Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld and Louis CK aren’t exactly comedians known for their family-friendly material. When the four of them got together in 2011 to have a chat, things went way off the rails way fast. The conversation devolved into three men flinging the n-word around casually while Jerry Seinfeld sat stone faced and clearly less-than-thrilled with the situation. The video was kind of forgotten for a while, but it’s back with a vengeance now and people are fighting about it … again.
Let’s set the scene for you. HBO had an unscripted show called Talking Funny in which four comedians would sit together and talk about their life and their work as comics. In this episode, Chris, Ricky, Louis and Jerry have a go at things. The video starts with Louis commenting that when white people get rich it becomes generational wealth whereas when black men get rich people mostly sit around expecting them to soon be broke again. Chris Rock then jokes that he guesses that makes Louis CK “the blackest white guy I f*cking know. All the negative things we thing about black people, this fucker…” and pats Louis on the knee. Louis quickly quips back “you’re saying I’m a n*gger.” and Chris goes “Yes. You are the n*ggerest f*cking white man…”
Jerry, visibly uncomfortable, states that he doesn’t think Louis can get away with using that word. The conversation quickly turns into a debate about who can or cannot use the word, where, when and how. Ricky and his trademark cackles chime in more than a few times. Louis goes on to defend his use of the word both on and off stage. Chris Rock encourages the conversation. Jerry sits mostly silent and plainly uncomfortable until the end of the video. Near the end of the chat Louis CK points out that Jerry doesn’t use the word on stage and Louis does, positioning himself as the edgier comic and stating that it’s the difference between the two.
Seinfeld coolly responds:
“Well, you’ve found the humor of [using that word]. I haven’t found it. Nor do I seek it.”
The whole thing plays out almost like the trio of Ricky, Chris, and Louis were attempting to see how many times they could drop the n-word and how uncomfortable they could make Jerry … and a huge portion of their viewing audience. Here’s the clip. Again, we remind you it’s from 2011 and none of the uses of the n-word are bleeped out. If you find it triggering, this may not be the video for you.
Also, maybe use headphones if you’re around other people.
Twitter is not loving it. Not only are people upset with Chris Rock for sitting there and encouraging the conversation, they’re pretty annoyed that Louis CK and Ricky Gervais have emerged from this pretty much unscathed when comics of color get harshly put through the wringer for similar offenses. Chris Rock’s past is seriously coming back to bite him right now.
In truth, I haven’t messed with Chris Rock since a white coworker used his “there are black people and there are n*ggers” bit against me a decade and a half ago. But this right here — his laughter and theirs — made me sick to my stomach. https://t.co/9rrwAFRY74
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) December 23, 2018
There is no white person on this planet that is so “down” that they can call me their n*gger, n*gga or any other word that sounds like it…
…or say it in my presence without getting CHECKED.
There are no exceptions….#ChrisRock
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) December 23, 2018
Vanity Fair, August 1998. Shot by Annie Leibovitz
“There’s nothing controversial about it if people are laughing” – Chris Rock pic.twitter.com/NI1t1oqtvC
— Shelby Ivey Christie (@bronze_bombSHEL) December 23, 2018
Note how proud Ricky Gervais was of the fact he used the n-word. And Louis CK basically said he’s one because black folks ain’t shit. Chris Rock is getting crucified, but those other two deserve massive smoke.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) December 23, 2018
Chris Rock enabled the convo. But clearly the other 2 willfully engaged it. It’s not either/or. https://t.co/u186EVFtuy
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) December 23, 2018
Jerry laughing with everyone til Louis CK drop that first n-word. Rest of the conversation he sitting there like pic.twitter.com/SVyMB4hcxX
— Ritz (@Its__Ritz) December 22, 2018
Why the hell was @chrisrock shucking, jiving & laughing with them.
Right Jerry, I don’t find the %#%* humor.pic.twitter.com/bxY36ECGnx
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) December 23, 2018
“You may wonder WTF I was thinking….”
Rock didn’t just sit there and let it happen. He encouraged Louis CK’s nonsense.
And Seinfeld. SEINFELD… who defended Michael Richards’ N word rant, was the only voice of reason. pic.twitter.com/jv20lM2xSA
— April (@ReignOfApril) December 23, 2018
Ricky Gervais could not look any happier to say the N-word once Louis CK said it in front of Chris Rock and that is troubling. https://t.co/yM4fdvyVSR
— Hanna 'Noble Warrior Hero' Flint (@HannaFlint) December 22, 2018
Even comedian Wayne Brady commented on the video – though he was less excited about Seinfeld’s quiet disapproval than most, calling it a tactical move. Interestingly, Brady pointed out that it’s an old video and he was sure it had already been addressed at some point and he isn’t necessarily down with the new trend of old stuff being dug up to use against people if it had already been handled. Brady then goes on to talk about how the comfortable use of the n-word is even affecting his kids lives.
So what are your thoughts on the matter? Is it okay to use the n-word in a comedic setting? In life in general? Were Louis and Ricky in the clear because Chris, a black man, was okay with it? Does any of this even matter since it happened in 2011? Sound off in the comments!