Chris Rock's TV debut on Joan Rivers still holds up

Stand-up comedy will always have a special place in my heart. In my mind, it's the only proving ground that matters when it comes to funny. Unlike improv, where the audience is an active participant that will overlook rough transitions, stand-up audiences are vicious and enjoy preying on a weak comedian. A comic has to walk a fine line between being an entertainer and a drill sergeant to keep the crowd at a comedy show in check. 

Some comics, like Steven Wright and Mitch Hedberg, manage the dichotomy with a little more finesse than others, whereas others prowl the stage from end to end in a subtle act of asserting dominance. Few comics are as masterful at walking the stage as Chris Rock. As anyone that's watched Showtime at the Apollo can attest, Black audiences can be some of the most challenging crowds to please. Chris Rock didn't just dominate the Black rooms; he became one of the most celebrated Black comedians of all time. You can watch a young Chris Rock employing an early version of his power walk on the Joan Rivers Late Show in the video above.