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Chris Rock hangs onto his edge — in between ‘Madagascar’ cartoons

Published: Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 19:06


Dreamworks Animation Studios

Chris Rock may be 47 and family-friendly enough to turn up in every “Madagascar” cartoon (including the new one, “Europe’s Most Wanted”) to come out. But even in middle age, he can still be controversial when the need arises.

Don’t get him started about politics if you don’t want to hear “what a MESS the president had to clean up. If you know anything about cleaning, you know things get dirtier before they get cleaner.”

The punch line won’t win him many Mitt Romney fans.

“You know who doesn’t understand cleaning? People who never do it. Rich people. No idea what you’re talking about.”

He’s prepping his second documentary, a follow-up to his African-American hair-care expose, “Good Hair.” It’s called “Credit is the Devil.”

“It IS the devil. It destroys lives. My parents are Depression-era parents, fanatics about saving. But nobody’s about saving anymore. No one cares about a rainy day any more. Nobody saves up enough even an UMBRELLA for a rainy day. It’s sad. It really is a new form of slavery. We used to work to be able to afford material things. Now we work FOR these things. They’re the boss. That house you can’t afford, that car that’s out of your price range, that cell phone that drains your bank account, they’re your BOSS. You work for them, these objects that depreciate in value a little every single day.”

So Rock tries to practice what he preaches. He has two daughters, 8 and 10. He’s saving that “Madagascar” money for them. He’s trying to maintain every aspect of his Emmy and Grammy-winning career: an edgy stand-up act — Comedy Central named him the fifth best stand-up of all time — and the occasional movie (He was the PG-13 voice of daddy reason in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” for which he wrote his own part, one “rich with one-liners,” as critic Roger Ebert put it).

And then there are the kids’ films.

“I’d love to do more animation. I do have a voice that stands out in a crowd. But oh my God. Am I the elder statesman of stand-up? OK, there aren’t a LOT of guys still doing it who are older. I’ve been around. I will admit that. Been there. Done that.

“I’m in the middle of ‘Grown-Ups 2’ right now. And me and (Adam) Sandler had a lot of ‘What do we do now, you know, now that we’re OLD,’ conversations. We didn’t figure it out. But we’re working on it.

“I’m trying to walk that tight rope, you know? Family friendly, but hanging onto my edge. Putting together a stand-up act I can take on the road next year.”

And he gets a kick out of playing Marty, the free spirit/ wisecracking zebra of the “Madagascar” movies. “My girls, THIS time we don’t have to drag them to the movie. They can bring their friends, show off their dad, have a good time.

“And this time they get to hear Daddy sing. OK, I can of wail a song (his “Afro Circus” chant, seen in all the ads for the movie). Finally, I get to sing in a movie!”

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