Chris Rock's first HBO comedy special proved to be a breakthrough for the stand-up comic, who at the time was best known for his stint on Saturday Night Live. Filmed in front of a live audience in Washington, D.C., Bring the Pain revived Rock's then-stagnant career and made him the face of black comedy in America seemingly overnight. Opening with a montage of comedy albums by Rock's influences -- Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, and Richard Pryor are among those name-checked -- the show finds Rock in top form as he moves nimbly from topical cracks (a bit on O.J. is a highlight) to relationship jokes to biting commentary on the state of black America. The fearless set drew some controversy at the time, but despite (or perhaps because of) the furor, Rock was able to ride Bring the Pain to a more successful career, eventually landing his own series on HBO.
by Elbert Ventura synopsis