s part of the genre for many of them. And there are also comics who work a lot cleaner and have more family friendly material, should you prefer that. (Jim Gafigan is probably a prime example.)
Drawing attention is part of how comics like Chris Rock expand and maintain their brand. I’m just not getting upset about it. Anyway… here’s the video. Decide for yourself.