NEW YORK - Chris Rock will be back as host of the MTV Video Music Awards, the cable channel announced Wednesday.
But he acknowledges that his stand-up skills are a little rusty.
So the comedian is going on a cross-country club tour to prepare for the 20th annual awards show Aug. 28 at Radio City Music Hall.
"I haven't performed in a lo-o-o-o-ng time," Rock told The Associated Press in a phone interview Wednesday.
After starring in the Emmy-winning "Chris Rock Show" on HBO in the late '90s, he's been focusing on films the past few years, including "Down to Earth," a remake of "Heaven Can Wait"; "Bad Company" with Anthony Hopkins; and this year's "Head of State," his directorial debut, in which he starred as a presidential candidate.
Rock won't announce his comedy show dates ahead of time - he wouldn't even say where the tour will begin next week. Tickets will go on sale in each city just 24 hours in advance.
But after having hosted the irreverent awards show in 1997 and 1999, Rock knows that much of the comedy springs organically as the evening progresses. Jimmy Fallon from "Saturday Night Live" - of which Rock is an alum - was the host last year.
"You watch people host these shows who change outfits eight times in the show. No - watch the show. That's the most important thing," Rock said.
"Half the time the presenters don't read what's on the cue cards and you never know when Diana Ross is going to grab Lil' Kim's (breast), and you'd hate to miss that because you're putting on something from Banana Republic."
Rock was referring to one of the more outrageous moments in Video Music Award history in 1999, when Ross fondled rapper Lil' Kim's left breast, which was covered only in a lavender pasty.
Over the past year, though, the 37-year-old has been keeping busy with more wholesome activities - his daughter with wife Malaak Compton-Rock, Lola Simone, who's turning 1 on Saturday.
"You just want to protect your kid from stuff. It makes you want to work harder as an artist. Now you need the money - what's college going to cost in 18 years?" he asked.
"I've had two callings in life: stand-up comedy and fatherhood," added Rock. "Those are the only things I embrace."