At another point during the show, he noted how so many people are addicted to “attention” by playing victim at every turn. He then called Will Smith “Suge Smith,” referencing Suge Knight, the violent hip-hop record executive currently serving 28 years for voluntary manslaughter.
“Ali hit me,” Rock added, noting a role Smith had taken two decades earlier. “I took it and went to work the next day.”
But “The Slap” took up less than 90 seconds of his 80-minute show, which tackled a wide swath of issues, both serious and silly. This go-around, he didn’t go after any particularly unusual targets, spending ample time mocking America’s obsession with the British royal family and getting huge laughs cracking wise about the Kardashians and their love of Black men.
He focused more on just funny jokes over breaking any new ground or whipping up any real controversy. He lauded Atlanta’s gay rap star Lil Nas X. He said multiple times he was “pro trans,” in pointed contrast to his friend Dave Chappelle, who has shown no compunction making transphobic jokes.
Before hitting the stage, Rock aired music videos with images of his favorite stand-up influences such as Redd Foxx, George Carlin and Richard Pryor. It’s not unfair to say Rock, now 57, has earned his place in that echelon of stand-up comedy legends going back to his 1996 HBO special “Bring the Pain,” which won him two Emmys. Since then, critics over the years have consistently lauded his sharp observational humor.
So while Rock is not at his most provocative peak, he kept the crowd fully engaged from beginning to end, no matter what the topic.
Early on, he briefly touched on abortion, noting that when he was younger, he paid for so many abortions that he had a loyalty punch card at the clinic and after five abortions, he got a free smoothie. And he observed, “If you have to pay for your own abortion, you need to get an abortion.”
He acknowledged his own privileged status as a wealthy celebrity but still identifies as poor. “My pronoun,” he said, “is broke.”
His two daughters, he said, have grown up rich in comparison. “I have nothing in common with them,” he cracked. His youngest daughter’s kindergarten teacher, he said, was teaching her about the four seasons and she said, “That’s my favorite hotel!”
Rock remembered as a kid taking a church trip to Disney World in a bus with no air conditioning. “Our hotel was in Alabama!” he joked. His daughters, in comparison, get the Disney “VIP package, the Illuminati package,” which meant front-of-the-line access to all the rides, strolling by all the “fat, white people.”
He barely touched upon COVID, briefly noting how so many people avoid the vaccine by stating their own expert knowledge on the subject. One of his skeptical brothers, for instance, told him: “I don’t know what’s in it.”
Rock’s retort: “I don’t know what’s in Froot Loops and I still eat it. What I do know is not in Froot Loops: fruit!”
His political set pieces were amusing, if not trenchant.
For instance, he jokingly blamed Hillary Clinton for all that is wrong with America today. God, he said, gave her a chance to win the 2008 presidential election against a Black man with a Muslim name nobody had heard of as long as she visited all 50 states during her campaign. She did not. She lost. Then God gave her another shot in 2016 by pitting her against a “game show host whose show had been canceled” and hair that was created by a “cotton candy machine” as long as she visited all the states. Again, she didn’t. And she lost.
And to save America, the Democrats, he said, had to take Biden off a pedestal, joking that he had already been dead 16 years in 2020. Rock showed off some of his best physical humor of the night by pretending to remove himself from the statue base and walking around like Frankenstein.
Rock last visited the Fox Theatre in 2017 soon after his divorce to his wife, Malaak Compton-Rock, after 20 years. At that show, he admitted he had cheated on her, acknowledging his arrogance and inability to place her needs first. This time around, he talked more about the challenges of dating in his 50s.
He said the appeal of dating a woman at age 25 is she just wants nice shoes. But a 45-year-old woman is far more expensive, he said. “She’ll ask me, ‘Can you fix my roof?’” And in the #MeToo era, he said he has to be extra careful. After having sex, he’ll send a text to the woman to make sure she had a good time as well. “Then I immediately send those texts to my attorney!” he said. “I need the receipts!”