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Conversations in a Vacuum

Esquire's Scott Raab and comedian Chris Rock talk about stand-up comedy, the evolution of black acting, and those Tea Party racists.

8:04 AM, Feb 22, 2011 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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There are a few interesting nuggets in the Chris Rock Esquire interview. But this little exchange between magazine contributor Scott Raab and the actor-comedian makes them sound, well, let's just say a bit insular.

Conversations in a Vacuum

"Like many nice Caucasians," says Raab, "I cried the night Barack Obama was elected. It was one of the high points in American history. And all that's happened since the election is just a s—tstorm of hatred. You want to weigh in on that?" To which Rock replies, "I actually like it, in the sense that—you got kids? Kids always act up the most before they go to sleep. And when I see the Tea Party and all this stuff, it actually feels like racism's almost over. Because this is the last—this is the act up before the sleep. They're going crazy. They're insane. You want to get rid of them—and the next thing you know, they're f—g knocked out. And that's what's going on in the country right now." To which Raab adds, "I hope so. Because it seems like a lot of people feel they just can't live with this man being president."

No need to explain why the Tea Party is racist. They just are—it's a given. And if the president loses reelection, we'll know whom to blame—all those not-so-nice Caucasians! And yes, the interviewer admits that he wept. (I, myself, cried at the end of La Bamba.)

The political detour is unfortunate since Rock does have interesting things to say about stand-up comedy, whom he likes (at the moment, it's Louis C.K. and Hannibal Buress), and the fickleness of Hollywood.

No one announces you can't do something anymore. I remember I used to see Christian Slater movies all the time. One day they just stopped making 'em. He didn't get a memo. No one passes you a note. I remember having Jimmie Walker hats when I was a kid, lunch box, shirt, loose-leaf—you think he was warned? No. You think, Oh, I haven't worked in six months, I'll get a job next week. Oh, I haven't worked in a year, now I got to really concentrate on it. It's like finding out somebody cheated on you. Somebody tells you, you overhear it at the f—g coffee shop...

(I, too, owned a Jimmy Walker hat when I was a kid. It was made of denim and simply said, "Dyn-o-mite.")

Raab wonders if Eddie Murphy serves as a cautionary tale. Says Rock,

When he wants it, nobody's funnier than him. No one's even close to him. I just went through a little exercise where I watched a bunch of old movies, like from the '80s. The only ones that held up were the Murphy movies. A Murphy movie is like a Sidney Poitier comedy—he's that intensely good... He revolutionized acting. He's literally black Brando. Before Eddie Murphy, there were two schools of acting for a black actor: Either you played it LIKE THIS or youplayeditlahkdis. He was the first black guy in a movie to talk like I am talking to you right now. Just like we're talking right now. That did not exist for black actors before him. Good Times is a good show for that: It was either John Amos or Jimmie Walker; that's what black acting was.

At least they didn't talk about how Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and the Tea Party ordered Jared Loughner to shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. I guess Raab knew that, too, was a given.

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