Man at His Best

Chris Rock's Tamborine Displays The Comedian at His Best and His Most Vulnerable

The comedian takes aim at the American political landscape before turning the gun on himself with a special thatís both political and personal.

BY Wayne Cheong | Feb 15, 2018 | Film & TV

Teased during this year’s Super Bowl, Tamborine was later revealed to be one of two Chris Rock’s comedy specials with Netflix. Released yesterday on the streaming media site, Tamborine covered the gamut of Rock’s favourite subject matter: police violence; being black in America; politics; raising his kids—and now Rock shines the spotlight on himself, specifically his divorce.

It is intimate. An almost stark departure from Rock’s previous specials where his bravado is seen in his set pieces, in his attire, in his braggadocio. Now, Rock is clad simply in a black t-shirt, his arena is an 800-seater theatre—small for someone of his standing. He still has that bite in his punchlines but he’s also vulnerable when he talks about what a piece of shit he is as a husband. And with Bo Burnham at the helm of the production (Burnham, also a comedian with a few specials under his belt but has now moved away from the spotlight to behind the camera), the “unnecessary jibs, bullshit crane shots, and audience cutaways that don’t really add anything to it” are excised, paring Tamborine down to a contained affair. A moment that stuck with us was when the camera zooms in on Rock’s face as he admits his infidelity (a similar effect was used in Hasan Minhaj’s Homecoming King, which goes to show that sometimes even with dick jokes, with the proper camera direction, pathos can be achieved.

Rock has always stated that his comedic style is influenced by how his grandfather, a preacher, would deliver a sermon. And in equal measure, the stage as Rock’s pulpit, is also a confessional booth for which his sins are laid bare and forgiven.

Chris Rock’s Tamborine is now out on Netflix.