Is Chris Rock’s Tamborine his best stand-up comedy special? Well, no.
Is it his most interesting, most revealing and perhaps most important hour for these times? Perhaps yes.
And that’s all you really need to know about the first of two Netflix specials Rock has up his sleeves. That, and the fact that he chose deliberately to misspell “tambourine” based on the Prince song from Around The World In A Day, which plays over the closing credits of Tamborine.
It’s more interesting to watch than Rock’s previous solo efforts thanks to the direction of Bo Burnham, and the location inside BAM’s cozy theater. It’s most revealing because the second half of Tamborine focuses on his most personal divorce from his wife of 16 years. And most important, perhaps, because Rock’s stand-up voice has been missing now for a decade since his HBO special, Kill The Messenger, and we need a messenger like Rock now more than ever. Not just because Trump. But also because of everything that has come with Trump.
He calls back to a previous special, proudly noting that he has kept his teenage daughter “off the pole” so far, but is taken aback by what he heard taking his daughter to her high-school orientation. Kids can be anything they want? “Maybe four of them,” he jokes. “But the other 2,000 of them better learn how to weld.” And if that inspirational message were true, then Rock kills that messenger with one line: “Then how come you’re a vice principal?”
His alternate message to high-schoolers? “You can be anything you good at, as long as they’re hiring. And even then, it helps to know somebody.”