51 Unforgettable Chris Rock Quotes for His 51st Birthday

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The great Chris Rock turns 51 years old on Sunday, and sure, we should’ve made a bigger deal of it last year – but better late than never, especially if it gives us an excuse to share some of our favorite nuggets from the ever-quote-worthy comic, social commentator, and filmmaker. So here are some of his most memorable bits of wisdom from his stand-up act, his book, and his interviews through the years.

On racism

“We treat racism in this country like it’s a style that America went through. Like flared legs and lava lamps. Oh, that crazy thing we did. We were hanging black people. We treat it like a fad instead of a disease that eradicates millions of people. You’ve got to get it at a lab, and study it, and see its origins, and see what it’s immune to and what breaks it down.” [ New York ]

“Who’s more racist, black people or white people? It’s black people! You know why? Because we hate black people too! Everything white people don’t like about black people, black people really don’t like about black people.” [ Chris Rock: Bring the Pain ]

“Nothing more racist than a old black man, you know why? ‘Cause the old black man went through some real racism. He ain’t go through that ‘I can’t get a cab’ shit. He was the cab! White man just jump on his back: ‘Main Street!’” [ Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker ]

“A black C student can’t do shit with his life. A black C student can’t be a manager at Burger King. Meanwhile, a white C student just happens to be the President of the United States.” [ Chris Rock: Never Scared ]

“If you’re black, America’s like the uncle that paid your way through college — but molested you.” [ The Guardian ]

“I live in a place called Alpine, New Jersey. My house costs millions of dollars – don’t hate the player, hate the game. In my neighborhood, there are four black people. Hundreds of houses, four black people. Who are these black people? Well, there’s me, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z and Eddie Murphy. Only black people in the whole neighborhood. So let’s break it down: me, I’m a decent comedian, I’m a’ight. Mary J. Blige, one of the greatest R&B singers to ever walk the Earth. Jay-Z, one of the greatest rappers to ever live. Eddie Murphy, one of the funniest actors to ever, ever do it. Do you know what the white man who lives next door to me does for a living? He’s a fucking dentist. He ain’t the best dentist in the world, he ain’t going to the dental hall of fame, he don’t get plaques for getting rid of plaque. He’s just a yank-your-tooth-out dentist. See, the black man gotta fly to get to somethin’ the white man can walk to.” [ Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger ]

On black-on-black crime

“There’s no such thing as black-on-black crime. It’s just crime. Everybody robs their own people. Nobody goes someplace else to rob people. When you say black-on-black crime, you know what you’re really saying? Crime is cool if you rob white people. There is no black-on-black crime. It’s broke-on-broke crime. A bunch of broke people robbing each other. ‘I only got four dollars. Give me your three!’” [ Rock This! ]

On traveling abroad

It’s like being black. It’s like every day. Especially if you’re black and you have money. I remember bumping into Sofia Coppola, and I said: ‘Dude, Lost in Translation is, like, the blackest movie. Bill Murray, that’s exactly what it feels like to be black and rich.’ It’s not horrible. It’s a little off.” [ The New York Times ]

On role models

“You know, white entertainers do not have a responsibility to a community. Nobody’s telling Bradley Cooper to keep it real. Harry Belafonte is mad at Jay Z and Beyoncé, says they don’t do enough. But nobody’s mad at, uh, who’s my man from Maroon 5? Yeah, no one’s mad at Adam Levine — ‘What are you doing for people with great haircuts?'” [ Rolling Stone ]

“The whole ‘Be a role model to people’ [idea] is kind of racist when you think about it. It’s not like, ‘Get on the back of the bus, nigger’ racist. It suggests that my behavior is not natural. It’s like, ‘Hey I don’t beat my wife because I don’t beat my wife, not because I’m trying to help the race out.’ Know what I mean? I read because I want to read. It’s like, you have a negative image of your people as a whole if you’re putting all of your eggs in my basket. Or a basket of my behavior. Really? I don’t smoke crack because I don’t want to smoke crack, not because I’m trying to help out. So you’re saying if I wasn’t famous, I’d just be in jail and cracked up if no one was watching me? No.” [Grantland]

