Chris Rock doesn’t think the comedians of today are on par with the legends who came before them. That’s not exactly an unfounded or unpopular opinion, but Chris Rock articulates the position well in the comedy issue of Vanity Fair. Guest editor Judd Apatow is the one who prompted Rock on the issue and in response he explained the limitations of “situational comics.”
Judd Apatow: Do you think comedians are better now? How do you compare the work of the comedians of today with the work of the people you started with and were inspired by?
Chris Rock: Do I think comedians are better now? Hell fuckin’ no. Show me one guy or woman as funny as Rodney Dangerfield or as good as George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, or Joan Rivers. There are a lot of good comics out there, no doubt, but as far as the quality of the comics goes, I think what you have is a bunch of situational comics. What we have now is black comics that work only black crowds, gay comics that do only gay crowds, and southern comics that only work down South, and so on with Asian, Latino, Indian, midgets, etc. The previous generation’s comics were better because they had to make everybody laugh. Richard Pryor could do The Ed Sullivan Show and play the Apollo. Seinfeld can work any crowd. Ellen can work any crowd. Lopez can work any crowd. And a few more, but the rest of them are just situational comics.
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