“We’re in New Brunswick. You’re here by choice. Why are you in New Brunswick by choice?” Chris Rock said to start his stand-up act last night.
“But at least we’re not in Camden.”
The legendary comedian debuted an hour and a half set to a packed house at The Stress Factory Comedy Club to prepare for an upcoming tour. The show was announced just after midnight on Wednesday and comes on the heels of four shows at the club last weekend.
Rather than the flashy suits worn in his HBO specials, Rock wore a black longsleeve tee, jeans and an all-black Mets hat. He traded in the stages of Madison Square Garden and Constitution Hall for the cramped Stress Factory stage, practically on top of the crowd.
His new material was anything but relaxed.
He said the lost Malaysian Airlines flight was actually in Camden. The government would not dare to search the crime-stricken city so they will never find.
The Brooklyn-raised comedian also took a shot at another New Jersey city when he listed Newark as one of the things God messed up making.
Rock once again discussed gun-related issues as he did in his 2000 HBO special Bigger and Blacker. Admittedly a gun owner, Rock said we should at least be honest with the terminology behind guns. Hunting is actually killing animals, a machine gun is a killing machine and punching someone is an assault, not shooting them, therefore “Chris Brown is an assault weapon.”
He also talked about his disdain for civil rights movies because they always try to make white viewers feel good. Harrison Ford in the movie ‘42’ tells Jackie Robinson that fans are going to taunt him with racial slurs, as if a black man in the forties needed a reminder that white people were racist according to Rock.
“Germans aren’t coming out of holocaust movies saying ‘That was good, I’m gonna get the DVD,’” he said.
Rock ended the show telling the story of when he went to “Black People Heaven” –President Obama’s 50th birthday party in the White House. While he was dancing to Beyonce in a room with Beyonce, Jay Z and Charles Barkley among others, he said he saw a “single tear of blood” come out of the George Washington’s eye in a painting on the wall.
Since all the material was new, the club was very careful to not let any of it leak online.
Every table had a note saying, “ANY USE OF CELL PHONES, CAMERAS, OR RECORDING DEVICES WILL RESULT IN IMMEDIATE EJECTION FROM THE SHOW WITH NO REFUNDS.” Signs were also posted and the announcer mentioned the same warning multiple times before the start of the show. Employees were actively patrolling the crowd for violators.
Because its 2014, a loud ringtone in the front of the crowd went off about half way through the show. Rock halted his set, visibly startled and asking what it was, but resumed without missing a beat.
The intimate venue provided a unique show for the comedian’s fans.
“We were surprised, like ‘Why is he in New Brunswick?” said Maria Castillo of North Brunswick, “Why isn’t he playing Carnegie Hall?”
Most became aware of the last minute show through word-of-mouth and social media.
“I actually follow the Stress Factory and [owner] Vinnie [Brand] on Twitter so I found out on there,” said Anita Anantharaman. “We tried to come last week but it sold out.”
Ardie Fuqua, who has been on the FX series Louie, opened up the night with a set that heavily involved lampooning the crowd. He was followed by Leslie Jones, an SNL writer who last played Lynette on the April 2 episode of Workaholics. Her extremely vocal set was matched by the crowd’s raucous applause.
“The whole team was nice,” said the comedian Lord. “Great show tonight.”
Rock has four more scheduled shows at The Stress Factory tonight and tomorrow at 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm.