5 Quotes From Chris Rock's 'New York' Magazine Interview That Make It Absolutely Essential Reading

It doesn't happen quite as often as we who write for the Internet might like to think that it does, but every once in a while an interview comes along that is essential reading. Chris Rock's interview with Frank Rich in New York Magazine is one of those mandatory readings. There's a lot of upheaval in the air in the realms of race, politics, and comedy right now — arguably always, but it's especially noticeable at the moment — and Rock touches on all of it. Ferguson? Check. Obama and the midterm elections? Check. Bill Cosby and the glut of comedians we've lost in different ways this year? Check.

Rock speaks his mind, and it's lucky for all of us that it's such a good one. Not everyone is going to agree with 100 percent of what he says — now or ever — but his thoughts on race relations, class division, and the mechanics of Hollywood are all coming from someone who's been at the front lines of it and seen it first hand. It's been a rough run of late when it comes to current events, and it's in times like these when there's a lot of value in just sitting back and listening. So here are a few of my favorite bits from the lengthy conversation:

On American racial progress (emphasis mine)

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Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.
So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

On income inequality:

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If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.

On finding subjects for stand-up

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Rock: You keep notes. You look for the recurring. What’s not going away? Boy, this police-brutality thing — it seems to be lingering. What’s going to happen here? You don’t even have the joke, you just say, “Okay, what’s the new angle that makes me not sound like a preacher?” Forget being a comedian, just act like a reporter. What’s the question that hasn’t been asked? How come white kids don’t get shot? Have you ever watched television and seen some white kid get shot by accident?
Rich: And out of that comes comedy.
Rock: Comes humor. You laughed right away. I just asked a question that no one had ever asked.

On presidents and women in late night

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But you know, I’m absolutely ready for a woman president. I’m ready for a woman nighttime-talk-show host, to tell you the truth. I wonder which will be first.

And in fun facts that made me wish I had a time machine, Rock almost made a movie with Nora Ephron

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There’s a sprinkle of Ephron in [Top Five]. Just a sprinkle. I can’t pour on too much Ephron. She and I used to talk about making a movie all the time. She always used to say to me, “Are you ready to walk? That’s the only way we’re going to make a movie. We’re going to have to do a lot of walking and talking.”
She would’ve directed it. I wanted her to direct me really bad. I’d love to do a Nancy Meyers movie.

I highly urge you to go and read the entire interview right this second. For real: Go read it.

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