Killing the Messenger: Chris Rock’s Political Content Silenced

On September 27th, Chris Rock’s new comedy special entitled Kill the Messenger aired exclusively on HBO. This was his 6th HBO special, but the first one where I’ve felt like the outspoken Rock was holding his tongue. I suppose I was misled by the interview he held with Larry King a few days prior to the actual special. In the interview, I saw glimpses of a highly politicized stand-up routine where Rock took jabs at everyone from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Sarah Palin and Osama Bin Laden. However, none of these clips actually made the final cut for Kill the Messenger. Check out these clips from the interview, that were removed from the HBO special:

As I was discussing these clips with the president of The Harvard Crimson, brother Malcolm Glenn, it occurred to us that these clips might have been intentionally removed because of their scathing political implications. Think about it… don’t these seem like glaring omissions? I laughed harder at these clips than I did at most of the material I saw on HBO. Furthermore, they were aired on national television during Rock’s interview on Larry King Live, so they were clearly intended to be included in the special. Why were they removed?

To be completely fair, there was some political content in Kill the Messenger. Rock made a few references to the McCain/Palin campaign as well as Barak Obama, however the majority of his routine focused on relationship issues. I expected Rock to draw from today’s heightened political atmosphere fueled by controversial primaries and historic presidential campaigns – especially since he’s always been a political and social commentator. However, Kill the Messenger left much to be desired, politically and comically. It was neither as funny as Bring the Pain nor as socially relevant as Bigger and Blacker or Never Scared. But I don’t blame Chris. Someone decided to remove at least two controversial clips from the final cut. Who knows what else was omitted from the final special, who demanded it, or why.


3 Comments to ‘Killing the Messenger: Chris Rock’s Political Content Silenced’:

  1. Pierce on 3 Oct 2008 at 1:27 pm: 1

    could have been HBO, or the higher-ups @ Time Warner

  2. Malcom Glenn on 3 Oct 2008 at 7:35 pm: 2


    You’re right, man. I can’t speak exactly to the reasons why the Larry King clips didn’t make the final cut, but perhaps HBO thought they would be aligning themselves with one particular ideology by keeping those clips in (though if that’s the case, they ended up doing exactly what they didn’t want to do by taking them out in the first place, so I must admit that that theory seems a bit suspect).

    Either way, it’s highly disappointing to see such a wasted opportunity. As I was telling you, I still laughed during the routine, but none of his jokes were timeless–he didn’t take advantage of this historic election or anything else related to current events. Excluding the first 15 minutes or so, most of his jokes could have been included in a routine a decade ago and won’t be any more or less relevant a decade from now.

    All that said, even when it’s not his best work, Chris Rock is still leaps and bounds ahead of these other Def Comedy Jam-esque guys who populate HBO on your average night.

    Anyone who was in London/Johannesburg/New York and also watched the HBO special? It’d be interesting to hear what other differences existed between what we saw and what he said.

  3. Pierce on 4 Oct 2008 at 2:52 pm: 3

    I don’t know.. Chris Rock has made some pretty ridiculous statements over the years. Why are these taboo?

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Published on October 3, 2008 at 1:24 pm. 3 Comments.
Filed under entertainment,television.