On class warfare

“If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets. If the average person could see the Virgin Airlines first-class lounge, they’d go, ‘What? What? This is food, and it’s free, and they… what? Massage? Are you kidding me?’” [ New York ]

On paying taxes

“The reality is that we don’t pay taxes. The government takes them. You get your check and the taxes are gone. It was not an option. The government doesn’t trust you with your own money… Then they want some more money in April. What kinda gangster shit is that? Why didn’t they just take the money they needed in the first place, instead of coming to me like a damn crackhead: ‘Remember that money I borrowed before? I need a little bit more; we fucked up on the budget and everything, but…’ It’s disgraceful. Uncle Sam is on the pipe.” [ Rock This! ]

“And why do I have to pay Social Security tax? I won’t get the money until I’m 65. Meanwhile, the average black man dies at 54. It’s a scam. Black people just don’t live that long: hypertension, high blood pressure, LAPD, something will get you. Black people should be able to get Social Security at 30. Even if I live longer, I won’t need the money when I’m 65. I need the money now. Right now. I got some furniture at Macy’s I need to get off layaway.” [ Rock This! ]

On minimum wage

“When your boss pays you minimum wage, that means she doesn’t care about you. She doesn’t care about your Christmas, or whether your kids have shoes. And if she has the nerve to say, ‘How you doing?’ you’re tempted to tell her, ‘You know how I’m doing. I’m doing bed. How else can I be doing with this money you pay me?’ When she pays you minimum wage she’s saying, ‘I would pay you less, but it’s against the law.’” [ Rock This! ]

On voting

“They don’t want you to vote. If they did, we wouldn’t vote on a Tuesday. In November. You ever throw a party on a Tuesday? No. Because nobody would come.” [Vulture]

On political parties

“Everybody’s so busy wanting to be down with the gang. ‘I’m conservative,’ ‘I’m liberal,’ bullshit! Be a fucking person! Lis-ten! Let it swirl around your head. Then form your opinion. No normal, decent person is one thing, okay? I’ve got some shit I’m conservative about, I’ve got some shit I’m liberal about. Crime, I’m conservative. Prostitution, I’m liberal!” [ Chris Rock: Never Scared ]

On the Obama presidency

“I think he’s done well – but it’s like, I don’t know who Tina Turner’s second husband was, but he was better than Ike. Right? Maybe he had faults, maybe he lost his job or whatever, but he was better than Ike.” [ Rolling Stone ]

“Dude, being the first black anything sucks. But the country was in shambles, and he’s cleaning it up. If you properly clean a room, it gets dirtier before it gets cleaner. Ever come back to your hotel room before the maids are finished? My God! Republicans are complaining. Romney’s complaining. But Romney’s rich. He doesn’t know shit about cleaning.” [ Details ]

On the Tea Party

“I actually like it, in the sense that — you got kids? Kids always act up the most before they go to sleep. And when I see the Tea Party and all this stuff, it actually feels like racism’s almost over. Because this is the last — this is the act up before the sleep. They’re going crazy. They’re insane. You want to get rid of them — and the next thing you know, they’re fucking knocked out. And that’s what’s going on in the country right now.” [ Esquire ]

On same-sex marriage

We can’t have gay marriage ’cause marriage is sacred, it happens in the church. Marriage is sacred, it’s sacred. No, it’s not, not in America, not in a country that watches Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? and The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and Who Wants to Marry a Midget. Get the fuck outta here. Shit, Michael Jackson got married, how fucking sacred is that shit?” [ Chris Rock: Never Scared ]

On abortion

“The abortion issue is all screwed up. You’ve got a Supreme Court mostly of men voting on abortion. But it’s a woman’s issue. We should have separate Supreme Courts: one for men, one for women. It’s bad enough that a bunch of men get to vote on abortion. I wouldn’t wan a bunch of women voting on what I could do with balls. ‘The Supreme Court ruled today that two balls are too many.’” [ Rock This! ]

