Chris Rock

For the English comedian, see Crissy Rock.

Chris Rock

Rock at the 2012 premiere of
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Birth name Christopher Julius Rock III
Born (1965-02-07) February 7, 1965
Andrews, South Carolina, United States
Years active 1984–present
Genres Black comedy, musical comedy, observational comedy, political satire
Subject(s) African-American culture, current events, human sexuality, marriage, politics, popular culture, race relations, racism
Influences Bill Cosby, Redd Foxx, Dick Gregory, Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Pigmeat Markham, Woody Allen, Eddie Murphy,[1] Sam Kinison, George Carlin, Mort Sahl,[2] Rodney Dangerfield,[3]
Influenced Dave Chappelle,[2] Christian Finnegan,[4] George Lopez
Spouse Malaak Compton-Rock (1996–2014, divorce filed)
Relative(s) Tony Rock (brother)

Christopher Julius Rock III (born February 7, 1965)[5][6] is an American comedian, actor, writer, producer, and director.

After working as a standup comic and appearing in small film roles, Rock came to wider prominence as a cast member of Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s. He went on to more prominent film appearances, with starring roles in Down to Earth (2001), Head of State (2003), the Madagascar film series (2005–2012), Grown Ups (2010), its sequel Grown Ups 2 (2013), Top Five (2014), and a series of acclaimed comedy specials for HBO. He developed, wrote, and narrated the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris (2005–2009). Rock hosted the 77th Academy Awards in 2005 and the 88th in 2016. He has won four Emmy Awards and three Grammy Awards.

He was voted the fifth-greatest stand-up comedian in a poll conducted by Comedy Central. He was also voted in the United Kingdom as the ninth-greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups in 2007, and again in the updated 2010 list as the eighth-greatest stand-up comic.

Early life and education

Rock was born in Andrews, South Carolina. Shortly after his birth, his parents moved to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. A few years later, they relocated and settled in the working-class area of Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.[7] His mother, Rosalie (née Tingman), was a teacher and social worker for the mentally handicapped; his father, Christopher Julius Rock II, was a truck driver and newspaper deliveryman.[8] Julius died in 1988 after ulcer surgery.[5] Chris's younger brothers, Tony, Kenny,[9] and Jordan,[10] are also in the entertainment business. His older half-brother, Charles, died in 2006 after a long struggle with alcoholism.[11][12] Rock has said that he was influenced by the performing style of his paternal grandfather, Allen Rock, a preacher.

Rock was bused to schools in predominately white neighborhoods of Brooklyn, where he endured bullying and beatings from white students.[13][14][15] As he got older, the bullying became worse and Rock’s parents pulled him out of James Madison High School.[15] He decided to drop out of high school altogether, but he later earned a GED. Rock then worked menial jobs at various fast-food restaurants.[13][14]


Rock began doing stand-up comedy in 1984 in New York City's Catch a Rising Star.[13] He slowly rose up the ranks of the comedy circuit in addition to earning bit roles in the film I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and the TV series Miami Vice. Upon seeing his act at a nightclub, Eddie Murphy befriended and mentored the aspiring comic. Murphy gave Rock his first film role in Beverly Hills Cop II.

Saturday Night Live

Rock became a cast member of the popular sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live in 1990. He and other new cast members Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and David Spade became known as the Bad Boys of SNL.[9][16][17] In 1991, he released his first comedy album, Born Suspect and won acclaim for his role as a crack addict in the film New Jack City. His tenure on SNL gave Rock national exposure.

