The Chris Rock Show aired on HBO from 1997 to 2000, but it’s been notably absent from HBO Max — until now. As Variety reports, the first two seasons of the late-night talk show are now available for streaming.
Produced by Chris Rock, Louis C.K., and Wanda Sykes, the show ran for five seasons total and would go on to win an Emmy for writing in 1999. But Season 1 (seven episodes) and Season 2 (12 episodes) are where Rock and crew perfected the formula. The beginning was a little bumpy; the first episode featured Prince performing “Emancipation”, but for unexplained reasons it was nixed from the home-video release and will not be appearing on the streamer.
Even so, there’s no shortage of high-watt star power. The first two seasons included guest appearances from Mary J. Blige, George Carlin, Johnnie Cochran, Whoopi Goldberg, Arsenio Hall, Jesse Jackson, Wyclef Jean, LL Cool J, Tracy Morgan, Conan O’Brien, Rev. Al Sharpton, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Usher. Besides that, musical direction came from the legendary Grandmaster Flash.
Check out a sketch from the show below, in which Rock quips about the audition process, saying, “When I first heard that HBO was looking for somebody to host The Chris Rock Show, I thought to myself, ‘Yeah, I got a shot.'”
Rock has by no means left comedy behind, and his 2018 Netflix special Tamborine just got an “extended cut” re-release earlier this year. But he’s also expanded his actor’s arsenal, and in May he starred in the horror blockbuster Spiral: From the Book of Saw.