Chris Rock, the Emmy-winning comedian and two-time Oscars host, has been talking about race and relationships since he began doing standup in the 1980s. Those who haven’t had seen him onstage will soon be able to read his thoughts on these perennially thorny issues in “My First Black Boyfriend,” a collection of his essays set for publication in fall 2020.
“A lot of celebrities write books, and they don’t always have something to say. I think Chris Rock has something to say,” said Deb Futter, the senior vice president and co-publisher of Celadon, which is publishing the book. The essays, she added, “point out things that maybe need to be pointed out in our crazy world.”
Celadon, a division of Macmillan, declined to make Rock available for an interview.
During his 2017 “Total Blackout Tour,” the comedian was candid about his recent divorce and the role he played in the breakdown of his marriage. “At times, Mr. Rock sounded like a man confessing his sins, turning vulnerability into his latest provocation,” Jason Zinoman wrote in his review of a performance in Durham, N.C.
Rock, 54, joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 1990 and appeared in the final season of “In Living Color” as a special guest star. His first HBO special aired in 1994, followed by “Bring the Pain” in 1996, for which he won two Emmy Awards. He has produced and directed both TV (“The Rundown With Robin Thede,” “Everybody Hates Chris”) and film (“Top Five,” “I Think I Love My Wife”) and will appear in the Eddie Murphy movie, “Dolemite Is My Name,” next month.
His first book, “Rock This!,” came out in 1997 and was a New York Times best seller. Rock wrote about several of his favorite topics at the time, including President Bill Clinton and the O.J. Simpson saga, as well as racial dynamics in the United States and the differences he sees between men and women.
The news of Rock’s collection comes at a time of heated debates over what lines comedians can and can’t cross. Last week, Shane Gillis, a newly announced “S.N.L.” cast member, was criticized for making racist comments directed at Chinese people and using a racial slur on a podcast. Gillis responded on Twitter, saying: “I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss.” On Monday, “S.N.L.” said he wouldn’t be joining the show.
In January, after the comedian Kevin Hart withdrew from hosting the Academy Awards after criticism of his homophobic tweets, Rock said he wouldn’t be taking the job on again. According to Variety and other outlets, while presenting at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Rock referred to the current state of comedy and said: “If it was five years ago, I could say something really offensive and funny right now, but I can’t do that anymore.”
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