The following interview appeared in the March 20, 2006 issue of TV Guide Magazine


The Almost True Story of 'Everybody Hates Chris'

Laughs more important than accuracy, creator Chris Rock says

Rick Porter

LOS ANGELES -- As Chris Rock was watching episodes of his show "Everybody Hates Chris" Thursday night at the Museum of Television & Radio's Paley Festival, he was making note of the events in the show that really happened to him.

"It was weird," he later told the crowd. "I was watching and going, 'Yep, that happened. I really did eat the big piece of chicken'" -- a reference to a scene in the pilot in which the 13-year-old Chris (Tyler James Williams) eats the dinner intended for his father (Terry Crews).

"A lot of this year is my life," Rock says. "As it goes on, it will be less my life."

"Everybody Hates Chris" is a good bet to go on past this season, when its current network, UPN, merges with The WB to form The CW. The show, nominated for a Golden Globe for best TV comedy earlier this year, is the most-watched comedy on either network and has drawn steady critical praise.

What it's not, though, is 100 percent accurate to Rock's own Brooklyn childhood (he has more siblings, for one thing). Then again, the comedian and co-creator Ali LeRoi weren't out to make a historical document.

"When I get out there, it doesn't even really matter that it happened to me," Rock says. "It matters that it's funny."

And funny, the show's cast says, is universal. Although the family in "Chris" is black, the stories the show tells have far less to do with race than they do with the struggles of awkward teenagers and working-class families. Tichina Arnold, who plays Chris' mom Rochelle, says people from all walks of life have complimented her on her work.

"I get Italian women, Jewish women coming up to me," Arnold says. Then she switches to a full Noo Yawk accent: "They all say, 'Oh my gawd, my mother tawked exactly like you do.'

"No one really knows how your parents raised you inside your house," she adds. "We're showing some of that."

Prior to screening the "Everybody Hates Chris" episodes, the museum showed a clip of Rock doing stand-up on "Showtime at the Apollo" in 1989. That, LeRoi says, is something viewers of the show won't ever see.

"The minute he walks into a comedy club, the show's over, because that's the point where he stops being everyone," LeRoi says. "When he starts to do the thing that made him famous ... you can just watch the HBO special to see how it turned out."


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