It’s New Year’s Eve, and Chris Rock will perform tonight at Madison Square Garden. As the New York Times goes out of its way to mention, Rock’s routine doesn’t just magically appear. He actually works on his jokes. More than once. No, really! He does.

For me, the money quote comes later in the NYT story, in which Rock talks about seeing Eddie Murphy perform. “There were moments you could hear a pin drop, and that’s really what it’s all about,” he said. “Anybody can just say stuff and get people to scream. If you’re really good, you can get them to be quiet. Quiet is true ownership of the room.”

Silence? Yes. Silence means they’re not just listening but also paying attention to you in between laughs. It makes me wonder, of course, about a guy like Dane Cook, who also played Madison Square Garden this year. Cook’s audience is full of screamers. Does this mean that Cook, often described as a rock star of comedy, doesn’t really own the room?

I had the chance to see Chris Rock’s first theater show in November in Las Vegas, and also saw him a couple of times this summer at the Comedy Cellar in unannounced sets, in case you want to know what’s been on his mind.