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Chris Rock ranks the 'Top Five' comedies, stand-ups, and movie cameos

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Zombieland

In his new movie, Top Five, out Dec. 5, Chris Rock plays a movie star whose already-fading career is about to crumble on the day he’s being interviewed by a savvy New York Times reporter ­(Rosario Dawson) about his comedy career, his ambitious new Oscar-bait movie about the Haitian revolution, and his imminent nuptials to a reality star. She accompanies him to his old neighborhood, where he and his friends kill time arguing about their top five rappers. “What are the normal ­conversations—not the contrived romantic-­comedy conversations—that happen when you get a bunch of old friends together?” Rock says, describing the scene.

EW asked Rock to give us his own MC list—then we got greedy and had him rank a bunch of other stuff, too.

TOP FIVE RAPPERS (IN 2014)

1. Kanye West

“Jay Z’s graduated to the all-time list at this point, but Kanye is the most interesting person in the history of rap—the most interesting artist, the most interesting sounds. There’s never been a rapper with a mystique, and he’s that guy. You wonder what he’s going to say. You wonder what he’s going to wear. You wonder who he’s dated. Rap’s never had that—a David Bowie- or Prince-type guy. He’s cornered the market on it.”

2. Rick Ross

“Everybody else in music right now, some of their fans are little kids. No matter who it is, no matter how dirty, everybody in music right now has a little toe in Nickelodeon, let’s say. Whereas Rick Ross is making grownup rap. He’s making a kind of gritty, ugly, amazing music that no one’s even attempting at this point. Everybody’s trying to be so pretty. Everybody wants to be in a fashion show, and Rick Ross could give less than a f-ck.”

3. Nicki Minaj

“The thing about Nicki is it’s not even about her and other female rappers—she’s better than most guys. She’s just a great package. She’s got skills, she’s really beautiful, and she’s actually really funny too. If you want to just talk sh-t, about how bad you are, and who’s got a better Bentley, and how good you look, heyyy, nobody wants to follow her. She’s amazing.”

4. Kendrick Lamar

“He’s almost like a dream MC because he’s kind of an East Coast MC with a West Coast swagger about him. You don’t really meet a lot of West Coast rappers with quotable lines. So he’s like a West Coast Nas. He’s got great confidence. He’s one of the few rappers that’s great live. He may end up being the best rapper that Dre’s had, and I know that’s blasphemous considering Dre’s had Ice Cube, Snoop, and Eminem, but this guy’s really, really good.”

5. Drake

“Drake’s got a real sense of humor and just really good rhymes, really good flow. It’s easy to hate, but the guy’s a little too good for that. Everyone on my list is really funny—and that’s the thing rappers overlook. Usually, when they start to fall off, [it’s because] they’re just too serious. Drake is hysterical: ‘I wear every single chain, even when I’m in the house…’ And the video where he’s in the white Bentley going down the street slow, it’s hysterical. Everybody kind of has a toe in Nickelodeon, and Drake picked up the LL Cool J ball, you know what I mean. ‘LL Cool J is doing a TV show and he’s a grown man? Okay, who’s going to be that [next] guy?’ ‘Oh, it’s going to be Drake.'”

TOP FIVE COMEDIES

1. The Nutty Professor (1996)

“If a comedian’s ever been robbed of an Oscar, it’s Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor. Years after Saturday Night Live, you got Eddie playing five or six characters in a movie—and I had never seen any of them. There’s nobody from SNL. There’s nobody from Coming to America or anything. It’s just an amazing performance, and you feel that mother, you feel that father, and the brother, and Sherman. It’s one of the best performance you’re ever going to see—Peter Sellers-esque. Eddie was on fire; I missed that guy. I also love it because it’s like the blackest movie—a real African-American movie. People always go, ‘Oh, will this movie cross over? Will that movie cross over?’ There’s not a lot of movies blacker than The Nutty Professor.”

2. Broadway Danny Rose

“When push comes to shove, it’s kind of my favorite Woody Allen movie. It’s kind of a perfect movie—a perfect commentary on show business, a perfect love story. It’s in between Take the Money and Run and Manhattan—not as serious as Manhattan, not as silly as Take the Money and Run. Mia Farrow is actually genius in the movie. And it’s about comedians, and you have all these amazing comedians and the Carnegie Deli. He should actually make it into a play.”

