(Appeared in the January 19, 2009 issue of Time Out Chicago)
Chris Rock turns his attention from chuckles to coifs. By Christina Couch
After Chris Rock’s four-year-old daughter asked him, “Daddy, how come I don’t have ‘good’ [meaning Caucasian] hair?” the comedian devised a two-year, cross-continental, celebrity-filled answer, all captured on film. Good Hair, Rock’s first documentary, chronicles the history and cultural impact of African-American hairstyles. It debuts this week at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, just a few days after the three-disc collector’s edition of Rock’s HBO special Kill the Messenger hits stores. We called the comedian-cum-filmmaker to discuss what’s so funny about hair.
Time Out Chicago: You spent two years researching hair? Really?
Chris Rock: Ha, ha, ha, yes. My daughter’s the star, and I’m a PA. You’ve got to bend over backwards to make sure the star is happy, so if my baby’s not happy with her hair, I’ve got to do something about that. I’ve got to go investigate. [Laughs]
TOC: It just seems like a pretty random topic, especially for someone not all that obsessed with hair.
Chris Rock: On the surface, it seems like it’s not what I normally do, but when you watch the movie, it’s very political, and it deals with relationships. It deals with a lot of issues I would deal with in an HBO special, just in another way. What goes on in the movie most black people know about, maybe not to the extent that we covered it, but any white person who sees it is going to think, Wow, I had no idea. [Good Hair] is kind of a love letter to black women, and it’s definitely a love letter to my daughter.
TOC: Is this love letter coming from the same guy who said in Kill the Messenger that a black woman couldn’t be First Lady?
Chris Rock: Well, that’s a joke. It looks harsh in print, but thank God there are cameras on you when you do the joke. And thank God there are black women laughing at it.
TOC: You were very open about your support of Obama and his wife. Do you think you’ll have as much politically driven material in a “No-Drama Obama” administration?
Chris Rock: I don’t know. I’m interested in how politics affects the everyday guy and woman. When it gets to appointments and policies, I don’t know about that stuff. Lately, I’ve actually been thinking about those jobs [in Obama’s administration] going, Do I want one of these jobs? I wonder if I could get one of these jobs. I used to work with Al Franken at SNL, and he’s going to be a senator, so it makes you think, Ooh, could I run for office?
TOC: Sweet holy hell, we would vote for you in a second.
Chris Rock: I don’t know if I’m a senator. I’m, like, a mayor or something. I’m more of a headliner. I’m not really good on a bill with a bunch of people.
TOC: You just missed a Senate seat in Illinois that was up for sale…
Chris Rock: How much is it? I’ve got some Madagascar bonuses I could kick over there.
TOC: Last April, Bill Stephney, Public Enemy’s bassist, said, “Every handful of years, there’s a Chris Rock moment, and we just happen to be in that hot zone.” Do you feel…you know…hot zoney?
Chris Rock: [Laughs] I don’t know. After we finished cutting [Good Hair], we looked at each other and were like, “Hey, is this better than we thought?” We’ll see if audiences like it. I’m doing a movie, Death at a Funeral [a remake of the 2007 British film by the same name], and I’m going to write a book. I’m staying busy, but I don’t know if it’s a hot zone. Then again, you never know what can happen.
Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger hits shelves this week for $29.98.