Chris Rock's comedy tour a warm-up for MTV gig

Thursday, June 26, 2003

— Chris Rock will be back as host of the MTV Video Music Awards, the cable channel announced Wednesday.

But he acknowledges that his stand-up skills are a little rusty.

So the comedian is going on a cross-country club tour to prepare for the 20th annual awards show Aug. 28 at Radio City Music Hall.

"I haven't performed in a lo-o-o-o-ng time," Rock said Wednesday.

After starring in the Emmy-winning "Chris Rock Show" on HBO in the late '90s, he's been focusing on films the past few years, including "Down to Earth," a remake of "Heaven Can Wait"; "Bad Company" with Anthony Hopkins; and this year's "Head of State," his directorial debut, in which he starred as a presidential candidate.

Rock won't announce his comedy show dates ahead of time he wouldn't even say where the tour will begin next week.

Tickets will go on sale in each city just 24 hours in advance.

Having hosted the awards show in 1997 and 1999, Rock knows that much of the comedy springs organically as the evening progresses.

"You watch people host these shows who change outfits eight times in the show. No watch the show.

"Half the time the presenters don't read what's on the cue cards and you never know when Diana Ross is going to grab Lil' Kim's (breast), and you'd hate to miss that because you're putting on something from Banana Republic."

Rock was referring to one of the more outrageous moments in Video Music Award history in 1999, when Ross fondled rapper Lil' Kim's left breast, which was covered only in a lavender pasty.