Standup success

With plans to leave Saturday Night Live after the 1992-93 season, Rock was effectively "fired" from the show.[18][19] Beginning that fall, he appeared in six episodes of the predominantly African-American sketch show In Living Color as a special guest star.[20] The show was canceled a month after he arrived.[18] Rock then wrote and starred in the low-budget comedy CB4, which made $18 million against its budget of $6 million.[21]

Rock starred in his first HBO comedy special in 1994 titled Big Ass Jokes. His second special, 1996’s Bring the Pain, made Rock one of the most acclaimed and commercially successful comedians in the industry.[22][23] Rock won two Emmy Awards for the special and gained large critical acclaim.[24] The most well-known and controversial piece of the special was "Niggas vs. Black People".[24] Adding to his popularity was his much-publicized role as a commentator for Comedy Central's Politically Incorrect during the 1996 Presidential elections,[22] for which he earned another Emmy nomination.[25] Rock also was the voice for the "Lil Penny" puppet who was the alter ego to basketball star Penny Hardaway in a series of Nike shoe commercials from 1994–1998,[22] and hosted the '97 MTV Video Music Awards.

Rock later had two more HBO comedy specials: Bigger & Blacker in 1999, and Never Scared in 2004. Articles relating to both specials called Rock “the funniest man in America” in Time[26] and Entertainment Weekly.[2] HBO also aired his talk show, The Chris Rock Show, which gained critical acclaim for Rock's interviews with celebrities and politicians. The show won an Emmy for writing. His television work has won him a total of three Emmy Awards and 15 nominations. By the end of the decade, Rock was established as one of the preeminent stand-up comedians and comic minds of his generation.

During this time, Rock also translated his comedy into print form in the book Rock This! and released the Grammy Award-winning comedy albums, Roll with the New, Bigger & Blacker and Never Scared.

Rock's fifth HBO special, Kill the Messenger, premiered on September 27, 2008, and won him another Emmy for outstanding writing for a variety or music program.[27]

Film star

Rock at the Israeli premiere of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, on November 22, 2008.

It was not until the success of his stand-up act in the late 1990s that Rock began receiving major parts in films. Though he started off with supporting roles in films such as Dogma, Beverly Hills Ninja, Lethal Weapon 4, and Nurse Betty, he went on to star in films like The Longest Yard, Bad Company, and Down to Earth. Some of his 2010s film appearances include Death at a Funeral, Grown Ups, and 2 Days in New York.

Rock has also increasingly worked behind the camera, both as a writer and director of Head of State and I Think I Love My Wife (both in which he played the lead role). Additionally, he has done voice work for the popular Madagascar animated film franchise.

Following the release of his first documentary, 2009's Good Hair, Rock is working on a documentary about debt called Credit Is the Devil.[28]

Television producer

In the fall of 2005, the UPN television network premiered a comedy series called Everybody Hates Chris, loosely based on Rock's school days, of which he is the executive producer and narrator. The show has garnered both critical and ratings success.[29] The series was nominated for a 2006 Golden Globe for Best TV Series (Musical or Comedy), a 2006 People's Choice Award for Favorite New Television Comedy, and two 2006 Emmy Awards for costuming and cinematography. He produced the series Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, which premiered in August 2012.

Academy Awards

In early 2005, Rock hosted the 77th Academy Awards ceremony. The decision to have Rock host the awards was seen by some as a chance to bring an "edge" to the ceremony, and to make it more relevant or appealing to younger audiences. Jokingly, Rock opened by saying "Welcome to the 77th and LAST Academy Awards!" During one segment Rock asked, "Who is this guy?" in reference to actor Jude Law seemingly appearing in every movie Rock had seen that year and implied Law was a low-rent Tom Cruise (he made a joke about filmmakers rushing production when unable to get the actors they want: "If you want Tom Cruise and all you can get is Jude Law, wait [to make the film]!"). Subsequently, a defensive Sean Penn took the stage to present and said, "In answer to our host's question, Jude Law is one of our finest young actors." (At the time, Penn and Law were shooting All the King's Men.) Law was not the only actor that Rock poked fun at that evening, however—he turned the joke on himself at one point, saying, "If you want Denzel [Washington] and all you can get is me, wait!" Older Oscar officials were reportedly displeased with Rock's performance, which did not elevate ratings for the ceremony.[30] Rock was also criticized for referring to the Oscars as "idiotic", and asserting that heterosexual men do not watch them, in an interview prior to Oscar night.[31][32]

