Let's Watch Chris Rock's Awkwardly Unfunny Boston Marathon SNL Monologue (VIDEO)
Chris Rock hosted Saturday Night Live last night, and when you return to your old stomping grounds -- in his case, where he got started -- you try to impress. Unfortunately for Chris, his choice of material was both wince-inducing and confusing. Although there was a funny Uber reference.
The subject was today's New York Marathon, but for some reason the thrust of the set was the Boston Marathon, and terrorist attacks, and OK, if you're going to go with that, it had better be funny. You can be the judge, but the audience seemed perplexed, and so was I.
Here are the big problems with the monologue:
* He lost the crowd with his first transition. Randomly segueing from "What could go wrong?" to the Boston Marathon, and then "Twenty-six miles!" got nothing but blank stares. At first I thought he had said "Twenty-six smiles". It was just so out-of-context. He went from terrorism to a bit about marathons being hard to run and back to terrorism. It was just odd and clunky -- the kind of thing you need to workshop for about two months before unrolling it on TV.
* There is no such thing as bad taste if the joke is funny, and comes from a good place. There was none of that here, and the monologue suffered greatly for it. Chris Rock has never been Mr. Warmth, and as funny and brilliant has he can be, audiences have always had a hard time identifying with him. So his material has to be hilarious and precise, or he loses the crowd.
* If you're going to go with a controversial theme, own it. Rock started out too many of his sentences with things like "I love Boston, but ..." and "The people oof Boston bounced back!" ... etc., to try and take the edge off. Can you imagine Carlin or Louis CK doing that? If you're going to joke about runners finally getting to the finish and then having to run again because of a terrorist bomb, just say it. Don't try to soften it first.
I cut off the monologue before Rock got to the long part about the Freedom Tower ("They should have called it the 'I'm not going in there Tower' "), because it wasn't sports related, and also wasn't that imaginative. Rock is at the point in his career where just about anything he says will get laughs, because of his celebrity. That's why it was so jarring to hear dead silence in parts.
To be fair, there was a segment about Christmas materialism that was pretty funny -- although what it was doing at the tail end of a terrorism bit was somewhat baffling. You can't really say he bombed, because he did get big laughs in a couple of spots. But overall, it was a monologue to forget.
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