3. Superbad

Superbad is a better love story than The Notebook. It’s a completely heterosexual love story that literally made me cry the first time I saw it. Superbad has the best Jonah Hill performance ever. He’d done stuff before, but it was like, “Okay, world, here I am. I’m as funny as anybody.” Jonah’s like a cross between Eddie Murphy and Harvey Weinstein. I had never seen a guy give less than a f-ck, not care about being likable at all. He’s a total scumbag and totally charming at the exact same time.”

4. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut

“There’s no movie that ever got bigger laughs than South Park. Ever. You’ve never laughed that hard in a movie theater. You’ve never seen anything that dirty. I remember just sitting in the theater, and even though we were all prepared—hey, it’s South Park—nothing prepared you for it. It’s like getting on a roller coaster that’s faster than you thought it was. Like, ‘Oh s—! Am I going to fall off? Am I going to get hurt here? Are we going to die?’ That’s how funny it was: ‘Are we going to die?'”

5. Borat

“That’s another one, like South Park, where half of it is the movie and the other half is the experience of seeing the movie. You couldn’t believe that this was happening: ‘The Gods have f-cking answered my prayers and they’re giving me the kind of comedy I’ve always wanted!’ Borat is like the first time you did heroin, you know what I mean. Just greeeeat! I’ve never shot up but something tells me it’s like seeing Borat for the first time. Then you go back [and see it again] just to make sure it wasn’t a lie. Like, ‘That could not have actually happened.’ But it was also so sweet, that’s the thing. When people are making these movies, they always forget that. They think it’s just, ‘Throw more dirt on it.’ They don’t realize how much heart it takes for the dopey stuff to work.”

TOP FIVE FAST FOODS

1. McDonald’s fries

“You really can’t go wrong with McDonald’s fries. They’re not quite as good as they used to be because they don’t cook with the fat that they used to. So they got a tad healthier. But it’s still better than everybody else’s fries—by far.”

2. Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich

“The No. 6 never lets you down, dude. It’s just spicy enough to keep your attention but not force you to scrub your tongue. It’s not quite health food, but you don’t feel like you’re eating junk. Chick-fil-A might be better, but you can’t go there because of the whole politics thing. I just know they’re going to take my picture and I’ll end up apologizing. I don’t need that. I send my assistant over to get my Chick-fil-A like everybody else.”

3. Chipotle burrito bowl

“It’s almost the illusion that you’re eating a salad. It’s the illusion that you’re eating healthy. It’s just a burrito in a bowl without the shell. But they toss some lettuce in there, and you actually feel better about yourself. That’s the thing: you feel like you’ve actually made an effort. Chipotle’s figured something out: it’s not what you eat, it’s how you feel after you eat.”

4. Five Guys hot dog

“It’s weird because the best thing at Five Guys is not the burgers. It’s the hot dogs that they split open and grill. One hot dog is a meal. The bread is amazing. It’s like a hot dog sandwich, and it’s shockingly good.”

5. Shake Shack burger

“Remember how good McDonald’s tasted when you were 9 years old? Nothing tasted that good. But Shake Shack, that’s what they figured out: how to make something that tastes like McDonald’s tasted when you were 9. Somebody there actually realized that people want meat in burgers. I don’t know what they do, but it’s that good.”

TOP FIVE STAND-UP SPECIALS

1. Richard Pryor: Live in Concert

“Every comedian will tell you that is by far the greatest piece of standup ever done. It’s actually Richard Pryor’s best movie. It’s actually one of the best movies ever. I was a kid when I saw it—probably when I was 10, 12 or whatever. But I couldn’t understand it until I became a man. It was kind of too dense for a kid to understand. Richard Pryor: Live in Concert, you’ve got to live some life to know what the f-ck he’s talking about. This is some grown-people sh-t. It’s vulnerable. It’s political. I wish I could do one half that good. Every comedian will tell you: there’s nothing even close.”