On October 21, 2015 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Rock would host the 88th Academy Awards.[33] When the subsequent acting nominations turned out to be white people at the expense of any minority, Rock was called upon to join a boycott of the ceremony. However, Rock decided to decline stating at the ceremony that it would have accomplished little since the show would have proceeded anyway with himself simply replaced.[34] Instead, Rock decide to make his concerns about the lack of diversity in AMPAS a source of material for the show, with pointed ridicule at AMPAS throughout the ceremony and its apparent racial bias beginning with his opening monologue and subsequent recorded sketches until he closed with the ceremony with "Black Lives Matter."[35]

Music videos

Rock's first music video was for his song "Your Mother's Got a Big Head" from his album Born Suspect. Rock also made videos for his songs "Champagne" from Roll With the New and "No Sex (In the Champagne Room)" from Bigger & Blacker.

He directed and appeared in the music video for the Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Hump de Bump", and has simply appeared in several videos, including the Big Daddy Kane music video "Smooth Operator" as a guy getting his hair cut, one of the many celebrities seen lip-synching in Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down", and a cameo in Madonna's "Bitch I'm Madonna".

Stage plays

In 2011, Rock appeared on Broadway in Stephen Adly Guirgis' play The Motherfucker with the Hat[36] with Bobby Cannavale and Annabella Sciorra.[36] Rock was nominated for a Drama League Award. In an interview with Vibe Magazine, Rock stated that he chose to do Broadway because he wanted more people to see him "really act. Sometimes when you do comedy, that can be a little formulaic, and it's hard for really good directors to see that you can act." [37]

Comedic style and views

Rock's subject matter typically involves family, politics, romance, music, class relationships, and race relations in the United States. Though not strictly autobiographical, much of his comic standpoint seem rooted in his teenage experience; his strict parents, concerned about the inadequacies of the local school system, arranged to have the adolescent Rock bused to a nearly all-white high school in Bensonhurst (an Italian-ethnic neighborhood of Brooklyn known at the time for poor race relations). In his memoir Rock This, the comedian recalls, "My parents assumed I'd get a better education in a better neighborhood. What I actually got was a worse education in a worse neighborhood. And a whole bunch of ass-whippings."[38]

The comedian has also expressed discomfort with the notion that success in standup comedy—or, indeed, in any aspect of the entertainment industry—should oblige him to serve as a role model. In this position, he finds himself directly at odds with one of his comic idols, Bill Cosby. Cosby has reprimanded Rock both explicitly—for his famous/notorious Niggas vs. Black People track—and implicitly, for heavy use of the word "nigger."[39] Rock has not wavered from a position explored in his 1996 Roll With The New show, and reiterated in his 1997 memoir: "Why does the public expect entertainers to behave better than everybody else? It's ridiculous...Of course, this is just for black entertainers. You don't see anyone telling Jerry Seinfeld he's a good role model. Because everyone expects whites to behave themselves...Nowadays, you've got to be an entertainer and a leader. It's too much."[40] Often the subject of tabloids, when asked about paparazzi and the other negative aspects of fame, Rock says he accepts the bad with the good: "You can't be happy that fire cooks your food and be mad it burns your fingertips."[41]

At the London Live Earth concert on July 7, 2007, which was broadcast live on the BBC, before introducing the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rock called the crowd "motherfuckers" and "shit" after a brief sigh when he said he was joking. Due to the broadcast being at 5:45 pm Rock was immediately cut off, and the BBC made several apologies for his use of the word "motherfucker."[42]

Chris Rock has been an avid fan of the New York Mets baseball team since childhood. He famously complained that his team "had no money" in a comedic rant during a 2011 interview with David Letterman.[43]

