NPR’s Teri Gross recently interviewed the comedian, Chris Rock, on “Fresh Air.” A friend and fellow T.A. in Intro to Homiletics with Tom Long mentioned the exchange yesterday for its application to preaching (we preacher types are interested in these sorts of things): apparently Rock credits old-time preachers, from his grandfather to contemporaries Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes, for influencing how he approaches stand-up comedy.
You can read the transcript of this portion of the interview here. I also stumbled upon some further, related reflections by American religion and culture scholar Dan Silliman, who teaches at the University of Heidelberg. (Silliman is currently finishing a dissertation on how secularity as a construct and condition is imagined and represented in evangelical fiction, and I’m intrigued!)
Rock seems simultaneously both to scorn and admire the act of preaching. (In this way, maybe he is like a lot of us.) He can tell, he says, when he sees a preacher has “lost” his audience and needs to pull a “trick” out of his bag for the sake of performance. Still, he credits his preacher grandfather and his grandfather’s bullet-point brainstorming in the car for how he, as a comedian, now approaches an act.
If you missed it, here was Chris Rock earlier this year on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” promoting Madagascar 3.