On world hunger

“People are starving all over the world, what do you mean, ‘red meat will kill you’? Don’t eat no red meat? No, don’t eat no green meat. If you lucky enough to get your hands on a steak, bite the shit out of it! … We got so much food in America we’re allergic to food. Hungry people ain’t allergic to shit. You think anyone in Rwanda’s got a fucking lactose intolerance?” [ Chris Rock: Bring the Pain ]

On school shootings

“Everybody is wanting to know what music were the kids listening to, or what movies were they watching. Who gives a fuck what they was watching! Whatever happened to crazy? What, you can’t be crazy no more? Should we eliminate crazy from the dictionary?” [ Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker ]

On drug legalization

I’m all for the legalization of weed. I have two daughters, too, but we all know that alcohol is worse and legal. Seth Rogen is a productive member of society. Mel Gibson has a problem.” [ Vanity Fair ]

“If drugs were legalized, there would be a drug spot in every corner. It wouldn’t be a Starbucks. It’d be Weedbucks. McDonald’s? McCokeald’s. Krispy Kreme? Kracky Kreme. Krispy Kreme Donuts are so good, if I told you it had crack in it, you would be like, ‘Knew it was something in there.’ These donuts are too good. Got me going there at four o’clock in the morning going, ‘Come on, man, open up. Let me have at least one donut. I’ll do anything. I’ll suck your dick!’ That should be the new slogan. Krispy Kreme: So good, you’ll suck a dick.” [ Chris Rock: Never Scared ]

On crack

“Do you know what the good side of crack is? If you’re up at the right hour, you can get a VCR for $1.50. You can furnish your whole house for $10.95.” [ Chris Rock: Bring the Pain ]

On gun control

“You don’t need no gun control. You know what you need? We need some bullet control. I think all bullets should cost five thousand dollars. You know why? ‘Cause if a bullet costs five thousand dollars, there’d be no more innocent bystanders. … Every time someone gets shot, people will be like, ‘Damn, he must have did something. He put $50,000 worth of bullets in his ass!’ Niggas will say, ‘I would blow your fucking head off — if I could afford it! I’m gonna get me another job, I’m gonna start saving some money, and then you’re a dead man! You better hope I can’t get no bullets on layaway!’” [ Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker ]

On doctors

“Charging people for health is low. Only a low person would charge to give a little kid a new liver. When you see a mom on TV begging, ‘Little Cal needs a liver so bad. Please send money. Please,’ notice that she doesn’t say, ‘Send a liver.’ No. They’ve already got a whole truckload of livers. They’ve got livers up the ass. Liver hats. Liver paperweights. Liver earrings. She says ‘send money’ because there’s a scumbag doctor out there who won’t operate until he gets a check.” [ Rock This! ]

On O.J.

“That shit wasn’t about race… that shit was about fame. If O.J. wasn’t famous, he’d be in jail right now. If O.J. drove a bus, he wouldn’t even be O.J. He’d be Orenthal the Bus Driving Murderer.” [ Chris Rock: Bring the Pain ]

On R. Kelly

“R. Kelly’s got a lot of balls. Talking about, It ain’t me. Got a damn sex tape out, It ain’t me. Motherfucker, we know what you look like. That’s you, OK? There’s a damn Soul Train award right next to the bed!” [ Chris Rock: Never Scared ]

On settling down

“Every man has to settle down eventually. You know why you gotta settle down eventually? Because you don’t want to be the old guy in the club. You know what I’m talking about. Every club you go into, there’s always some old guy. He ain’t really old, just a little too old to be in the club.” [ Chris Rock: Bring the Pain ]

On love

“If you haven’t contemplated murder, you ain’t been in love. If you haven’t seriously thought about killing a motherfucker, you ain’t been in love. If you haven’t had a can of rat poison in your hand and looked at it for 45 minutes straight, you ain’t been in love. If you haven’t bought a shovel and a bag and a rug to roll their ass up in, you ain’t been in love. If you haven’t practiced your alibi in front of the mirror, you ain’t been in love. And the only thing that’s stopped you from killing this motherfucker was a episode of CSI: ‘Oh man, they thorough. I better make up. They might catch my ass.’” [ Chris Rock: Never Scared ]

