June 26, 2003 11:00 AM

Chris Rock has a summer job: The comic, 30, is set to return as the host of the MTV Video Music Awards, the cable channel announced Wednesday.

Last year, the job was handled by Jimmy Fallon, who like Rock comes from “Saturday Night Live.”

This year’s event, the 20th annual, is due to be held Aug. 28 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, and Rock says he is, well, a bit rocky when it comes to doing his standup routines.

“I haven’t performed in a lo-o-o-o-ng time,” the “Chris Rock Show” Emmy winner and movie star (“Bad Company,” “Head of State”) told The Associated Press in a phone interview Wednesday. His solution will be to take his act on the road for a cross-country club tour.

Rock, 37, previously emceed the MTV show in 1997 and ’99, which taught him a few lessons, he says.

“You watch people host these shows who change outfits eight times in the show. No — watch the show. That’s the most important thing,” reveals Rock.

“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, as happened in ’99), and you’d hate to miss that because you’re putting on something from Banana Republic.”

In his personal life, Rock has been spending time with his daughter with wife Malaak Compton-Rock, Lola Simone. The baby turns 1 on Saturday.

“I’ve had two callings in life: stand-up comedy and fatherhood,” says Rock. “Those are the only things I embrace.”

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