Personal life

Rock married Malaak Compton-Rock on November 23, 1996.[44] Compton-Rock is the founder and executive director of StyleWorks, a non-profit, full-service salon that provides free services for women leaving welfare and entering the workforce.[44] The couple lived in Alpine, New Jersey[45][46] with their two daughters, Lola Simone (born 2002) and Zahra Savannah (born 2004).[5] In December 2014, Rock announced that he had filed for divorce from Compton-Rock.[47] The divorce was finalized on August 22, 2016.[48]

In 2008, Rock's family history was profiled on the PBS series African American Lives 2. A DNA test showed that he is descended from the Udeme people (Ouldémé) of northern Cameroon.[49] Rock's great-great-grandfather, Julius Caesar Tingman, was a slave for 21 years before serving as part of the United States Colored Troops until 1866; Tingman fought in the American Civil War. During the 1940s, Rock's paternal grandfather moved from South Carolina to New York City to become a taxicab driver and preacher.[50]

Rock is a vocal critic of racial profiling and often speaks of the "everyday racism" he feels he experiences, despite being famous.[51][52] In a 2013 episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld, Rock and Seinfeld are pulled over by the police for speeding. In the episode Rock admits to Seinfeld that "If you weren't here, I'd be scared. Yeah, I'm famous – still black."[53] In 2015, Rock was pulled over three times in the first three months of the year. Each time Rock posted a selfie of the incident, so far without further comment as to the reason for the stops.[54]



Year Title Role Notes
1985 Krush Groove Person Standing Next to Phone During Fight in Club uncredited
1987 Beverly Hills Cop II Playboy Mansion Valet
1988 Comedy's Dirtiest Dozen Himself Direct-to-video Concert film
1988 I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Rib Joint Customer
1989 Who Is Chris Rock? Himself Documentary Short
1991 New Jack City Pookie
1992 Boomerang Bony T
1993 CB4 Albert Brown/M.C. Gusto Also writer and co-producer
1995 The Immortals Deke Anthony
1995 Panther Yuck Mouth
1996 Sgt. Bilko 1st Lt. Oster
1997 Beverly Hills Ninja Joey Washington
1998 Dr. Dolittle Rodney (voice)
1998 Lethal Weapon 4 Detective Lee Butters Supporting Role
1999 Torrance Rises Himself Documentary short
1999 Dogma Rufus
2000 Nurse Betty Wesley
2001 Down to Earth Lance Barton Also writer and executive producer
2001 AI: Artificial Intelligence Mecha Comedian (voice) Cameo
2001 Pootie Tang JB/Radio DJ/Pootie's Father Also producer
2001 Osmosis Jones Osmosis Jones (voice)
2001 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Chaka Luther King Cameo
2002 Bad Company Jake Hayes/Kevin Pope/Michael Turner
2002 Comedian Himself Documentary
2003 Pauly Shore Is Dead Himself Cameo
2003 Head of State Mays Gilliam Also director, producer, writer
2004 The N-Word Himself Documentary
2004 Paparazzi Pizza Delivery Guy Cameo
2005 The Aristocrats Himself Documentary
2005 Madagascar Marty (voice)
2005 The Longest Yard Farrell Caretaker
2007 I Think I Love My Wife Richard Marcus Cooper Also director, producer, writer
2007 Bee Movie Mooseblood the Mosquito (voice)
2008 You Don't Mess with the Zohan Taxi Driver Cameo
2008 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Marty and other zebras (voice)
2009 Good Hair Himself Documentary (also producer)
2010 Death at a Funeral Aaron Also producer, remake of the 2007 film of the same name
2010 Grown Ups Kurt McKenzie
2012 2 Days in New York Mingus
2012 What to Expect When You're Expecting Vic
2012 Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Marty (voice) Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Voice
2013 Madly Madagascar Marty (voice)
2013 Grown Ups 2 Kurt McKenzie
2014 Top Five Andre Allen Also director and writer
Nominated—Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actor in a Comedy
2015 A Very Murray Christmas Himself


