From the moment that stupid Will Smith’s hand left Chris Rock’s face last year at the Oscars, you knew that the stand-up comic legend was going to make something of it. How LARGE a thing he’s made out of – waiting a year to tell his side of the story – is what is making headlines this weekend. For after running the planet on his Ego Death World Tour 2022, Rock is preparing for Netflix’s first-ever live, global streaming event and live stand-up comedy special with March 4’s Chris Rock: Selective Outrage.
And if it wasn’t enough that Rock and Netflix are going live and hardcore on Saturday night – no holds barred, raw and unfiltered – the plans for Selective Outrage just got a lot bigger as there will be live pre- and post-shows airing before and after Rock’s new stand-up that will only be available on March 4. The former is The Show Before the Show streaming live at 6:30 p.m. PT featuring on the spot, fresh commentary from Rock’s old friend Jerry Seinfeld and bits from Amy Schumer. The Daily Show’s correspondent Ronny Chieng will host The Show Before The Show with live guest appearances from friends and fellow comedians Deon Cole, Arsenio Hall and Leslie Jones. Later that same evening, stand-up comedians, podcasters and SNL alums David Spade and Dana Carvey will emcee a post-show, The Show After the Show, featuring fellow commentators JB Smoove (from Curb Your Enthusiasm) and essayist and basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
I would also hazard a guess that Rock’s friend, stand-up comedy GOAT and Netflix collaborator Dave Chappelle will find himself a part of this mix at some point. Perhaps Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith can join In the festivities – they might as well. They’re as much a part of Rock’s services as anything else in 2023.
Will all of this razzle-dazzle pandemonium and elaborate ancillary programming given Chris Rock: Selective Outrage Netflix has turned its entry into the live event/performance stakes into something worthy of Super Bowl level planning and execution. I’m surprised that Rock and Netflix haven’t planned a break in his stand-up’s middle and created a fireworks-filled halftime show with Rihanna.
Add to this the fact that Netflix has sweetened the pot and made its pre and post shows available exclusively and solely on the Saturday night debut of Selective Outrage is great marketing and will surely yield a crop of new, premium level subscribers at a time when the public has heard nothing more than the woes of Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos – how non-subscribers are stealing Netflix streams, how his shows cost too much to produce, how he’s cut budgets and entire series to accommodate new growth. Selective Outreach should fill Netflix’s coffers.
Especially since Chris Rock – normally a chatty presence within the dialogue of American comedy and all things pop cultural – normally can’t shut up. Now, after remaining silent, here he is, a year later, still silent – that is until March 4. This means that in the post Will Smith slap scenario, Rock has taken advantage of the situation and maximized its potential and its profitability. Sure, he touched on its during some of the latter Ego Death tour dates, but not fully – not like audiences expect of him during the live Selective Outrage special. The damn will burst. And burst. As it should. Smith apologists seem to be coming out of the woodwork to defend an action that seems unthinkable. People make mistakes? Sure. But normally not by punching someone in the face on live television on the heels of a dumb and dated joke. Would everyone be OK if Will Smith got punched in the face? Would that be excusable?
Netflix’s VP of Stand-up and Comedy formats Robbie Praw said in a statement that, “Our goal is to deliver the best stand-up comedy to our members and this live streaming event further reinforces all the ways we continue to invest in the genre.”
That has meant stand-up specials with Marc Maron, Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer, Bill Burr and Chris Rock, whose last event through Network, Tamborine, was good, but not mind blowing. It has also meant Netflix Is a Joke: The Festival, held live in the spring of 2022 with Live Nation, selling more than 260,000 tickets, and featuring over 300 comedians performing 300 shows across more than 35 venues in Los Angeles.
And speaking to Rock and his previous efforts in live stand-up showcases turned into television and streaming spectaculars, Selective Outrage will surely bring him round to the social connected consciousness and pop cultural relevance of 1996’s Bring the Pain, the HBO special that changed the game for Rock and for live stand-up presentation. This watershed stand-up special (and its 1999 follow-up Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker) was a where-were-you-when-you-saw-Chris moment.
My guess is that Selective Outrage will feel about the same. Let’s check GOAT status after the post-show.
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