DETAILS: In your latest film, 2 Days in New York, you talk to a cardboard cutout of Barack Obama. Got any election-year thoughts for the real president?
Chris Rock: I mean, if I want to talk to him, I can call him. Dude, being the first black anything sucks. But the country was in shambles, and he's cleaning it up. If you properly clean a room, it gets dirtier before it gets cleaner. Ever come back to your hotel room before the maids are finished? My God! Republicans are complaining. Romney's complaining. But Romney's rich. He doesn't know shit about cleaning.
DETAILS: Is it too soon to make George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin jokes?
Chris Rock: There's no joke there, unfortunately. It's sad. When you get old, it's like, "Damn it, I've seen this." I'm from Bed-Stuy. I marched for Yusuf Hawkins, you know? I don't totally agree with Bill Cosby. He said it wasn't racial, it's a gun issue. Well, it's a gun-racial issue. You know what makes you approach a six-foot-three black guy in the middle of the night? A gun. Paul Blart's not supposed to have a gun.
DETAILS: You're working on a documentary called Credit Is the Devil. Why that topic?
Chris Rock: Because credit is the devil. Dude, I'm rich—and I live in fucking Jersey. I had two cars in 1996, and I got two cars now. I live way below my means.
DETAILS: Lorne Michaels once said to you, "Everyone loses their first money. And if you're talented, you'll make more." Was that true in your case?
Chris Rock: Yeah. My first year on SNL, I made $90,000 dollars. And I bought a red Corvette for $45,000 dollars. I'm thinking, "I've got 45 grand left!" Taxes didn't even come into my equation. At the end of the first year of making 90 grand I was 25, 30 in the hole. We live in this baller, spend-money culture. But they never show you the outskirts of Vegas or Atlantic City. That's what most of the country is becoming.
DETAILS: Everybody Hates Chris was based on your childhood. Were you bullied?
Chris Rock: Yeah. I was bused to a school in Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn in 1972. I was one of the first black kids in the history of the school. There were parents with signs: nigger go home. For all intents and purposes, the United States had been practicing apartheid until '68. I was spit on every day. I had water balloons with piss thrown at me. I was fucking Carrie.
DETAILS: Is that where the comedy comes from?
Chris Rock: No, other people in my family are funny. I'm not pro-bullying. But people who are bullied tend to make shit happen. Is there a DreamWorks without bullies? No. Is there an Apple without bullies? No.
DETAILS: Before playing a recovering crack addict in New Jack City, you lived through the dawn of crack cocaine in Bed-Stuy. How did you keep from going down that path?
Chris Rock: I never did crack, but my friends did. It was the craziest shit. This was the dawn of the VCR. People were filming everything. It was not a weird thing for a friend to put on a videotape of some girl who lived next door, like, blowing eight guys for crack. One summer, me and a friend had a plan to sell crack. It was no different than getting a paper route or my aunt who sold Avon.
DETAILS: What happened to the plan?
Chris Rock: My friend got hooked.
DETAILS: That's sad. What did you think when you heard about Whitney Houston's death?
Chris Rock: I'd known Whitney a little bit. She's not dead because she was an addict. She's dead because she was an addict who kept getting money. Chris Farley's dead because he was an addict with 50 grand in his pocket.
DETAILS: Do you miss Farley?
Chris Rock: All the time.
DETAILS: You got your start doing stand-up at clubs like Catch a Rising Star in Manhattan, alongside Jerry Seinfeld, Andrew Dice Clay, and Colin Quinn. What do you remember about those nights?
Chris Rock: We'd have these superhero arguments, "Who's better: Cosby, Pryor, or Carlin?" That was it. How do you get close to those guys?
DETAILS: Do you think about turning 50?
Chris Rock: A little bit. It's like real estate: You look at comps. Okay, how funny was this person at 50? Who was funny at 50? What were they doing? How can I emulate their lives?
DETAILS: Your buddy Louis C.K. recently sold his stand-up special online for $5, bypassing cable TV entirely. Is that the future of comedy?
Chris Rock: Every comedian has thought about it. If there's a danger here, it's that you're only famous to your fans. I don't own a Britney Spears record, but I know who Britney Spears is—so there's a chance she'll make money off of me someday.
DETAILS: You're 47 now, and you haven't toured since 2008. If you go back out on the road, what will your act be like?
Chris Rock: I don't know what I'm going to talk about. Years ago, I saw Kill Bill and said to Tarantino, "Dude, why do you wait so long?" He's like, "This fucking masterpiece shit takes time!" I like that it's an event. I like the Rolling Stones model of making shit an event. I learned that from Eddie Murphy.
DETAILS: Do you think Murphy will ever tour again?
Chris Rock: Barring financial ruin, I don't think so. I think we'll see a Richard Pryor hologram on tour before we see Eddie Murphy.
DETAILS: Does it bum you out to see him in less-than-successful films?
Chris Rock: We all do stuff that doesn't work. It bums me out when I'm at his house and he's making a bunch of people laugh and it's so effortless. His Obama impression? Amazing.
DETAILS: You once said in your act, "If you've never contemplated murder, you've never been in love." Do you still believe that?
Chris Rock: Yeah, when somebody is dead, who is the first person the cops look at? They don't go, "Oh boy, what was her uncle doing?"
DETAILS: You were in What to Expect When You're Expecting this summer. Is there a romantic comedy that encapsulates your own marriage?
Chris Rock: I've been married 15 years. I'd like to be in a Spike Jonze movie. But I live in a Nancy Meyers movie.
DETAILS: What's the secret to making a marriage work?
Chris Rock: I don't know any more than anybody else. You've just gotta want to be there.