Chris Rock on Bill Cosby, White People and Women in Comedy
By Antoinette Bueno
Chris Rock is getting more candid -- and serious -- than ever.
The 49-year-old comedian recently gave one of his most in-depth interviews ever to New York Magazine, not holding back on topics ranging from the recent rape allegations against Bill Cosby, his thoughts on female comedians and race relations in America.
When asked if any comedian was ever "disdainful" to him when he was first starting out in his career, Chris quickly calls out Cosby.
"I mean, maybe Cosby early on, but he turned pretty quick," he shares.
Commenting on the recent multiple sexual assault accusations against the 77-year-old comedian, Chris goes so far as to liken the situation to the deaths of Joan Rivers and Robin Williams.
"I grew up on Cosby," Chris says. "I love Cosby, and I just hope it's not true. It's a weird year for comedy. We lost Robin, we lost Joan, and we kind of lost Cosby."
"Great person, underrated comedian," he says. "Who the hell’s funnier than Joan Rivers? ... The compliment you give of a comedian is: Who wants to follow them onstage? Nobody wanted to follow Joan Rivers, ever. Even in her 80s, nobody wanted to follow her."
Chris also surprisingly defends comedian Roseanne Barr when describing comedy's ability to "smack Hollywood out of its inherent racism, sexism, [and] anti-Semitism."
"In this sense, comedy's really fair," he explains. "It's not like music, where you can hire Timbaland and he gives you a beat and a song, and even though you can't sing it's a hit. Comedy, especially stand-up comedy, it's like: Who's funny? ... Do they really want to do a show with Roseanne Barr? No, they want a thin blonde girl. [But] she's just funnier than everybody."
And Chris says he's absolutely ready for more females in the forefront.
"I'm absolutely ready for a woman president," he says about the possibility of Hillary Clinton running for president. "I'm ready for a woman nighttime-talk-show host, to tell you the truth. I wonder which will be first."
"When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it's all nonsense," he says bluntly. "There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they're not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before."
He specifically names President Obama as an example.
"So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president," he says. "That's not black progress. That's white progress. There's been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years."
But that doesn't mean he doesn't have hope for the future, specifically when it comes to his children’s generation. Chris has two daughters with wife Malaak Compton, and credits them with saving him from the depression so often seen in comedians.
"The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years," he explains. "The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let's hope America keeps producing nicer white people."
Chris's next film is the highly anticipated Top Five, a bittersweet comedy about a comedian trying to make it as a serious actor. The former Saturday Night Live star says he's proud that the film slightly channels the late Nora Ephron, who's responsible for such beloved romantic comedy hits as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle.
"She and I used to talk about making a movie all the time," he surprisingly reveals. "She always used to say to me, 'Are you ready to walk? That's the only way we're going to make a movie. We're going to have to do a lot of walking and talking.'"
As for who his leading lady would be?
"I don't know. Kerry Washington?" he says. "It can be anybody though."
ET's Nischelle Turner recently caught up with Chris to talk about Top Five, and he also opened up about his good friend -- and Top Five co-star -- Tracy Morgan's recovery from a horrific car crash this summer.