A funny thing: Jordan Rock brings fresh comedy to the family name

Younger sibling Jordan Rock takes to the comedy trail that was blazed by his brother Chris. He performs at PVCC on Saturday. Publicity photo Younger sibling Jordan Rock takes to the comedy trail that was blazed by his brother Chris. He performs at PVCC on Saturday. Publicity photo

If you’ve never heard of Jordan Rock, who’ll take the stage at Piedmont Virginia Community College on February 28, you can be forgiven. He’s never played Charlottesville, and his Web presence isn’t exactly on the level of an “Ultimate Split.” Come to think of it, his Web presence isn’t really on the level of an actual rock, which has two pretty sweet Wikipedia entries attached to its search returns: 1) it’s music and 2) you know, the stuff Earth is made of.

Rock’s star is rising, though, as the 24-year-old South Carolina native has now been working through the ranks of the stand-up comedy circuit for seven years. It may not be long until he’s on the same Internet stardom level as, say, that guy on The Weather Channel who freaks out about thundersnow.

By this time in our discussion, you might have figured out who Jordan Rock is. Indeed he’s the younger, far younger, brother of Chris Rock, who does come up pretty quick on a Web search.

What you may be asking yourself right about now is: If Jordan Rock has been at it for almost a decade, and he has the advantage of being Chris Rock’s brother, why hasn’t he made it yet?

Good question, but the fact is he’s pretty funny. Case in point: his “Incognegro” bit on the difference between white people weed and black people weed. White people weed comes in glass jars and shit, Rock says. Black people weed? He once bought some in a napkin that smelled like barbecue sauce.

I hear your next objection. Didn’t his brother practically invent “black people versus white people humor?” Good point, but Rock doesn’t seem to use that source of material as a crutch. Most of his bits are infused with pop culture, music and social media references. He riffs on Facebook, Kim Kardashian and his iPhone— “I have a 5 now, and I think they make them so they stop working when a new one comes out,” he said during a recent phone interview.

“You got to live it to write it,” Rock said. “Sometimes I used to try to write about anything and force myself to write. Once I started living life, it got easier to write new material.”

Like most comic bits, Rock’s jokes have evolved over time. He’ll write down pieces of material here and there and come back to them after months or even years to find something new and, hopefully, more humorous to say about them.

Though it doesn’t always work that way. Rock has done his share of bombing over the years. But he said he tries not to let it get to him, taking a “that’s just the way comedy goes” attitude.

“Sometimes it’s rhythm, sometimes crowds just don’t hit the same way,” he said. “It’s interesting because you might watch a set and be like, ‘That was a good set,’ but it’s comedy. You tell jokes, and they laugh or they don’t.”

Most of all, Rock’s bits have evolved because he spends so much time field-testing them. For the past year, he’s jumped headlong into stand-up, doing shows almost every night and trying out new material three or four times a week.

“I’ve been doing this for so long, since I was 17,” Rock said. “Now it is just about taking it more serious.”

Where does his newfound work ethic come from? He credits big bro for one of the most important pieces of advice he’s gotten about being in the comedy game.

“When I started doing comedy, Chris said, ‘You are going to have to work. You can’t be the Lil Wayne of comedy,’” he said. “Probably three years after that, I figured out what he meant. Lil Wayne doesn’t rap, he just freestyles. In comedy, you got to rap.”

Chris Rock turned 50 on February 7. That fact should make you realize two things. One, you’re old. And two, he’s more than twice as old as his youngest brother. When Jordan Rock was born in 1991, his older brother was already a regular cast member on “Saturday Night Live.”

Still, the younger Rock said his relationship with one of the world’s greatest comedy icons has always been standard big brother-little brother fare.

“He’s been a big brother. I don’t see it any other way,” Rock said. “He’s there for advice. He’ll take me out and talk to me. It’s hard to explain the dynamics of the relationship, but he and my other older brothers looked out for me and raised me. I like my brothers being that much older than me. I could really look up to all of them.”

Rock said he typically tries his new material only on weekdays and reserves his best stuff—what he calls “the hits”—for Fridays and Saturdays. Charlottesville gets the young comic on a Saturday night. We’ll see how well he sings the hits.

Jordan Rock takes the stage at PVCC on Saturday, February 28.

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