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Selective Outrage - review

Stagnant comedic delivery

By Q-ell BettonPublished 12 months ago 3 min read

Pretty much every entertainer who considers themselves within the realm of comedy had an opinion about this incident. Truthfully, the incident garnered comments from those who would normally pay scant interest in the going ons in Hollywood.

Every black comedian, especially those identifying as male, had voiced a view on the incident. For the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or the Oscars, as it is better known, it was possibly the best thing to have happened since the inception of the internet.

When Chris Rock made an innocuous joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith, equating her balding pate to the much admired at the time, military crop adopted by Demi Moore for her 1997 lead role in G. I. Jane, many younger viewers in the audience at the awards were confused, the joke going over their heads.

Not that it mattered. A comedian in his mid-fifties, hosting an awards ceremony that had been becoming less relevant year on year, making moderately funny or cringeworthy jokes is not noteworthy.

What happened next garnered the Oscars the most attention it has had in decades. Will Smith's slap of Rock was news for a week. It dominated social media, inviting commentary from any and everybody who created content online.

The one person who did not comment about the incident was Rock. As the majority of the media focused on Smith, the bigger star, both physically and in terms of status, Rock kept his own counsel, until now.

Almost a year on from the slap heard around the world, Rock has responded to the fateful assault via comedy. In his latest comedy special, filmed live for Netflix, Rock addresses the controversy.

In the show, Selective Outrage, a title designed to pique the interest and tease at what is to come, Rock, dressed head to toe in white and rocking a necklace with a diamond-encrusted pendant of the late Prince's symbol, works the stage in Baltimore.

He opens with words that hint at the slap but expertly segway into a humourous monologue that warns of the power of words and wokeness. Touching on the subject of drugs, the lies of companies, attention deficit, plus allegorical references.

He talks about the western obsession with victimhood, talks racism through Meghan Markle's alleged oppression from the royal family and colourism. He switches smoothly to black racism and the Kardashian's acceptance of everybody.

He covers the divisiveness in America, the rights to abortion, humankind, and his spoilt daughters, all in his trademark edge-of-angry delivery style. The entire show is a prelude to his finale, addressing the slap.

The question is, is it worth it? Should you just forward to the final ten minutes? Maybe. Rock's stand-up peak was at the end of the nineties. Bring The Pain and Bigger And Blacker are his two stand-out shows, showing Rock at the peak of his powers.

Selective Outrage is funny but it is not peak Rock funny. There is not enough standout material for one to recommend the show to a friend. Most will watch the highlights on YouTube or some other video-hosting site.

Rock's persona, delivery and style have remained stagnant. Though the material is somewhat current, the delivery remains dated giving an impression of a comedian who has not evolved at the same rate as some of his contemporaries.

Rock is closer to Eddie Murphy's era than that of, current black superstar, Kevin Hart. He made his film debut in Murphy's Beverley Hill Cop series, being only four years the junior of the veteran comedian. Dave Chapelle, his junior by eight years, has molded his comedy, changing his delivery with time.

That said, Selective Outrage is a servicable stand-up comedy show that zips through its hour-plus runtime comfortably. It is not Rock at his best, nor does it elicit much thinking as the best comedy does, but the show is good.


About the Creator

Q-ell Betton

I write stuff. A lot.

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