Tony Rockis owed. He’s not talking about money, not in this instance.
“That guy owes me a five-minute conversation. That’s all I’m gonna say. He owes me a five-minute conversation in the very least. He doesn’t owe me anything else than a five-minute conversation.”
Rock is talking about Will Smith and Smith’s instantly infamous slap of Rock’s brother Chris Rock during the Oscars telecast in March.
What is Chris Rock owed, if his younger brother is owed five minutes?
“He owes him a public apology and maybe more,” says Tony Rock, who has dismissed Smith’s posts apologizing to the Academy and, yes, Chris Rock in the aftermath of the incident. Having weighed in on the event, Tony Rock says, “I think they will work it out, somehow, eventually.”
Rock is headlining the Laugh Factory at the Tropicana from Thursday through Sunday. He is one of Chris Rock’s six younger siblings, and the only one besides Chris to work as a comedian.
Soon after the slap, Tony Rock peppered Twitter with angry messages, tweeting within two days that he didn’t accept Smith’s apology. A follower tweeted to Rock, asking how he felt about “the Oscars fiasco.” “Foul,” was the comic’s response. Rock also said “Mama Rock” slapped harder than either Will or Jada Pinkett Smith.
Rock also turned in a hostile performance April 1 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. “If you think you’re gonna walk up on this stage, this ain’t the (expletive) Oscars! If you walk up here, you’re not nominated for (expletive) but these hands!”
Rock says within two hours after the show, the social media video from his set exceeded 2 million views. That’s usually a huge hit for a touring comic, something to be celebrated. Not in this case.
“That was emotion, that was my first set after the incident, so I was still running hot,” Rock says. “I went crazy on stage. By the time I got off the stage and was at the after-party, I saw all those views and thought: ‘This isn’t what I want it to turn into.’ I didn’t want to take away from the comics who are also performing and make that the focal point of why people would come to the show.”
Rock says he mentions the event twice, briefly, in his current set.
Having let go of the immediate anger, Rock says of that night and of Smith, “It’s disrespectful. It’s hurtful. I’m ashamed for you, that you did that on such a stage. You know, this was your grandest stage. You have never been on a higher stage in your career, and this is what you chose to do with your moment? So, shame on you.”
Chris Rock has addressed the incident thoroughly in public, though he has mentioned it only slightly in his act. “I got my hearing back,” was a line from his appearance at the Colosseum in April. And, “It was not as bad as it looked.”
Tony Rock says his brother’s advice has constantly been, “ ‘Keep cool, keep cool,’ and if big bro says to keep cool, you keep cool.”
Tony Rock has plenty of material to employ in his act, outside of that episode. He talks of his 2-year-old son, his first child, who might wind up a comic.
“I see a little bit of me and his uncle in him,” Rock says. “He has the funny gene. With that funny gene comes the mischievous gene. He’ll grab a cookie and run when I say, ‘You can’t have a cookie!’ He’ll throw things out the car window when I tell him not to do it. But that’s all part of the comedic gene in my family.”
It is mentioned that Chris Rock was among the first entertainers of any genre to prohibit cellphone use in his show. Rock has required the phones be “pouched” since his appearance at then-Park Theater in 2017 and at his most recent shows at the Colosseum.
“That is the greatest idea ever in stand-up comedy,” Tony Rock says. “Second only to the microphone.”
“Raiding the Rock Vault” has made it back to the stage (remarkably), on schedule (incredibly) and reopens (dutifully) Friday night at the new Duomo club at the Rio. The rock retrospective has been dark for 28 months. Now it is the anchor production in the 300-seat club developed by Vegas attorney Tony Sgro and ex-Caesars Entertainment exec Damian Costa and his Pompey Entertainment company. The show will once more sample such rock stalwarts as the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Free, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Boston, Kansas, Aerosmith, Van Halen, AC/DC, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, Heart, Journey, Bon Jovi and Whitesnake. Dancers are back, too. Rock it.
Cool Hang Alert(s)
Back-to-back CHAs from vocal groups headlining The Nevada Room at Commercial Center. Forward Motion returns as part of the R&B group’s 50th-anniversary celebration. Cornell Haywood, Earl Shelby,and Samuel Thomas Jr. step it up at 7:30 p.m. Friday (doors at 6). The harmonious gents of Fifth Avenue play the showroom at 8 p.m. Saturday (doors 6:30). Jerry Jones, Rob Hyatt, Jeff Celentano and Bryce Robinson make up the vocal quartet. Dan Ellis on keys. Naomi Mauro special guest. Tickets for each show start at $20; the three-course dinner special is separate at $24 (or go a la carte). Go to vegasnevadarooms.com for all the specs.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.