“Have you ever made the mistake of going on a double date with the perfect couple? You’re in the middle of your bullshit relationship and you actually sit down with two people that are actually in love. You can’t even eat your food cause you can’t believe what the fuck you are witnessing. You got a fork in your hand like, ‘Oh shit! He’s really listening to what she’s got to say! Wow! They really like being around each other! Man, we can’t hang with them no more, they gonna break us up. Can’t let these happy motherfuckers fuck up my life!’” [ Chris Rock: Never Scared ]

On keeping it fresh

“Whenever I go out with other married couples, I like to bring along a single crackhead. Just spicin’ up the activities. ‘Come on, tell us some of your cracky tales, please!'” [ Chris Rock: Never Scared ]

On parenthood

When I hear people talk about juggling, or the sacrifices they make for their children, I look at them like they’re crazy, because ‘sacrifice’ infers that there was something better to do than being with your children. And I’ve never been with my kids and gone, ‘Man, I wish I was on my stage right now.’ I’ve never been with my kids and gone, ‘Man, it’d be so great if I was on a movie set right now.’ But I’ve been doing a movie and wished that I was with my kids, I’ve been on tour and wished that I was with my kids. Being with my kids is the best, most fun thing, it’s a privilege. It’s not something I call a sacrifice.” [NPR]

“Two kids are easier than one, because they play together. When you have one, you have to be the show. When you have two, you’re just the usher. Like, ‘Right this way, ladies.’ They can play in the park and you’re reading the paper. Like, ‘Hey, get off her hair,’ and go back to reading. When you got one, you’re down there in the sands. It’s horrible. One kid is horrible. Have a bunch of kids or have none at all.” [ The Tonight Show ]

On careers

“Some people have jobs, some people have careers… If you’ve got a career, thank God. If you’ve got a job, I hope you get a career one day. Because when you’ve got a career, there ain’t enough time in the day. When you’ve got a career, you look at your watch, time just flies: Whoa, it’s 5:35! I gotta come in early tomorrow and work on my project! Cause there ain’t enough time, when you’ve got a career. When you’ve got a job? There’s too much time. You look at your watch like, Aw, shit, 9:08! You don’t even trust the time when you’ve got a job, be like: What time you got, what time you got?” [ Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger ]

On career goals

“[When you start] you had three goals: (1) To get good at comedy. (2) To make money from comedy. And (3) to get laid from comedy. What do we do now? Well, people seem to think we’re good. We have money. We’re married, so the whole working to get laid thing is over. Sad to say, but we work now to maintain our lifestyles, to not suck, and to avoid Celebrity Apprentice.” [ Vanity Fair ]

On fame

“I remember I used to see Christian Slater movies all the time. One day they just stopped making ’em. He didn’t get a memo. No one passes you a note. I remember having Jimmie Walker hats when I was a kid, lunch box, shirt, loose-leaf — you think he was warned? No. You think, Oh, I haven’t worked in six months, I’ll get a job next week. Oh, I haven’t worked in a year, now I got to really concentrate on it. It’s like finding out somebody cheated on you.” [ Esquire ]

On doing bad movies

“You don’t know how bad you’ve done until you do something good and you see the difference in the reaction. Because people tell you everything’s great! People tell you your movie’s great, your stand-up’s great, and then you give them something good and you see the same people and their reaction, and you go, ‘Oh shit, you were lying about that other thing!'” [ THR ]

On his film choices

“Put it this way: I don’t want to be in anything that happened before the Jackson 5. Anything before them is just black misery. Everything before the Jackson 5 is essentially slavery, or close to it. So as far as I’m concerned, Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine and Jackie ended slavery.” [ Rolling Stone ]

On acting

“People want comedians to be funny. I mean I love Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but it ain’t a better performance than in Dumb & Dumber. I can do serious roles sometimes in other people’s movies but not in one of my own. I don’t wanna ask my fans to come and not laugh at me: ‘Hey! Come on, let’s go see Chris Rock not be funny!’” [ The Guardian ]

