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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Chris Rock: Total Blackout Review | Manchester Arena

Don’t call it a comeback.

After a decade-long wait, Chris Rock has hit refresh and returned to the U.K. with his latest stand up tour, Total Blackout. Rock’s return to form has apparently been made possible by his divorce as he brings the personal and the pain of his life on show.

It is a late starting performance, but you are recommended to arrive early due to the Manchester terror attack (May 22, 2017) that has seen a boost in the arena's security that now runs three layers deep. After checking tickets and going through metal detectors, an added Yondr pouch is provided to ensure the concert is a mobile free zone.

Fortunately, there was no need to keep track of the time or entertain yourself before the show starts. Instead, compere Jeff Ross kept the audience focused on the funny, introducing two American warm-up acts, starting with The Daily Show contributor, Michelle Wolf. Anthony Jeselnik’s slow delivery brought an easy listening arrogance before the Roast Master General, Ross (known mainly from the Comedy Central series) brought up a handful of brave/drunk volunteers to be insulted directly onstage.

Then it was time for the main act. With a sign behind him stating Comfort Is The Poison, Rock brought a familiar feel to his new circumstances. With topics switching from religion, politics, family and dating, the show felt like a fleeting moment. Rock apparently even had the time to Google Moss Side (or Mose Side according to him), comparing its troubling streets to the startling deprived corners of Jamaica.

You shouldn’t review jokes and comedy is very much a personal preference, but anyone familiar with Chris Rock's work will not be disappointed with his latest show. His tone of voice hasn’t changed, and you can sense where he is taking you when he tackles topics like relationships. Specifically, how to keep a relationship going, which is in line with his observational humour. Rock’s comedy shows have never been highly political and here his focus on entertainment in line with his ethical issues (bullying, porn and Trump) are segues that swiftly circle back to himself.

Regardless of the reasons for his new specials, I’m thrilled he’s back. Chris Rock is made for the stage. It has fashioned some of his most personal and memorable work. Total Blackout is old-school comedy at its best, with no projectors, props or facade needed.

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