Chris Rock is one of the funniest guys on the planet. Period. And it's a good thing the guy's a drop-dead brilliant comedian ... because he sure as hell can't act. (Seriously, I love Chris Rock, but have you ever watched his performances in stuff like Lethal Weapon 4, Head of State, or Down to Earth? Embarrassingly bad; the guy always seems like he's searching for some off-camera cue-cards.)
But enough of that critical stuff. Through his stand-up concerts and his hysterically funny HBO series, Rock has proved that he's got more than enough talent in specialty to forgive his shortcomings in another. Plus he's just a big, loud, likable lunatic, isn't he? All you need to see is Rock's 1996 concert Bring the Pain, 99's Bigger & Blacker, and 2004's Never Scared to witness a comic legend in the making. Like, up there with Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and George Carlin.
From 1997 to 2000, Rock hosted a weekly sketch show on HBO, and it quickly became the "water-cooler" show of the day. Much like Dave Chappelle's show did in more recent years, The Chris Rock Show was a bona-fide comedy sensation. Full of social satire, racial deflations, and outright silliness, The Chris Rock Show was beating Saturday Night Live at its own game, because it was bolder, braver, and a helluva lot more profane.
Flanked by a seriously funny cast of supporting characters (including Wanda Sykes, Mario Joyner, and Lance Crouther), Rock would sometimes dally in the skit-schtick and broad sketch comedy, but his best moments came when he'd take to the streets and interview "normal folks" on a variety of volatile issues. As usual, even the most taboo subjects wither before the power of intelligent comedy.
While the fans wait patiently for HBO to release the full season sets of The Chris Rock Show, we have a pair of "Best Of" specials that are packed to the gills with great material. Originally released separately, but now re-packaged into one box-set for those who need both volumes, Best of the Chris Rock Show is 2+ hours of raunchy Rock goodness.
1. Chris Rock Remembers
1. Main Title / Live CRTV
(* = My favorites. ** = One of the funniest things Rock has ever done.)
Video: The episodes are presented in their original fullscreen format, and the picture quality is pretty darn excellent.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Perfectly fine.
Extras: The Volume 2 DVD comes with an extra half-hour of Taxi Driver Confessions segments, in which Rock poses as a misbehaving cab driver, most of which are pretty damn funny. (A few bits are repeated from disc 1, but there's plenty of new stuff, too.) Both discs offer a textual Chris Rock Biography.
He's topical, he's ballsy, and he's willing to politely-yet-pointedly address some issues that are generally left under the carpet. Plus he's really freakin' funny, so if you don't own either of these "Best Of" platters yet, this newly-discounted 2-for-1 special is Highly Recommended across the board.
At least until the full season sets are released!