Chris Rock’s First Stand-Up Special in a Decade Debuts on Netflix Tomorrow

Netflix wants you to celebrate Valentine’s Day with Chris Rock.

The iconic comedian said on Tuesday that Chris Rock: Tamborine, his first stand-up special in a decade, will start streaming on Netflix on Wednesday, Feb. 14. The surprise announcement follows a mysterious ad campaign in which the streaming giant teased an unnamed upcoming project with images of a tamborine accompanied by the tagline “Will you play?” in videos and on billboards.

Directed by fellow comedian Bo Burnham and filmed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in New York City, Tamborine is Rock’s first stand-up special since HBO’s Kill the Messenger in 2008. “With his trademark laser-like observations, Rock covers the gamut of contemporary issues, with incisive and insightful commentary on life,” Netflix said in its own release announcing the new special.

Rock touted the news on social media, with posts on Twitter and Instagram featuring a full teaser video for the stand-up special.

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In 2016, Netflix signed a deal with Rock for two comedy specials, reportedly paying the comedian a whopping $40 million in total for the two projects. At that price tag, Rock is reportedly receiving more per special than other A-list comedians such as Amy Schumer and Jerry Seinfeld. Dave Chappelle also reportedly signed on to create three stand-up specials for Netflix at $20 million apiece, though the comedian recently released his fourth special for the streaming service.

Netflix continues to invest large amounts of money in live comedy, with stand-up specials from the likes of Kevin James and Ellen Degeneres still on the way. The company is also releasing more short-form comedy specials featuring up-and-coming comedians, from 15-minute spots to its series of half-hour specials, called The Standups.

The streaming service’s decision to tease Rock’s new special with mysterious marketing followed by a surprise announcement less than 24 hours ahead of release is the latest example of Netflix experimenting with release strategies for original programming. In this case, it would appear that Netflix is looking to build buzz for the highly-anticipated special by dropping it on viewers with little warning. However, the strategy is similar to Netflix’s surprise release of the sci-fi movie The Cloverfield Paradox immediately after Super Bowl LII earlier this month after only announcing the film in a trailer that aired during the big game. That movie did not fare well with critics, which could explain why Netflix did not want to shell out for an extended marketing campaign. Expectations for Rock’s first stand-up special in a decade are likely much higher.

Chris Rock: Tamborine will be available for streaming on Netflix starting at midnight Pacific Time tonight.

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