April 20, 2010
Chris Rock on the Jews
Last week stand-up comedian Chris Rock was making the rounds to promote his new film, “Death at a Funeral,” the Americanized, potty-humor infused remake of the 2007 British film directed by Frank Oz.
During his appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher” Rock got to talking about a subject he knows well: blacks and Jews—from Brooklyn, New York. Rock, who grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant and was subject to the first wave of public school integration in the 1970s whereby Black students were bussed into all white schools, consequently had a miserable educational experience. But what’s surprising in this mix is not the unabashed racism Rock recalls, but that he mentions only one group who had it worse: the Jews. I found his comments on the parallel abuses of blacks and Jews in New York illuminating, mainly because no one expects that in the melting pot immigrant mecca of the world, these two minorities enjoyed the least status. Even Maher could barely disguise his shock at hearing how the great and powerful Jews he knows in 21st century terms were beat up and berated.
My transcript of Bill Maher’s April 2010 interview with Chris Rock, which aired on HBO on April 9:
I interviewed Rock for The Guardian last week (and I’ll post the story as soon as I finish writing it) in which we talked about Jewish humor, African-American humor and what exactly those labels mean—if they mean anything at all.