The comedians were all together for an HBO special called Talking Funny. One segment finds C.K., Gervais, Rock and Jerry Seinfeld sitting together to discuss the craft of writing and performing comedy. In the course of their discussion, Rock joked that C.K. was "the blackest white guy" he had ever met.
"And all the negative things we think about black people, this f—er," he said, slapping C.K.'s knee.
"You're saying I'm a n—?" C.K. said.
"Yes!" Rock said, as all four comics laughed. "The n—est f—ing white man I have ever..."
The discussion carried on in this way, with C.K. making liberal use of the N-word to the shock and delight of the others on set. He suggested that the biggest distinction between himself and Rock versus Seinfeld and Gervais is that the latter pair did not use the "N" word on stage. However, in the course of laughing about it, Gervais said the word himself on the special.
"You and me say n— in private, but these two guys don't," C.K. joked to Gervais.
The special went on in a similarly inflammatory fashion. C.K. used homophobic slurs, Gervais joked about political correctness and all four showed disdain for criticism.
All that came back to bite them in 2018, when a more discerning audience revisited the clip on social media. Jemele Hill, a reporter for The Atlantic, posted the snippet on Twitter on Saturday where it sparked a whole new debate and fresh outrage at C.K.
"I know black folks who are completely comfortable with white people saying the N-word in their presence," Hill wrote. "Have had to tell a few white folks that I'm not that black person. Still it says something the only person who was uncomfortable was Seinfeld."
Chris Rock outta all people. Hmmm... who knew this black man was ready to find the humour of a white man using the n word multiple times in this video on camera AND admitting using it a lot more off camera? All I got left to say is Louis Ck...Kmft.🤦🏾♀️ pic.twitter.com/Wr1V6gqFWj— anjzzxo (@anjzzxo) December 23, 2018
For many people, Rock was also at fault for apparently condoning the language. C.K. has taken a lot of flack in the last year for his language on stage and his many allegations of sexual assault and harassment, so most people expected little redemption from him. However, some argued that Rock's acceptance of the jokes was harmful to the whole community.0comments
"Chris Rock outta all people," one person mused. "Hmmm... who knew this black man was ready to find the humour of a white man using the N-word multiple times in this video on camera AND admitting using it a lot more off camera? All I got left to say is Louis C.K... Kmft."
Talking Funny is streaming in its entirety on HBO Go, HBO Now and YouTube.