Chris Rock first made his mark in a really big way on the stage of "Saturday Night Live" back in the 1990s. This morning he's on the stage of Harlem's Apollo Theater with our Mo Rocca for some Questions-and-Answers:
At 49 -- but looking 35 -- Chris Rock is recognized as one of our greatest stand-up comedians.
"You look a lot younger than 49," said Rocca.
"It's, you know, a rich 49!" he laughed. " I always say money's the best lotion in the world."
He's also been in a lot of movies, though he describes his movie career up until now as "middling."
As an actor, Rock hasn't always been recognized: "I am the zebra in 'Madagascar.' It's the biggest thing I've ever done. People are, 'Oh, you're this famous comedian.' No, I am the zebra, I am Marty.'"
Rocca retorted, "That's ridiculous. Most people do not think that."
"'Madagascar 3' made more money than every movie I've ever done combined," Rock replied.
But he said that maybe his latest, "Top Five," "will get me out of Marty's shadow."
"Top Five," which Rock wrote and directed, is his most personal film yet. Rock plays Andre Allen, a former stand-up comic who just wants some respect.
Rock packed his movie with some of today's best black comedic actors, among them Tracy Morgan and Sherri Shepherd.
"Not a lot of comics are generous about allowing other funny people in a scene," said Rocca. "You just loaded it up."
Rock said, "My favorite athlete ever is Magic Johnson. And Magic Johnson's all about passing. It's all about, like, setting up players, setting up people. I like dishing out and watching somebody jam. Actually, I get great pleasure from that."
But when Rock does stand-up, it's Rock and Rock alone.
From a 1999 routine:
"There ain't a white man in this room that would change places with me. None of you. None of you would change places with me, and I'm rich!"
He said his paternal grandfather was a great influence on him: "Yeah, my grandfather, my dad's father was a preacher. And I used to spend a lot of time with him. I would watch him write his sermons. I pretty much do what he did. He'd write the topics. And then he'd riff on the topics. And I kind of do comedy like he preached."
"Is there also, like, another relationship?" Rocca asked. "Because when you're delivering a sermon, you are trying to get at a truth."