Chris Rock: Bio of the Stand-Up Comedian and SNL Alumni

He grew up with racism and bullying, and this served as fodder for his comedy. Rock stood out on the stand-up scene thanks to his distinctive flair, which merged influences like Richard Pryor and George Carlin, and his delivery style that mimicked sermons. His unrestrained exploration of topics like family, politics, class, sex and – of course – race relations shocked audiences, but appealed to everyone. Since his early stand-up days, he has become a comedy star on both the small and large screen. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the life and career of Chris Rock.
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Chris Rock: Bio of the Stand-Up Comedian and SNL Alumni

He is best known for his fearless and raw stand-up. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re taking a look at the life and career of Chris Rock.

Christopher Julius Rock III was born February 7th, 1965 in Andrews, South Carolina, but was raised in rough Brooklyn, New York neighborhoods. At his predominantly white high school, he excelled at writing but was confronted with racism and bullying. While this served him later as fodder for his comedy, it pushed Rock to drop out.

He eventually tried his luck at stand-up. Rock stood out thanks to his distinctive flair, which merged influences like Richard Pryor and George Carlin, and added a delivery style that mimicked sermons. His unrestrained exploration of topics like family, politics, class, sex and – of course – race relations shocked audiences, but appealed to everyone.

Eddie Murphy soon took this up-and-comer under his wing, and gave Rock his first ever film role in 1987, as a Playboy Mansion valet in “Beverly Hills Cop II.” The next year, Rock appeared in Keenan Ivory Wayans’ blaxploitation flick, “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.”

In 1990, Chris Rock got his big break: he became part of a group of new “Saturday Night Live” cast members that revived the struggling sketch show. Soon, he and Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and David Spade were christened the Bad Boys of SNL. Among Rock’s memorable performances were his talk show parodies like I’m Chillin’ and The Dark Side with Nat X, which both played up his focus on race.

As his mainstream visibility increased, Rock continued his stand-up. He was a recognizable face by the time he released his first comedy album, “Born Suspect,” in 1991. He then showed off his dramatic skills as a drug-addicted informant in “New Jack City,” and appeared alongside Eddie Murphy in 1992’s “Boomerang.”

Chris Rock was a household name, but was frustrated by the limitations of “SNL.” He left the show after three seasons to guest star on “In Living Color,” before its sudden cancellation later in 1993.

Rock then decided to change his luck by co-writing, producing and starring in the rap parody flick “CB4,” but its lukewarm reception caused Rock to refocus on stand-up and honing his craft.

A few film roles and televised comedy shows followed. But Rock really made his mark with the 1996 HBO special “Bring the Pain.” It refreshed his lagging career, earned him two Emmy Awards and made him one of the most popular comedians in America. The show’s success was attributed to his groundbreaking, controversial and fearless segments, the most famous of which put him at odds with his idol Bill Cosby due to his use of the N word.

Rock also added personality to that year’s presidential race as a correspondent on “Politically Incorrect” with Bill Maher. He soon started a three-year stint as a late-night talk show host on HBO’s “The Chris Rock Show,” and followed that with even more specials.

Rock also returned to film in pictures like “Beverly Hills Ninja,” “Lethal Weapon 4” and “Dogma.” Then came more HBO specials, Grammy Award-winning albums and the book “Rock This!” This hot streak earned him the title “the funniest man in America.”

Rock soon stole scenes in “Nurse Betty” and became a leading man in “Down to Earth.” 2001 proved busy, with roles in movies like “Osmosis Jones” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.” He then starred as a CIA agent opposite Anthony Hopkins in “Bad Company,” a presidential candidate in “Head of State,” and a zebra in the animated series “Madagascar.”

In 2005, Rock’s energy appeared on both the big and small screens: he joined “SNL” cast mate Adam Sandler in “The Longest Yard,” launched the semi-autobiographical sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris,” and was charged with introducing the Oscars to a younger generation as host of the 77th Academy Awards.

Rock expanded his skills by releasing the acclaimed documentary “Good Hair” in 2009. His other films included the remake of “Death at a Funeral,” another appearance with “SNL” alums in “Grown-Ups” and 2012’s “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”

Though Chris Rock shuns the job of the role model, he keeps us in stitches thanks to his foul mouth, high-pitched machine gun-like delivery and sharp social commentary.
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