Year Title Role Notes
1987 Uptown Comedy Express Himself Stand-up special
1987 Miami Vice Carson Episode: "Missing Hours"
1990–1993 Saturday Night Live Various 59 episodes
1993–1994 In Living Color Various 6 episodes
1994 Big Ass Jokes Himself Stand-up special
1995 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Maurice/Jasmine Episode: "Get a Job"
1996–1998 The Moxy Show Flea Uncredited voice role
1996 Martin Valentino Episode: "The Love Jones Connection"
1996 Homicide: Life on the Street Carver Episode: "Requiem for Adena""
1996 Bring the Pain Himself Stand-up special
1996 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Chris Rock/The Wallflowers"
1997 1997 MTV Video Music Awards Host TV special
1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Woody (voice) Episode: "Pinocchio"
1997–2000 The Chris Rock Show Himself 37 episodes; also creator, writer, executive producer
1998 King of the Hill Roger "Booda" Sack (voice) Episode: "Traffic Jam"
1998 Mr. Show with Bob and David Himself Episode: "Eat Rotten Fruit from a Shitty Tree"
1999 1999 MTV Video Music Awards Host TV special
2000 Bigger & Blacker Himself Stand-up special
2003 2003 MTV Video Music Awards Host TV special
2003 The Bernie Mac Show Himself Episode: "Pink gold"
2004 Never Scared Himself Stand-up special
2005 77th Academy Awards Host TV special
2005–2009 Everybody Hates Chris Narrator/Mr. Abbott 88 episodes; also creator, writer, executive producer
2008 Kill the Messenger Himself Stand-up special
2011–2012 Louie Himself 2 Episodes
2012 Tosh.0 Himself Episode: "How to Draw Guy"
2013 A.N.T. Farm Himself Episode: "Animal HusbANTry"
2013 Real Husbands of Hollywood Himself Episode: "Rock, Paper, Stealers"
2014 BET Awards 2014 Host TV special
2014 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Chris Rock/Prince"
2015 Empire Frank Gathers Episode: "The Devils Are Here"
2015 Amy Schumer: Live at The Apollo Director
2016 88th Academy Awards Host TV special

As executive producer

Year Title Notes
1998–2002 The Hughleys 89 episodes
2012–2013 Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell 64 episodes


Year Title Role Notes
2011 The Motherfucker with the Hat Ralph D.


Year Album Peak positions Certifications
U.S. U.S.
1991 Born Suspect
1997 Roll with the New 93 41
1999 Bigger & Blacker 44 26
2005 Never Scared

Awards and nominations

Year Awards Category Recipient Outcome
1997 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special Chris Rock: Bring the Pain Won
1998 Grammy Awards Best Comedy Album Roll with the New Won
1999 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series The Chris Rock Show Won
2000 Grammy Awards Best Comedy Album Bigger & Blacker Won
Black Reel Award Best Supporting Actor Nurse Betty Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Variety Series The Chris Rock Show Nominated
2001 Nominated
2003 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actor – Comedy Head of State Nominated
2006 Grammy Awards Best Comedy Album Never Scared Won
Kids Choice Awards Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Madagascar Won
Wannabe Chris Rock Won
2010 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actor – Comedy Death at a Funeral Nominated
2012 Black Reel Award Best Actor 2 Days in New York Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actor – Comedy What to Expect When You're Expecting Nominated
Movie Voice Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Nominated
2013 Kids Choice Awards Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Nominated
2015 Black Reel Award Best Actor Top Five Nominated
Best Screenplay, Adapted or Original Won
Critics' Choice Awards Best Actor in a Comedy Nominated



