Sunday, February 25, 2018

Tamborine: Chris Rock Gets Deep

Comedy = Tragedy + Time. However, if you're Chris Rock, that equation doesn't matter. He'll take the latest tragedies and mine them for insightful social commentary and comedy gold. So sit back and enjoy his Netflix special, Tamborine. It's a wild hour that will make you laugh and then somberly reflect about the current state of the world.

Tamborine is certainly one of the more topical sets of stand-up comedy I've seen in a while. Rock has always been a brilliant comedian, but he is particularly laying into the fact that he's a black comedian and there's much to be said about the state of race in today's America. He is incredibly funny, but a lot of his jokes hit home truths about what a terrible thing it is to be a black man in this country. One of his best jokes is, "People say young black men are an endangered species. That isn't true, at least endangered species are protected by the government." You'll also find out why George Bush should be hailed as a black revolutionary; it's a twisted and hilarious piece of logic.

Rock notes how as a black man, he doesn't really get the celebrity treatment until the cops actually recognize him. He knows he has had a fortunate life, but he isn't going to pretend it still doesn't suck to be black, even if you are famous. And this concern has now moved on to the next generation - he has two daughters, and we get a hilarious segment on how to raise black children so they fear all white people. And also some thoughts on how schools are too soft on kids in general and we need to bring bullies back. There's even a diatribe about how true equality would mean that police would shoot more white kids and we'd have white moms on TV weeping about how they need more justice for Chad. Yeah, Chris Rock really knows how to walk that tightrope. 

The emotional meat of this special comes from Rock's thoughts on relationships and his divorce. He wasn't a faithful husband and he takes full responsibility for the dissolution of his marriage. That may not sound particularly funny, but it's Chris Rock, so he finds a way. He doles out surprisingly wonderful advice that all couples should follow if they want to ensure a stable relationship. The title of the special, Tamborine, comes from the notion that a relationship is like a band, and not everyone can be the lead singer all the time. Sometimes, you have to take a backseat to your partner and play the tamborine. And play it like you mean it. If you haven't seen Chris Rock giving it his best shot as a tamborine player, you haven't seen anything yet.

I'll stop this review before I give away the rest of his great jokes or insights. Tamborine is a solidly constructed stand-up set that you will want to revisit multiple times. My friend Eva, who recommended the special to me last Saturday, had already seen the special twice, and now I have followed suit because I needed to re-hear some of these jokes and marvel at them. There are no frills and flounces - this is just a man at the top of his game, on a stage, doing comedy for an hour. And it is enlightening, revolutionary, and cathartic, all in one go. Grab your tamborine and join in the fun. 

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