Click here for updates on the evolving COVID-19 situation at Rice
Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Saturday, September 26, 2020 — Houston, TX °

Chris Rock’s humor remains rock-solid in ‘Tamborine’

14chrisrocknetflixw710h473

By ​Simona Matovic     3/6/18 11:48pm

Chris Rock has been a huge name in comedy for decades now, and his latest standup special suggests he’s capable of staying relevant for years to come. The Netflix exclusive’s unconventionally spelled title alludes to a recurring joke in the show: Relationships are like bands — even if your role is as simple as playing the tambourine, stick to it and play passionately. While Rock admits his failure to be a good bandmate, which led to his divorce, he is as successful as ever as a comedian. In addition to relationships, Rock touches on race, parenting, gun legislation and religion. Effortless transitions make it possible to address this breadth of themes in a one-hour timeframe. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where one subject ends and the next begins because of how seamlessly they succeed one another. Moreover, Rock possesses an alchemic gift for transforming the seriousness of these topics into seriously funny content.

Throughout the special, I don’t think there was a single 10-minute stretch where I didn’t chuckle. Yet, if I were to attempt to retell most of Rock’s numerous, accessible jokes, I doubt it would receive any response. This is because most of the magic seems to lie in Rock’s unquantifiably excellent comedic timing. Every breath, pause and movement is essential. Rock’s extensive experience enables his delivery to come across as natural, even though the effectiveness of each word implies careful calculation behind its selection. When Rock speculates that Mark Zuckerberg was bullied in middle school and that helped lead to his success, I found myself snorting at “Zuck-zuck-zuckerfuck” — a punch line that, on paper, seems far more asinine than amusing.

Furthermore, in the same way that many works of fiction require one to suspend disbelief, truly enjoying “Tamborine” requires recognizing the hyperbolic nature of some of Rock’s more provocative anecdotes. Rock starts his set by drawing attention to issues surrounding racial inequality in the criminal justice system, joking about how he’d like to see as many white kids killed by police as black kids. A white mom might not immediately laugh at Rock requesting a world in which a white mother appears on TV pleading, “We need justice for Chad, he was just coming home from racquetball practice.” But any viewer, regardless of demographic, can find the humor in this by taking a step back and realizing this simply never happens. It’s funny because it’s absurd, but Rock wants you to recognize the absurdity.



Rock isn’t provocative for the sake of being provocative — he wants the audience to question what the ridiculousness of the role reversal means about society. For this reason, if you watch the special with the intention of being offended, it’s fairly easy to take many of the jokes out of context and label them distasteful. But why would you? Rock forces awareness of the tendency to scrutinize satire in that he criticizes the hypersensitivity that serves as the basis for it. His objection to this attitude is a key element of his take on parenting — he insists that children should be raised to understand that nobody cares if they can code if they cry when their boss doesn’t say “Hi.”

In addition, Rock’s newest show is notable in that a significant part is highly personal. There are moments when unfunny details of his life — the reality of his divorce and fighting for custody of his children — elicit dead silence from the audience before he begins to mold them into setups for jokes. These moments of silence are striking in their ability to demonstrate that even if something is inherently unfunny, humor can successfully be used to frame it.

Overall, once you let your guard down and allow yourself to laugh, “Tamborine” is a hilarious and timely production. Yet, even if you were to hate it for some reason, it’s likely that Chris Rock would respond with the same advice he supposedly gives his children daily, “Nobody thinks you’re cute, nobody thinks you’re smart, nobody gives a fuck about your opinion.”

Tamborine is currently streaming on Netflix. Watch the trailer below:




More from The Rice Thresher

A&E 9/22/20 11:29pm
Rice students take the mic with independent podcasts

The beauty of podcasts comes from their convenience — plug in your headphones, press play and go about your day — you’ll find that more often than not, podcasts will fall seamlessly into your schedule. While plenty of Rice students have turned to podcasts to break up the monotony of their routine, a handful of owls have traded headphones for microphones and started shows of their own. If, like me, you’ve struggled to fill the empty stretches of silence of your days in quarantine, consider listening to these four podcasts created by your fellow Rice students.   

A&E 9/22/20 11:27pm
A First Look into the Moody’s Fall 2020 Exhibition: States of Mind: Art and American Democracy

What really is democracy? What does it mean to be a democracy and what does it entail? The Moody Center for the Arts’s new fall exhibition, “States of Mind: Art and American Democracy,” seeks to answer these questions, although perhaps not in the way you might imagine. Moody’s newest exhibit, organized by Associate Curator Ylinka Barotto, introduces new perspectives and angles from artists telling their own stories in their own ways, particularly focusing on national issues affecting Texas. Its goal is to drive new thoughts and deeper revelations in viewers. Art, after all, is not about giving direct answers, but coming to your own.  

A&E 9/22/20 11:22pm
Bakerites channel anxieties into art in new exhibit, “PANDEMIA”

Any other year, Baker College’s P-Quad would be bustling with people gathering to eat, study, and socialize. COVID-19 restrictions this semester have subdued some of that energy, but recently, students and faculty across Rice have been flocking there for an unexpected reason. For the next month, P-Quad will be home to PANDEMIA: an outdoor art exhibit featuring students’ perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic.  


Comments

Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.