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Directed by Marty Callner
Starring: Chris Rock

When you ask fans of comedy what are some of their favorite stand up performances are, you will hear many answer Eddie Murphy’s Delirious, or Richard Pryor’s Live and Smokin’ (1971) or even Steve Martin’s Let’s Get Small. How does Chris Rock’s latest HBO special stack up? I gave Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger, a recent HBO Home Video release, a spin.

The Show

Chris Rock and the director and producers of this show tried something different. Chris Rock performed the same set at New York, London, England and Johannesburg (South Africa) and all three performances are weaved together for this production, allowing the audience to witness how Rock’s observances, stories and jokes are received and responded to in different countries and cultures. Not only are jokes received differently, but Rock’s delivery differs and that is interesting to note. Some viewers have found the manner in which this is assembled to be too “jumpy” or disconcerting, I for one found the experiment interesting and got use to the presentation easily.

Rock covers everything from his embarrassing love of Gwen Stefani and No Doubt to President Bush, John Mc Cain, Sarah Palin and other political targets.

Rock hasn’t lost his bravery in tackling racial issues and has a lengthy section of his act discussing who and why can someone use a racial term for African Americans versus someone using the word “faggot” to describe a gay or lesbian person.

While several of the jokes in this section are funny, it pales in comparison to the social commentary of his earlier stand up Bring the Pain. In that routine, Rock said some brutal truths and observances and received not only accolades but fierce criticism from some of his fellow African American comedians and audience and since that time, he comes out swinging, but seems to be holding back somehow.

Some people are going to be offended at the level of profanity in this show. I ask you: Why are you watching a Chris Rock special? I know that Bill Cosby wants to challenge comedians to work completely clean and leave the “blue” material behind. My response to that is if Cosby wants to do it, then he is guaranteed to fill seats for those wanting that or makes some bucks doing a clean show for CBS on a Sunday Night that your Grandma might enjoy. The rest of us are fine with the language and profane subject matter.

While I enjoyed this special overall, I miss Rock’s earlier work, like the before mentioned Bring the Pain. It seemed more edgy and bold than this work. But, there are still some funny moments and when Rock is firing on all cylinders, it is hard to find a smarter or more observant social commentator.

So, I still would say give this a try. It just doesn’t have to be part of the permanent collection.


The Video

This is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen. The transfer is first rate and the colors are vibrant. The level of detail is impressive and I did not notice any instances of grain or artifacts. I did not notice any murkiness in the darker aspects of the show.


The Audio

The audio is presented in English 2.0. Why not 5.1, HBO? Anyway, the audio is adequate but not dynamic. You will hear every syllable of those dirty words crystal clear and doesn’t make the jokes any less funny.


The Packaging and Bonus Features

Presented in a standard amaray case, the artwork is tastefully understated.

There is a 3 disc version with tons of bonus material, but in this single DVD release, there is only a trailer for another Rock standup special Never Scared.


Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10

The Review
The Show 6.5/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 6.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 1/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10