“And you know this man!” is one of the signature one-liners that made Chris Tucker a household name in the mid 90’s. Since then he’s had a few hit movies, but thought to disappear from the big screen. And when he did appear, it was among rumors of tax troubles. But Tucker points out that Charlie Chaplin developed his classic “Tramp” character because he was broke at the time. As Chaplin did, Tucker is importing his recent struggles into his routine.
“Comedy comes from conflict. I talk about my life. I talk about my beginnings. People identify.”
While he has been a millionaire, Tucker also knows about the other side: mainly being broke.
Now just a year shy of turning 50, Tucker reflects on his humble beginnings with no money. He was the youngest in a family of six in Decatur, Ga., where his father was a janitor. Tucker helped out the family by working as a janitor at Burger King.
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“I started my dream at comedy clubs in Decatur. I’d work late at night and still get to my early-morning shift. I left for Los Angeles when I was 18 because I knew if I was going to make it, it would have to be there.”
His idols were comics-turned-acting stars Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor.
“Movies were my main source. Later, I learned that movies are much slower. Stand-up is a good deal, more rewarding.”
Although mainly known for his high pitched voice and supercharged energy, his characters, like Smokey in the “Friday” series of movies, are also known for their four-letter words. Coincidentally, Tucker’s absence from movies for the past five years came after he announced he would not curse in roles again.
“I want to be on the edge, but, on the other hand, I want to reach everyone. The balance is a tricky one.”
And though he gained fame playing drug addicts, Tucker said he isn’t into that scene.
“I was raised a Christian, but I still think an entertainer has to play modern roles. Playing a role isn’t being that character. Most of all, my mom raised me not to take anything that can take control of me. Staying with that hasn’t been a problem.”
“It’s harder than ever to do stand-up now because people’s attention span is so short. An entire generation has grown up with television, and they want everything to move fast. Very fast,” Tucker said. “My show requires top energy. I always arrive in the city a day early so I can get a good night’s sleep before the show.”
Because of Chris Tucker’s tax woes were public, he isn’t talking sad or throwing any pitty-parties. He believes he’s here to make people laugh.
“Comedy comes from pain,” he said. “The trick is don’t ever let the pain show, and keep going.”
Now touring again doing stand up all over the world, Chris says he talks about everything on-stage, from current events to his life. “I talk about so much stuff that you wouldn’t know about me unless you came to the show,”…