Only very rarely do us normal folk have the opportunity to watch a true master of their trade at work – and watching Chris Rock on stage certainly falls into that category.
There are very few standup comedians who come close to Rock’s class. And on his Total Blackout tour, the newly-divorced and apparently significantly less wealthy star is on fiery form.
Sure, some of the material covers fairly predictable ground. Trump, social media and parenting are all on the menu. But if every comic and their granny can talk about such mundane things, surely we’d want to see the best of the best give it a go? And of course, it’s all solid gold.
But the highlight of his set at the Hydro in Glasgow involves the collapse of his marriage and the advice he offers to couples to help them avoid such a painful split. Mainly that advice involves “fucking” and “sucking dick,” but Rock has a way of making essentially crude jokes sound damn near life-affirming.
His trademark repetition is here in all its glory. And it’s remarkable how he can say the same line three or four times in a row, yet manage to get louder and louder laughs with each repetition. That can only be because it’s obvious that he really means it.
The set is sprinkled with throwback references to some of his earlier, classic material – but just enough to milk some extra laughs out of them rather than relying on them to win over the audience. An audience who, it must be said, have been brilliantly warmed up by roastmaster Jeff Ross, up-and-comer Anthony Jeselnik and the hilarious Michelle Wolf.
Rock is as good as ever and still has plenty to say. And tonight, Glasgow laps it up from start to finish.
ADDENDUM: Rock has banned mobile phones from this tour. Which is absolutely fine, and we left ours at home. For those who wanted to have their phones with them, they had to be placed in a thing called a ‘Yondr pouch’ at the door. These pouches are locked, so you can’t access the phone during the gig and you then get them unlocked on the way out. All seems fairly sensible, but here’s the thing…the Hydro is in fucking Scotland. In Scotland, it frequently pishes with rain. Having thousands of people queuing up outside in the rain for much, much longer than normal is simply not right. Why the fuck don’t the Hydro have a door set aside purely for people who left their phones at home? That surely wouldn’t be difficult. Yet we had to stand in line, in the rain, and arrive inside soaked through. Fuck you, Hydro. Sort it out.