Netflix Exec Opens Up About Choosing Chris Rock For Its Milestone Upcoming Live Special

Chris Rock performs on his Netflix special Tamborine.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix has been a leader in the streaming content game for a while now and has always been interested in finding different ways to expand its catalogue of content. Its comedy specials have certainly caught on, with many comedians gaining a following through hour-long, stand-up fare on the streaming platform. Now, the company is experimenting with the capabilities of its service as well as the comedy special format by premiering its first live show with comedian Chris Rock. An exec recently opened up about the production and why Rock was specifically chosen for it. 

Netflix EMEA boss Larry Tanz shared some keen thoughts while talking about why the company was interested in expanding into live entertainment and using Chris Rock as the talent for the experiment. Clearly Rock was one of the favorite options for the live show, and it would seem that the “Netflix Is a Joke” festival was a big reason for this endeavor. Tanz explained:

It’s our first attempt at live. And who better to do it with than Chris Rock? And it’s also coming off the back of ‘Netflix Is a Joke,’ which is this awesome live comedy festival that we ran in LA. Fluffy Yglesias sold out Dodger Stadium, it’s incredible. So Chris Rock will be live, we’ll learn a lot from it, I think, we’ll then have a live capability up and running. And then I think we can apply live to a lot of different things.

The businessman also explained that he and his colleagues saw this live comedy show as a gateway into other potential live opportunities, especially within the reality television sphere. However, a lot seems to be riding on how the Chris Rock show goes over with viewers. During his interview with Variety, Tanz went on to say:

There are a lot of creative ideas that incorporate live. So for example, you could do a reunion show at the end of a Too Hot to Handle season, or you could do a certain live event. And so there are a lot of great creative ideas. So I think once we have it up and running, and we see how our audience reacts to Chris Rock, which I think will be really favorably then we can get into what comes next.

The entertainment entity isn’t the only streamer that's sought to expand the capabilities of live entertainment. Hulu has always had a live television component, and Peacock even allows for Saturday Night Live to be streamed live as well. However, Netflix is certainly looking to uniquely approach this sphere to separate itself from other services. The powers that be have been looking for new ways to revitalize the platform, especially in the wake of Netflix's subscriber loss.

While the executive is clearly excited about the live comedy show for the platform, it may be a creative risk. The corporation was marred by controversy over how it handled Dave Chappelle’s controversial stand-up special. In addition, Chris Rock’s joke at this year's Oscars, which resulted in Will Smith's infamous slap, remains a topic of discussion. A live special removes the possibility of censors and editing, so the company is putting a lot of faith in Rock for its first attempt at live streaming. 

Still, Chris Rock has a positive relationship with the streaming service, so they're likely on the same page about everything. His last special, Tamborine, was extremely popular, and he recently participated in a Bob Saget tribute for the platform as well. The company clearly has confidence in their choice per Tanz’s comments, so it’s just up to Rock to deliver. 

You can catch Tamborine -- as well as its extended cut, Total Blackout -- right now using a Netflix subscription.

Caroline Young

Writer, podcaster, CinemaBlend contributor, film and television nerd, enthusiastic person. Hoping to bring undying passion for storytelling to CinemaBlend.