Chris Rock On Barack Obama: ‘Everybody Wanted Michael Jordan, But We Got Shaq’

Chris Rock is coming back to the big screen with Top Five in just two weeks — a project he calls an “homage to Woody Allen.” Some of the early reviews throw around a word that’s followed Chris throughout his outspoken career — edgy, a label that has often come from his confrontational statements about race and politics.

Even at 49, Rock hasn’t backed away from these topics, as evidenced by a recent interview with New York Magazine where he said Barack Obama should have done absolutely nothing when he first took office, “letting it all go to hell knowing good and well this is on them [Republicans].”

“Just let the country flatline. Let the auto industry die. Don’t bail anybody out. In sports, that’s what any new GM does. They make sure that the catastrophe is on the old management and then they clean up. They don’t try to save old management’s mistakes… Maybe Obama should have let the plane crash. You get credit for bringing somebody back from the dead. You don’t really get credit for helping a sick person by administering antibiotics.”

Chris also touched on the fact that Barack’s approval ratings have stayed stubbornly low, with many Obama voters saying they were disappointed with his second term. Rock said that much of this disenfranchisement has to do extremely high expectations for his presidency, something Chris thinks will be seen about Barack’s presidency in retrospect.

“Everybody wanted Michael Jordan, right? We got Shaq. That’s not a disappointment. You know what I mean? We got Charles Barkley. It’s still a Hall of Fame career. The [Barack] should be graded on jobs and peace, and the other stuff is debatable. Do more people have jobs, and is there more peace? I guess there’s a little more peace. Not as much peace as we’d like, but I mean, that’s kind of the gig. I don’t recall anybody leaving on an up. It’s just that kind of job.”

Aside from his assessment of Obama as a politician, Rock also discussed another all-important quality in any president: how cool Barack is.

“Kind of cool. I always say, cooler than most politicians, not as cool as actual cool people. [Obama]’s not cool like Jay Z’s cool. He’s not Eddie Murphy. But in a world of politicians…”

Although Chris’ interview swayed toward current events like Ferguson and Barack’s presidency, he also discussed his own comedic career and the constant need to be updating jokes in order to “seem a lot hipper” to younger audiences. In this discussion, he talked about two comedians who passed away this year: Robin Williams and Joan Rivers — the latter of whom he said was a master of reworking old material for a new generation.

“Great person, underrated comedian. Who the hell’s funnier than Joan Rivers? That whole reference thing: Joan updated constantly. Okay, these Liz Taylor jokes are gone, and they are now Lindsay Lohan jokes. The compliment you give of a comedian is: Who wants to follow them onstage? Nobody wanted to follow Joan Rivers, ever. Even in her 80s, nobody wanted to follow her.”

You can read more of Chris Rock statements about Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, Shaq and Joan Rivers in the full interview.