Chris Rock’s return to Saturday Night Live was underwhelming at best. That’s probably being nice for some, but it’s too easy to be prone to hyperbole in this day and age. It wasn’t high quality, but I’d have trouble calling it the worst without actually looking back at some of the bad episodes from over the years.
There were a few moments that stood out from last night, mainly Prince’s 8-minute performance and Rock’s controversial monologue. Most people seem to be split on where to stand on the monologue, saying things like it was awkward, uncomfortable, and too soon to be making jokes on topics like the Boston Marathon and 9/11.
Others, like myself, felt that there was no issue with what we got in the monologue. Tastes on the quality might vary, but the issues and subject matter that were brought up were far from the line in my opinion. They were edgy, yes, but I think that stems more from a place where we are used to people staying serious about the tragedies that affect our lives.
I’m not saying folks weren’t offended or can’t be offended by the jokes in Rock’s monologue. If you lived through the events of those days, you probably aren’t in the mood to joke about it. But what about the families of Ebola victims? What about the families of dead soldiers? None of that stopped people from making jokes about the virus or the dual wars we were fighting for over ten years.
And in terms of controversial SNL monologues, this is nowhere near the level of Martin Lawrence’s famous appearance on the show. In both examples, we get a performer that is known for a certain type of humor. Lawrence just managed to rub everyone the wrong way, leading to this being rebroadcast with any re-run of the episode:
Will that happen with Chris Rock’s monologue? No way.
I don’t even have an issue with Martin Lawrence’s appearance personally, but the disclaimer is what happens when outrage grows to a point of distraction. It’s happened before and can easily happen again, especially with the Internet opening communication for folks. But what was probably too much for a network censor shouldn’t be too much for a comedian.
With Rock’s monologue, I think it should be viewed as something he couldn’t have gotten away with ten years ago. If anything is surprising about it, it’s the fact that he did it and garnered a fairly tepid response. It might be because the rest of the episode softened the impact or maybe people are opening up a bit. What do you think? Leave some thoughts in the comments.