On Hollywood

“When it comes to casting, Hollywood pretty much decides to cast a black guy or they don’t. We’re never on the ‘short list.’ We’re never ‘in the mix.’ When there’s a hot part in town and the guys are reading for it, that’s just what happens. It was never like, “Is it going to be Ryan Gosling or Chiwetel Ejiofor for Fifty Shades of Grey?” And you know, black people fuck, too. White women actually want to fuck black guys, sometimes more than white guys. More women want to fuck Tyrese than Jamie Dornan, and it’s not even close. It’s not a contest. Even Jamie would go, ‘OK, you got it.’” [ THR ]

On directing

“You know, studios only wanna make like four movies (a year). One stars Tom Hanks, one stars Tom Cruise, one stars Julia Roberts. Then the fourth one is one they just ended up making. It’s like, ‘We need something for the fourth quarter!’ You know what I mean? So unless you’re one of these huge stars, it’s really about momentum when you write a movie. You sell your movie, and if you have your director, you can go. If you gotta look for a director, then you’re kinda fucked. And even if you find a director, he’s gonna wanna do his rewrite – it adds a year to the process. So this seemed like the quickest way to get it done.” [Contact Music]

On themes and subtext

“People always think, What were you trying to say? I’m not trying to say nothing, I’m just trying to entertain people, trying to make things that don’t bore me. Trying to make things that feel authentic. Trying to make a movie that I haven’t seen. In a tone I haven’t seen. That’s what I’m trying to do… I’m not Public Enemy, I’m not KRS-One — I love those guys. Don’t get me wrong. [Pauses.] I think I’m more Ice Cube. He stumbles across political themes from time to time, but he’s literally just entertaining people. You might have the most militant record in the world and then he makes Are We There Yet?” [Grantland]

“The beauty of Rocky is, Rocky‘s like life. You think you’re watching a boxing movie, and at the very end you realize, ‘Oh shit, I’ve been watching a love story the whole time.’ And life is like that. We write and we do all this stuff, but your happiness is going to be found in your relationships. If you talk about school right now, you went to school every day and you learned for six hours a day, but if I ask you about school, you’ll remember who you were f—ing, who didn’t want to f— you, that’s all you remember. And that’s what the beauty of Rocky is. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he just got punched in the face a thousand times by this big guy, but it’s all about this girl.” [ THR ]

On hosting the Oscars

When I got the job, the first thing I asked was, ‘Are we doing a TV show or is this a banquet? Because if it’s a banquet, let’s not change anything. But if it’s a TV show, this motherfucker’s got to move.’ My goal in life was to host the MTV Awards, because it’s the awards show that Prince sang on, and that was the awards show that Eddie Murphy hosted and Arsenio hosted. It’s hard to remember that the MTV Awards used to be huge. So the Oscars just wasn’t that thing to me.” [ Esquire ]

On workshopping material

The sad thing, with all this taping and stuff, no one’s going to do stand-up. And every big stand-up I talk to says: ‘How do I work out new material? Where can you go, if I have a half an idea and then it’s on the Internet next week?’ Just look at some of my material. You can’t imagine how rough it was and how unfunny and how sexist or racist it might have seemed. ‘Niggas vs. Black People’ probably took me six months to get that thing right. You know how racist that thing was a week in? That’s not to be seen by anybody.” [ The New York Times ]

On evolving on-stage

The audience knows I’m older, the audience knows I make money, so why ignore that? It’s a delicate way, it’s like how do I talk about this life and make it relate to everyone in the audience? So it’s a fine line … getting any joke in which you’re rich to work is really hard, but you know, just because you’re doing well in life doesn’t mean you can’t complain, too. That’s basically it. Pretty girls have problems too.” [NPR]

“Does having a wife and kids change your act? Yes, but only in the best way. It gives you weight and authority. It also makes you closer to the audience because the audience is married and has kids. People without kids know nothing about kids. Jokes about your kids are always better than jokes about your brother’s kids. Married guys know more about women than single guys. Single guys have girlfriends. Girlfriends are always auditioning, always on their best behavior. Wives are like Supreme Court justices — they do whatever the fuck they want.” [ Vanity Fair ]

On aging

“When you die at 72, no matter what you die of, it’s natural causes. Even if you get hit by a truck, it’s natural causes. ‘Cause if you was younger, you’d have got out the way!” [ Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger ]