In Part I of this three-part blog I argued that Chris Rock’s routines are funny because they’re true—because they evoke evolved psychology (a thesis fleshed-out in Kuhle, 2012). I sought to persuade the reader of this by reviewing evolutionary psychological theory and evidence that underpin nine of Rock’s routines on opposite-sex friendships, mate preferences, and mate attraction tactics. In Part II I discussed Professor Rock’s theoretically sound, empirically supported, and downright hilarious riffs on sexual conflict, parenting, and infidelity. In this final installment I unpack several more of Rock’s send-ups on infidelity and on its frequent consequence, divorce. As before, the reader is warned that I include unedited clips and transcriptions of Rock’s bits that are NSFW, and that my discussion of them does not excuse or justify the behaviors Rock hilariously depicts.
In Bigger and Blacker, Rock astutely notes that men tend to over-offer sex to women, a tendency that proponents of error management theory (Haselton & Buss, 2000) might view as a means of minimizing their likelihood of missing potential mating opportunities.
It’s damn near impossible for a man to turn down sex . . . . It’s easy for women to turn down sex . . . . Y’all like, “Why can’t you turn it down? I do it all the time. Why can’t you say ‘no’? I say ‘no.’” See, it’s easy for y’all. You know why? ‘Cause every woman in here, ever since you were 13 every guy you met has been trying to fuck you. That’s right. Women are offered dick every day. Every woman in here gets offered dick at least three times a week. Three times a day, shit! That’s right, every time a man’s being nice to you, all he’s doing is offering dick. That’s all it is. “Can I get that for you? How about some dick?“ “Could I help you with that? Could I help you to some dick?” “Do you need some dick?” Nobody offers us shit. We got to fend for ourselves. We can’t believe it when we get an offer. We’re like, “Damn, this is my lucky day” (Rock, 1999: 16:45–19:27).
Rock’s strident take on sex differences in willingness to engage in casual sex is theoretically sound and empirically supported (Buss & Schmitt, 1993; Schmitt et al., 2003). In one classic study, 75% of men, but 0% of women, consented to a request for sex from a complete stranger of the opposite sex (Clark & Hatfield, 1989). Many of these willing men were already in a romantic relationship. To combat men’s wandering eyes, women engage in various strategies to minimize their partners’ likelihood of cheating. Although evidence suggests that men’s marital satisfaction is unrelated to their likelihood of committing infidelity (Buss, 2000; Glass & Wright, 1985), Rock observes that some women futilely attempt to minimize infidelity by maximizing their attractiveness:
Some women are like, “If I lost weight, he wouldn’t cheat. If I was more beautiful, he wouldn’t cheat.” Yes, he would. He would. There ain’t nothing you can do, ladies. Ya know the only thing you can do to stop your man cheating? Only thing you can do. . .is be there. Where? There. Wherever he’s thinking about fucking. That’s it. Just be right there. And even then he still might lose yo ass. “Hey, honey, look, a sale!” Let me go fuck this bitch right now . . . . The beauty don’t matter. Kobe [Bryant] cheated on his wife and Kobe’s wife is fine. Kobe’s wife is gorgeous. My God! That’s a fuckin’ sen˜orita out this motherfucker. A hot tamale out this motherfucker. Kobe’s wife is fine shit. I would trade my wife and two aunts for Kobe’s, man. I’ll throw in a cousin and my momma if I have to. “Come on, Momma, we got to close this deal” (Rock, 1994, 28:56 –30:50).
Although husbands on average pursue extramarital affairs more than wives, men are no strangers to being cheated on (Buss, 2012). Indeed, ample evidence suggests that men are keenly concerned about a woman’s sexual infidelity because of the calamitous costs of cuckoldry (Buss, Larsen, Westen, & Semmelroth, 1992). To assuage men’s concerns about being cuckolded, new mothers and their relatives frequently note a newborn’s resemblance to the putative father, a resemblance not as frequently noted by dad and his relatives (Daly & Wilson, 1982). Rock makes great use of incongruity (hats are not genetically inherited!) and of the background knowledge his audience shares with him about paternity uncertainty in this bit on cuckoldry:
Who’s the biggest liars, men or women? Men lie the most, women tell the biggest lies. Men, we lie all the time. We lie so much, it’s damn near a language. To call a man out for lying . . . . is like playing basketball with a retarded kid and calling him for double-dribble. You gotta let some shit slide . . . . You know what a man’s lie is like? A man’s lie is like, “I was at Tony’s house.” “I’m at Kenny’s house.” That’s a man’s lie. A women’s lie is like, “It’s your baby.” Oh, we’ve all heard that one. “Hey! It don’t even look like me.” “Oh he’s got your hat” (Rock, 1999, 51:54 –52:56).
