Divine Comedy: 25 Best Stand-Up Specials and Movies

From classic HBO specials to arena-comic concert flicks, these bits continue to crack us up

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2. 'Chris Rock: Bring the Pain' (1996)

Anyone who'd seen him his early stand-up or more memorable SNL sketches knew Rock had comic chops; what most folks didn't know was that greatest stand-up of our generation has been honing an act for two years that would turn out to be a genuine gamechanger. Cracking the mic cable like a whip, the comedian prowls the stage, repeating his premises and grinning like he can't wait to land his next punch. He takes on everything from why you don't cheat on your spouse to O.J. Simpson, though the most notorious, and most deservedly revered, bit is Rock's deliberation of what he calls a civil war going on in the African-American community — "n----s vs. black people," a piece that's still debated today. "[Rock] makes us laugh not only because of perfect writing, skewed associations and rock-steady timing but also because of pain," playwright and performer Eric Bogosian wrote in the New York Times in 1997, the year after Bring the Pain first aired. "This is the flip side of the deep anger curdling the American dream; it is anger transformed into entertainment." ML

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