Thursday, November 4, 2010

Born Suspect - A Review

     For this weeks review I decided to dip into my CD collection and pull out another classic to listen to and review.

    The year was 1991 and a new generation of Saturday Night Live legends were just coming together and finding their voice. I was seven years old and completely unaware of this.

Born Suspect
Chris Rock
Recorded at The Comedy Act Theatre, Atlanta
Originally Released 1991

    Born Suspect was Chris Rock's first ever studio album and I have no idea how I acquired it which is odd as I typically remember how and/or why I picked up a CD. 

    As noted above this album was recorded in a comedy club in Atlanta and it sounds like it. The first impression one gets is that this is a small venue(my research for how big the venue was came up empty) which creates a nice atmosphere for the album. You can actually hear the comments from the crowd which only aides in your ability to feel like you are there and a part of the fun. 

   The second thing that jumped out at me was Chris's delivery of his material. At this point in his career he was already working on Saturday Night Live so it should come as no surprise that he sounds polished in his timing but it was his signature "chuckle" that stood out to me. Most comedians learn to never laugh at one's own joke or only do so during the wave of the emotion that is brought out when the crowd is really into what is being said but Chris laughs at his own jokes and he does so with surprising regularity. And for Chris it works. It feels genuine and actually makes him more relatable.

    Looking through the liner notes of the CD jacket there is a section where he gives "special thanks" to a list of people as well as categories where he points out a list of "funniest ever", "funniest now", "funniest females", "clean team", "new jack", "king of late night", "renaissance man" and "funny white boys". I had never noticed this part before but it was a nice insight into Chris and his influences.  

    Hearing Chris talk about everything from being a Busboy to Equal Rights to Weaves is a joy. There are many lines that are worth quoting and while I don't normally quote a comedian's line because I believe a lot of the "funny" comes in the delivery and timing I can't resist this one:(On the topic of prison over crowding) "In my house we slept five to a bed and we never tried to hang my father."

    The only thing I could do without is the two rap songs at the end. They aren't particularly funny or good.(Do those sentences seem abrupt or of out of place? So do the rap songs.)

    Even back then one could see that Chris was special. Chris speaks with enthusiasm and subtle(sometimes not so subtle) social commentary and leaves the audience thinking about the world they live in which is a true test of a great comedian. Pryor did it. Carlin did it. And Rock does it.

What You Really Want To Know.
Is It Safe To Listen To In Public? This is an easy one. No. The only thing that feels outdated about this album is the reference to a disgraced mayor who was caught smoking crack. Everything else will have you laughing from beginning to end.

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