Chris Rock: Selective Outrage

Chris Rock: Selective Outrage might not be his tightest stand-up special, but Rock still delivers like only he can
Chris Rock
Comedy, Stand-Up
Release date
March 4, 2023
Where to watch
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Is It Funny?
Rating Summary
Chris Rock: Selective Outrage mostly lands, but it lacks the focus and spit and polish that would make it worth more than a one-time viewing.

Ready to feel old? Chris Rock’s first comedy special, “Big Ass Jokes,” was released on HBO in 1994. Since then, Rock has skyrocketed to fame and fortune, starring in multiple stand-up specials as well as films like New Jack City, Lethal Weapon 4, and the Madagascar franchise. Now, Rock is back on stage in his first special since the “slap heard around the world,” and he’s once again dishing it out to mostly laughter, a bit of clapter, and one or two crickets.

Chris Rock: Selective Outrage

Critiquing standup is especially challenging since, by its very nature, comedy is completely subjective. Unlike films, which have some objective elements, no one cares about the production value or cinematography of a comedy special. The only thing that matters is, is it funny.

Chris Rock: Selective Outrage is funny…mostly. In the traditions of pre-woke comedians, Rock tackles topics like the hypocrisy of woke victimhood, Megan Markle’s cries of racism, virtue signaling, and more, and it’s really good. However, he’s still Chris Rock and his personal politics poke through a couple of times as he bashes Republicans while only slapping Democrats on the wrist, and dismisses the racism that is currently being directed toward white people because white people own airlines and, therefore, don’t have anything to be angry about. Don’t get me wrong, Rock’s personal wokeness is a very small portion of the special, and only slightly affects its quality, but it’s there.

One of the special’s biggest problems is that Rock’s core shtick of, “black people be like…white people be like,” is a bit tired, and it accounts for a significant chunk of the program. Also, Rock himself seems tired. At nearly 60 years of age, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t have the same energy as he did when he was in his 30s, but he still looks and sounds young, so it’s hard to reconcile as a viewer.

What’s not hard to reconcile is that Rock is a grown man with a family who’s still joking about “p#$$y” like a teenager. In one breath he’s talking about his 20-year-old daughter and what a success she is, and in the next, he’s crassly describing how he’ll lick a butt. It’s a jarring contrast and also feels like something that he should have outgrown by now.

Finally, Rock is a veteran comedian and a legend in the business. Therefore, when he blew the biggest joke of the routine, the closing bit no less, and failed to stick the landing, it was a huge letdown. One of the best things about comedy is not knowing what’s coming, and when Rock telegraphed his last two punchlines in a fumble that he acknowledged as such on stage, it virtually killed all of his momentum. Instead of finishing the special on a high, it was a rather deflated and bittersweet conclusion.

**UPDATE** Apparently, Netflix has edited the mistake out for future viewers.

All in all, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage is funny and not a waste of your time, but, as a whole, it’s not good enough for us to recommend it as Worth it, though parts of it are.


  • As mentioned in the review, Rock isn’t able to place himself in the shoes of white people who are facing discrimination in schools, all entertainment mediums, and in the news right now. Instead, he seems to think that, because the majority of powerful and rich people in the U.S. are white, it invalidates it. Well, 75% of Americans are white, so it makes total statistical sense that there would be more of us in nearly every position and walk of life in the country. That doesn’t mean that the discrimination that we are facing isn’t happening and isn’t a troubling issue. Acknowledging it doesn’t invalidate the racism that black Americans have faced. Two things can be true at the same time.
  • The assertion that Serena Williams is the greatest player in the history of tennis is feminist b.s. She may be the greatest female player of all time, but it wasn’t that many years ago when she admitted to David Letterman that she couldn’t beat any man in the top 100.
  • He plays a bit fast and loose with the topic of abortion. On the one hand, he admits that it is murdering a baby. On the other hand, he says that he’s paid for numerous abortions and gives justifications for the procedure.

James Carrick

James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.

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