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Nite Out

No chip off another Rock

Tony Rock, brother of comedian Chris Rock, has a comic style all his own, so just skip most of the comparisons.

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 20, 2003

As the younger brother of one of this country's most celebrated comics, Tony Rock is under no illusion about how he's looked at in show-biz circles.

He is known best as "Chris Rock's brother."

"I'm not stupid," Tony says. "Comedy club owners sell tickets because I'm Chris Rock's brother. I know people are coming to the show and saying, 'How much does he look like Chris? How much does he sound like Chris?' "

All that aside, Tony is very much his own person and comic.

No, he doesn't sound like his brother, nor does he share his brother's interest in topical or political comedy. But he is like his brother in some ways: He's smart and has a deep appreciation for his craft.

Despite being on the comedy circuit for almost five years, Rock says he still considers himself a newcomer.

"This is something I've wanted to do. My brother got me started by watching Eddie Murphy tapes together. He'd always stop the tape and say, 'See how he did this', or talk about how he worked the crowd. So I was bred to be a comic," he says.

"It made it easier starting out because I had a grasp of the mechanics, but it didn't help when I got onstage, because the only way to learn is to be onstage."

Rock hasn't landed anything big, but he is on producers' radar screens. He has made pilots for ABC and MTV and worked with Comedy Central. He also is working the club circuit and is a regular at the Comic Strip in New York, where his brother got started.

Though his family ties have helped get his name on the marquee, Rock knows his name is only as good as the show he gives an audience.

"I'm not afforded the luxury of failing the way other comics are," he says. "For me, the excuse can never be 'It was a tough crowd' or that it was hot, or a fight broke out."


Tony Rock appears at 8 tonight, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7 and 9 p.m. Sunday at the Tampa Improv, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. Tickets are $12 to $16, depending on the show time. For reservations, call (813) 864-4000.

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