Over a decade into success, actor, comedian and entertainer, Tony Rock, is always on the grind, always looking for the next opportunity and steady slinging jokes. With his ability to improvise on the spot and his combination of physical comedy, with raw comedic content, his success comes as no surprise. It does however lead you to wonder where a true comedic artist of this caliber begins his journey. So we asked him…
When you think you’re working as hard as you possibly can, you can probably work a little bit harder.
Parlé: I grew up on a busy street myself, with plenty of kids around, so I can imagine what everyday might’ve been like for you. What was life like in the Rock house?
Tony Rock: It was the best. I mean, we didn’t have a lot of things, but when you have that many siblings, you’re going to find entertainment in each other. You know? So we didn’t have a lot as far as material things, but just having that many siblings, there was never a dull moment in the house. And then we had a busy street, so we had a lot of kids on the block, cousins across the street, and friends down the block. We grew up in like a little utopia in the middle of the ghetto. We thought it was all good where we lived. We didn’t know how dangerous it really was, how poor people were around us. Everybody was happy that we grew up around because we had each other.
Parlé: As kids we all had our dream careers and superhero jobs. What did Tony Rock want to be when he grew up?
Tony Rock: Only two jobs that I ever really, really wanted in my entire life. One was starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the second was to be a stand-up comic.
Parlé: Wow. (Laughs) Really?
Tony Rock: Yeah, and I’m not saying that I’m giving up on trying out for the Steelers one day, I’m just saying comedy’s going pretty good right now (laughs).
Parlé:Well I think so far you got the better of the two! (laughs)
Tony Rock: (Laughs) Well the Steelers got six rings so I don’t know!
Parlé: You’re right, you are right. Now, growing up we all had that one or two people that we loved to impersonate. The crazy uncles or aunts, our parents when they were drunk, (laughs) all the crazy things. Who were your character inspirations, or maybe some of those personalities that you still use today in your comedy that you got from growing up?
Tony Rock: Well a lot of times when I’m doing a character–and my brothers could tell you this, like if you watch the sitcom and I’m being physical or doing something really crazy, all I’m really doing is imitating my brother Kenny. Physical comedy, he’s like Don Knotts. He’s like Jack Tripper (from Three’s Company). Physical comedy, he’s the king. So I’m really just imitating him. When I portray a woman, like how they get attitudes, and how mean they are, I’m doing one of my aunts, my Aunt Sandra. I’m just acting like her, all the stuff I’ve seen her do.
Parlé: On that note, I’m a fan of All of Us, and Dirk is probably my favorite character that you’ve done so far. Out of all that you’ve done, what has been your favorite role to play?
Tony Rock: Dirk! Dirk is definitely my favorite. Dirk and Tony Rock are so closely related, like, I didn’t know where one started and the other one ended. Only difference between me and Dirk is that Dirk has been married four times, and I’ve never been married. As far as like the women, the free lifestyle, living life vicariously and freely, and fun, and just living in the moment, exactly the same. And our warped philosophies on women (laughs).
In the entertainment business, every opportunity you’re presented with isn’t the most well thought out or planned venture. The truth is, although what we call ‘show business’ is filled with fame, fortune, and glamour, it’s also full of let downs, and days that leave you unsatisfied with the work you’ve been tasked with. Something Tony Rock has done well throughout his career, and the most important thing, is remain tenacious and to continue to work hard for those who will come behind you.