I had the chance to watch Chris Rock try out new material twice in recent months in the intimate environment of the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village, so imagine my delight and surprise (not to mention the 4,000-plus people at Caesars Palace) to hear him deliver even newer riffs Friday night as part of his first theater show in four years during The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas.

After the show, he said "it felt good…still need to shake off a little rust, but it felt good," adding: "It’s a good room. I haven’t done this in so long. I had to get used to the sound…sometimes the laughs go up high to the balcony."

Highlights from the show after the jump.

Oh, right. The show. Rock opened by acknowledging Britney Spears and her child-rearing skills, then deftly turning to Michael Vick and dog fighting, comparing him favorably to Don King and pointing out how Americans treat dogs differently than other animals. "If Michael Vick had killed 100 deer, he’d be free. And Atlanta would be 6-2 right now." That got a big laugh. Rock, of course, likes to keep pushing, so he then wondered about the comparison between 100 abortions and seven dog deaths.

Rock’s views on the election prove he ain’t voting for Clinton. "I think America is ready, but does it have to be that woman?!" Being First Lady doesn’t mean anything to him. "I’ve been married to my wife for 10 years, but if she got onstage, you wouldn’t laugh at all." He said Hillary’s main experience is forgiveness for her husband. That’s not to say he’s completely pleased by Obama, as he’s got plenty of jokes for and about him. But he certainly isn’t in Giuliani’s corner. 9/11? "But what about 9/10…or 8/16, 4/21. Pick a date!" Rock compared Giuliani to a pit bull — he might protect you, but then again, he might bite your kids. He saves his venom, though, for the current president, who he joked rushed out to Malibu "putting out people’s fires with Katrina water!"

Barry Bonds led to a discussion of steroids, Babe Ruth and racism, which led to Rock describing his upper-class neighborhood in Alpine, NJ, where the only black neighbors are all legends (Patrick Ewing, Gary Sheffield, Mary J. Blige) while his white neighbor is a dentist. "He’s just a yank-your-f—ing-tooth-out dentist," Rock said. A black dentist who wanted to live on their block? "He’d have to invent teeth!" This led to Rock’s view on Imus, which essentially is shock that anyone would be surprised by someone saying something racist, and then his larger point, which holds that people with power (white people, skinny girls, tall guys, the rich) cannot joke or mock people without it (blacks, fat girls, short people, the poor). Which means I’m not sure I can type his funny joke about what he wanted to do when he heard people wanted to outlaw the word "nigger."

What else? Rock knows he cannot complain much, but warned audience members that "people with careers need to know to shut their f—ing mouths around the people who work."

He has a lengthy bit about Wal-Mart, and no, he’s not a fan of them, either.

Other lessons from the Rock of 2007:

– We’re dumb for buying water, and even dumber for buying ringtones. He imagines a day not long from now in which the phone company will buy the ringtone company and start selling phones that don’t ring so you have to buy the ringtone.

– No one cares about missing men, nor about homeless men (because if they have a dog, we pity the dog).

– All of these celebrity tabloid TV shows and magazines are porn for women.

– Rock is good at sex when he needs to be.

– The highest compliment a woman can get from her man? "I ain’t going nowhere." This led to his closing bit that he’s been working on for a while, about how love equals like plus need, and how men cannot go backward sexually in a relationship, whereas women cannot got backward in lifestyle.

Very solid. Rock said afterward that he’ll begin a tour in January in the UK, followed by stand-up concerts stateside. "I think I’m bigger in the UK, actually," he said. That’s hard to believe.