2. Dave Chappelle: Killin’ Them Softly

“I’m always going to say that Pryor was the best, but my favorite special, personally, that makes me laugh the hardest is Killin’ Them Softly. Normally, if I watch somebody and I think they’re good, they got, like, one or two jokes I wish I’d done. Killin’ Them Softly’s got, like, 20 jokes I wish I’d done. It’s Chappelle at his all-time greatest, at the height of his super­powers. His imagination is so unlimited, and the whole world’s in front of him. My good friend [DJ and producer] Prince Paul always says, ‘Competition keeps you in condition.’ That motherf—er worked me out that day. Killin’ Them Softly was so good I didn’t want to get on stage for about a month.”

3. Eddie Murphy Delirious

“The thing about Eddie that’s weird and ingenious: most comedians save their dirtiest material for last. They do the clean stuff and then they ease into the dirty stuff. Every comedian does that. Eddie Murphy does the exact opposite. He opens with the dirtiest material you’ve ever heard: the thing with Ralph Kramden f-cking Ed Norton in the ass. Before you’ve even sat down, it’s just the dirtiest stuff ever. Delirious is a great showcase too. It’s like, “Okay, am I a handsome guy? Check. I do great impressions, check. Great jokes, check. Characters, check.” It’s unbelievable. Pryor’s special is the best but Eddie was the most entertaining comedian that ever lived. When you think about his career, and what was to come, it’s a great little time capsule of where he was, where the culture was, where the country was, where black people were. This is a guy that was, literally, like a Sinatra record, “I got the world on a string, sitting on a rainbow…”

4. Steve Harvey: One Man

Steve Harvey: One Man is the most underrated. It’s one of these HBO specials that nobody knows about. I know you see him on the Family Feud, and I know you see him on his morning show, and it’s all very family friendly. But if you really want to see Steve Harvey, this is the special. Me and Seinfeld talk about it all the time: it’s some of the best material I’ve ever seen anybody do. He’s really working the audience. Willie Turner getting fired from his job? Basically the difference between a black guy getting fired and a white guy getting fired. Doesn’t sound like the greatest premise, right? When you see Steve Harvey do this sh-t, you will be be screaming. ‘Give me my check! Gimmemacheck!’ The funniest sh-t ever.”

5. Louis C.K.: Shameless

“It’s a guy realizing he’s got powers. It’s a guy who’s been writing for people for the last 15 years and he realizes, ‘Wait a minute, I’m funny!’ It’s before the TV show; it’s before he’d done any movies or anything. He’s happy and talking about his kids. It just showcases him at his best. I like to see people happy. Because comedians are a sad bunch of guys, but every now and then you catch them happy at the right moment and it’s unbelievable. They actually do their best work happy.”

TOP FIVE MOVIE CAMEOS

1. Bill Murray, Zombieland

“Bill Murray lives a couple of miles from me, and he kind of lives in a house like that. If the apocalypse came, he would be living like that. He was just the perfect guy to see in that thing, and he plays the character of Bill Murray so well. Zombie­land’s a great gift, and then to top it off, he’s in it!”

2. Marshall McLuhan, Annie Hall

“Marshall McLuhan is the greatest f-ck-you ever. It’s something you wish you could do, just to shut somebody up. It’s almost like a Bugs Bunny move, pulling McLuhan out—and I didn’t even know who McLuhan was the first time I saw it. So many movies have tried to take that move, too. If you got a great Stephen Hawking or Malcom Gladwell cameo, that would be the equivalent today.”

3. Merv Griffin, The Man With Two Brains

“Bill Murray fits into Zombieland; there’s no reason for Merv Griffin to be in The Man With Two Brains. But it’s like the greatest joke ever that Merv Griffin is the man behind all this sinister sh-t. And he’s great being Merv Griffin. You know, not everybody’s great being themselves.”

4. Mike Tyson, The Hangover

“You saw Mike Tyson in The Hangover and people were like, ‘Okay, we forgive you. I guess it’s been a long enough time. I guess you’ve been in jail.’ You were almost just happy to see this guy alive. And then he gives you what you want: He punches people in the f–king face.”

5. Michael Jackson, Men in Black II

“There might be better ones, but in a weird way, that’s like his last bit of normalcy, that he was in on the joke, that he’s an alien or whatever. Everything after that just got weird. I mean, he was weird then, but—I don’t know, any movie that can get Michael Freakin’ Jackson in it, and it actually fits, that is quite an accomplishment, okay? That it doesn’t halt the movie and it makes perfect sense—you, my friend, have created a world and probably have a hit movie.”