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  2. 1 2 3 Wolk, Josh (March 19, 2004). "Chris Rock On Fire". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 13, 2007.
  3. Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Season 14. January 11, 2008. BBC One. part 2
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  6. Sources differ on his year of birth. In his book Rock This!, Rock gives his birth date as February 7, 1966. However, Rock stated he was 42 years old on his February 28, 2007, appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, which is pre-taped and not broadcast live.
  7. "Chris Rock". Inside the Actors Studio. Season 13. Episode 6. March 13, 2007. Bravo.
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  23. "AllMovie - Movies and Films Database - Movie Search, Ratings, Photos, Recommendations, and Reviews".
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  25. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 3, 2016. Retrieved 2015-01-04.
  26. Handy, Bruce (2001). "America's Best Artist's and Entertainers". Time. Archived from the original on October 10, 2007. Retrieved October 20, 2007.
  27. Sample, Kristin (July 10, 2008). "Chris Rock to do his fifth HBO special in September – TCA Report". Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  28. Furey, Phil (April 16, 2010). "Chris Rock sets comic sights on devilish credit". Reuters. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
  29. "Icon Chris Rock". Maxim. April 2007.
  30. "Chris Rock effect fails to boost Oscars"; The Guardian Unlimited; March 2, 2005 Archived November 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  31. "Hey, Chris Rock: Shut the [bleep] up". February 3, 2005.
  32. "Chris Rock, Oscars host, slams Oscars"; Sydney Morning Herald/Reuters; February 16, 2005 Archived September 23, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  33. "Chris Rock to host 2016 Oscars". BBC News.
  34. Abad-Santos, Alex (29 February 2016). "Oscars 2016: Chris Rock dismisses Oscars boycotts in a surprising, political monologue". Vox. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  35. ['Hollywood IS racist': Chris Rock skewers his Oscars audience and killer cops in rip-roaring monologue but saves his real scorn for the boycott brigade Read more: "'Hollywood IS racist': Chris Rock skewers his Oscars audience and killer cops in rip-roaring monologue but saves his real scorn for the boycott brigade"] Check |url= value (help). Daily Mail. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  36. 1 2 Healy, Patrick. "Chris Rock Takes On Broadway in ‘Hat’" Archived January 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., The New York Times blog, October 22, 2010.
  37. Osorio, Kim. "V Exclusive! Chris Rock's 'School Of Rock' Interview" Archived September 21, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., "Vibe" January 24, 2012.
  38. Rock, Chris. Rock This Hyperion, 1997, p. 46. "I got bused from Bed-Stuy to a white school in a poor white neighborhood: Gerretson Beach, Brooklyn... What I actually got was a worse education in a worse neighborhood..."
  39. Morano, Marc. CNSNews. "Bill Cosby to Blacks," July 2, 2004. "When you put on a record, and that record is yelling 'nigger this' and 'nigger that' and cursing all over the thing and you got your little six-year-old and seven-year-old sitting in the back seat of the car—those children hear that... That's all minstrel show stuff. I am tired of it."
  40. Rock, Chris. Rock This; Hyperion, 1997, p. 16.
  41. "Everybody Loves Chris".
  42. NME.COM. "Chris Rock defends Live Earth swearing - NME.COM".
  43. Klopman, Michael (April 1, 2011). "Chris Rock Complains About The Mets On Letterman (VIDEO)". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
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  48. Bitette, Nicole (August 23, 2016). "Chris Rock, Malaak Compton finalize divorce after 20 years of marriage". NewYork Daily News. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
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  53. "Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock Pulled Over for Speeding by New Jersey Cop". NYmag. 2013. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
Preceded by
Dana Carvey
Saturday Night Live host
November 2, 1996
Succeeded by
Robert Downey, Jr.
Preceded by
Jim Carrey
Saturday Night Live host
November 1, 2014
Succeeded by
Woody Harrelson
Preceded by
Dennis Miller
Ben Stiller
Jimmy Fallon
MTV Video Music Awards host
Succeeded by
Ben Stiller
Marlon Wayans and Shawn Wayans
no host
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