“Saturday Night Live” via YouTube

Chris Rock may be verging on 50, but he’s not showing many signs of mellowing with age — even if he does have to force the odd Uber joke here and there to look relevant.

He has the benefit of having scrapped it out and made it work for decades in the comedy business and in Hollywood more generally, and he shares some sharp observations with New York magazine’s Frank Rich about a host of subjects, including the current state of race relations in America, how to do stand-up and how to be president. When talking about the class system in America, Rock says:

“America — not black America, but America as a whole — started in England and was ruled by kings and queens and had a class system. I’m almost of the mind that that’s what America wants at the end of the day. … Oh, people don’t even know. If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets. If the average person could see the Virgin Airlines first-class lounge, they’d go, “What? What? This is food, and it’s free, and they … what? Massage? Are you kidding me?”

Rock also rails against a particular kind of conservatism that holds sway at American colleges — not in terms of students’ party affiliation, but rather in the sense of their strong aversion to material they might find offensive. He’s stopped performing on campuses around the country for that reason.

As for electoral politics, Rock points out that George W. Bush revolutionized his presidency by pandering to his constituents while Barack Obama tried (and failed) to bring all sides into his camp. And touching on sexual politics, Rock says that Apple CEO Tim Cook’s recent choice to come out as gay was huge given the corporate boys’ club of which Cook is an elite member.

Of course, Rock doesn’t mince his words when it comes to race relations:

“When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.

[…] So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

The interview is long and worth reading in its action-packed entirety, as Rock jumps from the Ferguson protests to Joan Rivers’ death to anecdotes about his family to the sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, one of Rock’s stars (as was Rivers).

Below is Rock’s recent “Saturday Night Live” monologue, which serves as Rich’s starting point for their interview, in which the host jokes about the Boston Marathon, the new Freedom Tower in New York City, guns and the commercialization of baby Jesus:

— Posted by Donald Kaufman.

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