Infidelity is one of the biggest predictors of divorce worldwide, followed closely by lack of economic support from husbands (Betzig, 1989). In the following two bits Rock notes that men’s failures to provide often provokes women to leave them for someone who can:
Men cannot go backward sexually; women cannot go backward in lifestyle. Can’t fucking do it . . . . Fellas, you ever been going through some hard times with your woman, you lose your job or something, and your women tries to console you, say, “ Hey, baby, don’t worry; we gonna get through this. We gonna get through this. I know we got some bills. But if we got to get rid of some of this shit, we will get rid of some of this shit.” She’s talking about you! Fellas, if you lose your job you gonna lose your woman. That’s right, she may not leave the day you lose it, but the countdown has begun” (Rock, 2008, 1:08: 00–1:09:00).
Women have their own fucking money now. And women are like, “Hey, if you don’t take me on a nice vacation, I’m a find me a cute guy, and I’m a pay for shit.” But that only lasts for like 30 days. ‘Cause women don’t like paying for shit. That’s right. Pussy costs money; dick is free. Any money you spend on dick is a bad investment. ‘Cause when it comes to women and money, I tell you right now, nothing dries up a pussy quicker than a woman reaching for her wallet. There’s something about a woman reaching for her wallet that dries up the vagina. It’s almost like the wallet is sending a signal to the pussy that this man is not worthy of getting wet for. And even later on, when you go the gynecologist he’s like, “Oh my god, you’ve been paying for shit. Another $500 you gonna be in menopause” (Rock, 2008, 1:10:57–1:12:10).
Abundant evidence suggests that women allocate sexual access toward men willing and able to invest in them (Buss, 2003). Rock shines a comic light on this exchange of resources with this absurd take on men’s provisioning of resources in exchange for sexual access after a relationship has dissolved:
You know what else, O.J. [Simpson] was paying $25,000 a month in alimony. Twenty-five thousand dollars! And $4,000 a month for food. For food! What the fuck was she eating for four grand a month? I guess she’s like, “I gotta get some extra cheese on my Whopper. Y’all women, you got it good, boy. When it’s time to get a divorce, women got it made. You go to court, you start talking that shit, “Your Honor, I’m used to this. I’m used to that. I’m accustomed to this.” Yo, what the fuck is accustomed? What that got to do with shit, eh? You go to a restaurant, you’re accustomed to eating. You leave, you ain’t eating no more. They don’t owe you a steak. Now women go to court, talk that shit, “Your Honor, I’m used to this, I’m used to that. I want some money. Give me some money.” And they get the money. What about what the man’s used to? What about what the man’s accustomed to? Now that might not be money, but during the course of the relationship, a man grows accustomed to a few things. And I would love to see a man go to court and say, “Your Honor, check this out: Now, I’m accustomed to fucking her four times a week. Now I feel like I should be able to fuck her at least twice a week. And then she can have the alimony, but I want some pussy payments” (Rock, 1996, 21:37–23:05).
Rock Brings the Funny Because He Brings the Truth
From his HBO debut Big Ass Jokes in 1994 to his 2008 Emmy Award winning Kill the Messenger, Honorary Professor of Evolutionary Psychology Chris Rock always brought the funny because he always brought the truth. A truth his audience shared because they, like he, inherited millions of years of evolved wisdom from ancestors long forgotten. Rock is able to connect with audiences around the globe because much of his humor taps into universal desires and fears that have sustained Homo sapiens for thousands of generations. Although Rock dedicates much of his stand-up to riffs on race, class, and politics, he closes each of his five HBO specials with evolution-grounded relationship humor. He seems to know that this, his best material, has broad appeal that reaches back through the eons and will bring his audience back in the future. I know it will me.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of Psychology Today and the University of Scranton, or my friends, family, probation officer, gut bacteria, darkest thoughts, and personal mohel.
Barry X. Kuhle, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Scranton.