Chris Rock was born one of seven kids to a truck-driver father and teacher mother, growing up in Brooklyn , N.Y. After 12 years of stand-up, Eddie Murphy discovered the comedian in 1984 and put him in 1987's Beverly Hills Cop II, and he joined Saturday Night Live in 1989. His real breakthrough came with the hit 1997 HBO special Bring the Pain.
Chris Rock starred in his first HBO comedy special in 1994 titled Big Ass Jokes. But it was his second stand-up special, 1996's Bring the Pain that reinvented Chris Rock as one of the best comedians in the industry. His routine, which featured commentaries on race in America , stirred up a great deal of controversy. Chris Rock won two Emmy Awards for that special. Adding to his popularity was his much-publicized role as a commentator for Comedy Central's Politically Incorrect during the 1996 Presidential elections which earned him another Emmy nomination. Chris Rock also was the voice for the "Lil Penny" puppet who was the alter ego to basketball star Penny Hardaway in a series of Nike shoe commercials from 1994-1998, and hosted the '97 MTV Video Music Awards.
Rock later had two more HBO comedy specials: Bigger & Blacker in 1999, and Never Scared in 2004. Articles relating to both specials called Rock "the funniest man in America " in Time and Entertainment Weekly, respectively. HBO also aired his talk show, The Chris Rock Show, which gained critical acclaim for Rock's interviews with celebrities and politicians. The show won an Emmy for writing. His television work has won him a total of three Emmy Awards and 15 nominations. By the end of the decade, Chris Rock was established as one of the preeminent stand-up comedians and comic minds of his generation.
During this time, Chris Rock also translated his comedy into print form in the book Rock This! and released the Grammy Award-winning comedy albums, Roll with the New, Bigger & Blacker and Never Scared.
He is currently working on his fifth HBO special.
His comedy typically involves race relations in the United States , politics, music, romance, and class relationships. Though not directly based on it, many of his comedic views are rooted in his teen years; his very strict parents, concerned about the neighborhood schools, had him bused to an almost all-white high school in Bensonhurst (an Italian-ethnic neighborhood of Brooklyn that was known at the time for poor race relations). Chris Rock claims to have been arrested four times: once for vehicular assault on a youth who had robbed him, and three times for traffic violations, including driving without a license and driving too slowly.
Chris Rock is uncomfortable with the idea of being seen as a larger than life figure in standup comedy as opposed to some of his heroes like Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor; when pressed for a statement during an interview with Playboy, he hesitated and finally responded: "I talked about race differently. I'll go that far".