Chris Rock says he would return to the comedy clubs – but only if they introduced a zero-tolerance policy to filming on mobile phones.
He said smartphones had ruined the intimacy and privacy of the club atmosphere – and that comics were now scared to try new ideas or push boundaries in what should be a safe environment, for fear of the footage ending up on the internet.
And he pointed to the huge controversy surrounding Daniel Tosh’s comments on rape as a way the protective bubble of the club had been burst, even though that incident was not caught on camera, only reported on a blog.
‘When you’re workshopping it, a lot of stuff is bumpy and awkward,’ he told the New York Times. ‘Especially when you’re working on the edge, you’re going to offend. A guy like Tosh, he’s at the Laugh Factory. He’s making no money.’
He said that big-name comics shouldn’t’ be criticised for being in the ‘gym’ – getting their material in shape before it’s ready for wider public consumption.
Roch added: ‘‘The sad thing, with all this taping and stuff, no one’s going to do stand-up. And every big stand-up I talk to says: “How do I work out new material? Where can you go? I I have a half an idea and then it’s on the Internet next week?”
‘Just look at some of my material. You can’t imagine how rough it was and how unfunny and how sexist or racist it might have seemed. “Niggas vs. Black People” probably took me six months to get that thing right. You know how racist that thing was a week in? That’s not to be seen by anybody.
‘The few times I’ve gotten onstage and thought about touring, immediately, stuff’s on the internet, I’m getting calls, and I’m like, “this isn’t worth it.”
‘I’ll go back to comedy clubs when they get a real no-camera policy, the same way they did with smoking. But hey, they used to be the smokiest places in the world.’