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Jewish World Review /Oct. 23, 1998/3 Mar-Cheshvan, 5759

Larry Elder

Larry Elder

My evening with
Chris Rock


So I was flattered and excited when a booker called from the comedian's HBO show. Want to appear as a guest?

"Absolutely," I said. "Let's do it."

If you're unfamiliar with young black comic Chris Rock, too bad. Oh, his raw, in-your-face humor won't suit everyone's taste. He is hip, witty, brash and sometimes vulgar. Oh, and funny. Real funny. Part Richard Pryor, part Mort Sahl, Rock, recently profiled on "60 Minutes," blasts away at what I call the victicrat mentality. Blacks complain that the media distorts our images. Get real, Rock says, when I nervously go to a money machine at night, I ain't lookin' over my shoulder for the media!

So off to New York for the taping. During the "pre-interview," Rock's savvy producer, Nelson George, said, "You call yourself a libertarian. What's the difference between that and a conservative?" A libertarian, I explain, believes in limited government that stays out of my wallet, as well as my bedroom.

For example, I am pro-choice and believe that gays should be able to serve openly in the military and that the state ought not stop homosexuals from marrying. I find the war on drugs foolish, and support the legalization of gambling and prostitution. If that's conservatism, I said, don't tell Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott or Jerry Falwell. He laughed and said that Rock will first give me a chance to define my ideology. Great, I thought, young people know little about libertarianism, and I will happily explain it. Get 'em thinking.

"What about the Clinton scandal?" he asks. Impeach him, I responded. Assuming the allegations are true -- perjury, subornation of perjury, obstruction of justice -- these are impeachable offenses. A country built on the rule of law cannot give a free pass to anyone, especially the nation's No. 1 law enforcement officer.

He then asks my position on several issues. Affirmative action? Agin' it, I said. Morally wrong, and maintains the myth that but for affirmative action, there is no black middle class.

Gun control? Agin' it, I said. In states where citizens can carry concealed weapons, the murder rate declined.

Minimum wage? Agin' it. Hate-crimes legislation? Agin' it. A lot of stuff to cover, I thought, in a mere six or seven minutes.

All right. It's show time!

"Our first guest is the controversial ... talk show host, Larry Elder," Chris Rock bellowed. I bounded out to a young, largely black audience, whipped into a frenzy by Rock's manic energy and funny opening monologue.

"I saw you on '60 Minutes' and Politically Incorrect,'" Rock said, "And you're ... the first black guy I saw ... that said Clinton should get impeached. Why?" I said that it appears the president lied under oath, tried to get others to lie, tampered with witnesses and organized an obstruction of justice.

Rock went bonkers. It was consensual sex! What's wrong with that? Turning to the audience, he said, if you have sex with me, I'll give you a job. Obstruction of justice? If you get pulled over by a cop, and deny speeding, "If you don't say 'take my black (behind) to jail,' you are obstructing justice." Sexual harassment? "I wouldn't be here if my father hadn't sexually harassed my mom!" As hard as I tried, I often couldn't out-shout him and struggled to make serious points while cracking up at his quips, lines and wit.

But, Chris, I argued, people go to jail for committing perjury. For lying about consensual sex, Rock asked. "That's right," I said. The audience booed. (Fortunately, none, to the best of my knowledge, sit on the House Judiciary Committee.) Yet I extracted a smattering of applause by insisting that America derives its strength from a foundation based on the rule of law and the Constitution. After what seemed like 90 seconds (actually nearly 9 minutes), I exited, stage left.

"You are the best guest we've ever had," said producer George.

"I was?" I said.

"You stood up to him, when most guests would have run for cover."

I didn't recall getting a word in edgewise, but when I looked at the show later, I was relieved that I'd said more than I remembered and made more sense than I thought.

Later, my mother asked why I let Rock "run all over me." Brutal critic, my mom. If she'd gone into politics, she would have been president. If she'd gone into crime, she would have been the Boston Strangler.

"Aw, c'mon, Mom," I said, "I had a good time, flew first class to New York and got to go at it on national TV with perhaps the best and most creative comic of our time."

Too bad, though, I never got to the libertarian stuff. But they want me back. Maybe then, I'll get to use the "L" word. OK, Mr. Rock, round two.


10/15/98: Slavery is not funny
10/02/98: Clinton --- friend of the working woman
9/28/98: George Washington vs. the Grand Jury
9/18/98: It's the perjury, stupid
9/14/98: The "Larry List" of the most fascinating women in politics
9/07/98: Why blacks shouldn't support Clinton
8/27/98:The Brown bomber strikes Justice Thomas
8/21/98:So very clintonesque
8/17/98: Gary Coleman, hate criminal?
8/07/98: How much mea culpa?
7/24/98: ATM Al?
7/24/98: Advising the advisors
7/17/98: Camille Cosby's carelessness
7/9/98: Moses mugged
7/2/98: Al Campanis -- forever a racist?
6/25/98: And you thought "coke" was worse than smokes
6/19/98: Is Jasper ‘America'?
6/12/98: Guess who's not coming to dinner
6/5/98: What now, NOW?
5/29/98:What's next, ‘burger busters'?
5/21/98: 'Stuff' happens
5/18/98: This just in
5/11/98: Stepping up
4/30/98: Who's faking whom?
4/16/98:To spank or not to spank

©1998, Laurence A. Elder