By Daniel Paiz
Chris Rock’s “Ego Death” Tour rolls into Denver and was a complete clinic in comedy. Rock is a student of both comedy and Hip-Hop and showed his love for both in a very intriguing way. Clips of comedy’s best such as Richard Pryor, Moms Mabley, Red Foxx, and more were combined with tunes from Frank Ocean, Ty Dolla $ign and Drake. It didn’t seem like the crowd was all that tuned into it, but for me it set the night off as another moment in comedy history; it was Rock quietly stating he’s having his moment and it should be viewed in similar fashion.
If you are a fan of cracking on the audience and getting consistent audience participation, then Rick Ingraham is your guy. The “Ego Death” opener engaged with the audience early and often. Ingraham focused on discussing generational differences, as well as discussing racism amongst Asian people.
It takes a lot to be able to discuss any topic and not insult folks a bit more than just razzing/cracking on stereotypes and audience members. Denver seemed to be a mixed result for the opener, as there were times Ingraham was funny and other times it felt like he missed the mark. It could very well be that insult humor takes getting used to, but it made sense as to why Rock tapped this guy for his tour.
Rock opened up his set and discussed how everyone is afraid to talk to each other. Everyone in America is divided, and how humans are horrible to each other. Granted, he did it in a way to get people laughing.
Best parts of Chris Rock’s performance
Chris Rock landed joke after joke for somewhere around 90 minutes. There were a lot of jokes, and Rock is one of those comedians who lays the groundwork for a joke with callbacks you don’t expect, and it comes off as effortless. This guy has been writing jokes a long time, so it’s not a surprise; it’s just impressive the flow that was on display throughout the night. There are two stories or monologues in particular that stood out. One had to do with a former presidential candidate, the other COVID.
Chris Rock broke down how Hilary Clinton blew two chances to be president, and how in some ways is to blame for COVID. The following parts are paraphrased from memory, but still resonate hours later.
Clinton had two chances
God spoke to Hilary Rodham Clinton 14 years ago, and he told her she was going to be president. He told her he was going to make it easier for her, she was going to be running against a Black man.
Hilary asked, “does he sing and dance?”
God told her “No, I wouldn’t do that to you. He’s just one of those talking N****s. All you have to do, is campaign in all 50 states.”
Barack Obama campaigned in 50 states, Hilary managed to visit 48 states. Obama won fair and square.-Chris Rock, Ego Death Tour stop in Denver
Rock isn’t finished. He describes for us how God doesn’t visit people twice in their life: Moses, Noah, and Hilary. That’s it. So, he finishes the second portion of the story.
Hilary has EIGHT years to think about it. To learn from what happened. Obama’s term ends, and God speaks to her a second time.
He says “I’m going to make it even easier for you. I’m going to have you run against a game show host, whose show was cancelled. He looks like he gets his hair cut from a cotton candy machine. You’re going to be president. Just promise that you will visit all 50 states.”
Hilary, in her busy schedule, manages to visit 48 states. Donald Trump visits all 50 states, and he wins fair and square.Chris Rock, Ego Death Tour stop in Denver
Rock had prefaced this monologue with how the United States can kind of run itself most of the time. However, when something like a global pandemic like COVID hits, an expert, somebody with experience is needed to bring us together. Instead of a leader, during COVID we had a game show host.
COVID doesn’t measure up
The direction and circular storytelling Rock utilized included tying COVID into several different jokes. One such line of thought started out with everybody’s favorite topic, wearing facemasks. It ended with a comparison I did not see coming.
With facemasks, people complained about having to wear facemasks. “I don’t wanna wear a facemask, I’m not wearing it!” COVID didn’t do what AIDS did. AIDS took out Queen and NWA. That’s some range.
You don’t want to wear a facemask? AIDS forced you to wear a mask on your d**k! AIDS wasn’t playing. I’m wearing that mask right now, because you never know what’ll happen in the Mile High City…Chris Rock, Ego Death Tour stop in Denver
Chris Rock lived up to the hype and then some. To date, it’s hard to decide if that was the best standup I’ve seen in person yet. Only time will tell.
There might have been some Denver pro athletes there, maybe some community leaders, elected officials, I’m not really sure. What I am sure of is Denver comedy legend Josh Blue was in attendance, as he was sitting about eight rows in front of me. I did not disturb him as I tend to avoid doing so unless it’s somebody I’m super familiar with, and the venue made us stash our phones in industrially sealed pockets. What a night for comedy fans.