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Chris Rocks the Critics

Chris Rock parts ways with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson on the use of the n-word by African Americans.

Sharpton and Jackson believe the word should be stricken from their vocabulary because it encourages others, like former "Seinfeld" actor Michael Richards, to use it, say, while on a rant in a comedy club.

Rock, on the other hand, is a big fan. He likes this word. He likes hearing himself use it. He uses it often. Like Friday, at Winter TV Press Tour 2007, when asked by critics how he planned to bring more viewers to his semi-autobiographical comedy series "Everybody Hates Chris," which suffers from being part of the Monday lineup of fledgling network CW. CW had just announced it had picked up "Chris" for next season.

"Well, in about a week, I'm going to have Terry [Crews, who plays the father in the series] run through a club screaming [the n-word]. Gonna generate some buzz," Rock joked.

And yet, interestingly, he hesitates to use another profanity, opting instead for the more timid "BS" as in "not a lot of BS" in response to a question about how they have managed to finish shooting all of this season's 22 episodes at this early date.

"I remember [when] I was on 'Saturday Night Live.' There was this whole thing that comedy has to be written at 3 o'clock in the morning. It was just retarded," Rock said dismissively.

But critics were still stuck back on his use of The Word, which has been much in the news of late, thanks to Richards, who used it liberally in response to hecklers at an L.A. comedy club. (Richards also made a nostalgic reference to the practice of lynching.)

"Chris, a little while ago you used the n-word. It's a big thing now that we have Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and others saying maybe you shouldn't use that at all, because you trivialize.... What are your feelings on that?" one critic asked.

"Oh man, I don't know," Rock replied cynically. "I just told my brother to buy me 80 shares of 'coon'."

"Why would you ask him that question!" "Everybody Hates Chris" co-star Tichina Arnold asked the critic in exasperation. Good question.

Crews then suggested they could goose ratings on the series by having Richards do a guest gig.

"He's busy working on 'Apocalypto 2'," Rock cracked, a reference to the latest flick directed by Mel Gibson, who was in the news a while back for making anti-Semitic statements to a cop when he was arrested on a DUI charge.

This inspired a critic to ask Rock whether he would offer a job to Michael Richards.

"Probably. I don't know," Rock said. "I mean, I'd have to make sure all the other non-[n-word]-screaming people didn't need jobs first. Once they were all working I guess I would have to give him a job."

By Lisa de Moraes  |  January 20, 2007; 1:24 AM ET
 
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Comments

Yikes! Could you please get the spelling of Terry Crews' name right! Do you bother to read the materials distributed at the beginning of these conferences? You give journalists a bad name when you make such a careless mistake not once but twice!

Posted by: pfitz | January 20, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for fixing that.

Posted by: pfitz | January 20, 2007 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Rock's an interesting cat. One of his most famous monologues is (to put it haughtily) discerning the difference between normal black people and...those he calls by the n-word, and it's murderously funny and incisive. It's like Bill Cosby's message of late, except done also for laughs. I don't know whether or not the routine can be taken as responsible for creating an atmosphere of acceptability for using the word, though, because it's really clear that what Rock is describing in it is NEGATIVE...as in "Don't do this and you won't be this." I dunno. Too touchy for me to call.

Posted by: 23112 | January 22, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

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