Chris Tucker on his comedy roots and his “comeback” stand-up comedy tour, film

Chris Tucker joked this past week that his new stand-up comedy tour is called his “IRS Tour,” a reference to his owing the Internal Revenue Service more than $11 million.

Tucker told Jimmy Fallon that he had taped a new stand-up comedy film last week in his hometown of Atlanta — fulfilling a dream of duplicating what comedy idols of his, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, had done before hi. Roll a clip.

Chris Tucker talked much more at length about his career last week with Ron Bennington (pitcured above) for SiriusXM’s “Unmasked.” It airs today at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. on SiriusXM’s Raw Dog Comedy Channel.

Here are some highlights:

  • Speaking of Pryor and Murphy, Tucker said he owes a lot of his own comedy to them. Specifically: “Richard Pryor’s facial expressions. I had to take that…Eddie Murphy’s fast-talking…Bill Cosby’s character,” Tucker said.
  • Tucker said he waited until now to film a stand-up concert because he is a perfectionist. “It’s either got to be next level or not do it at all.”
  • On taking time off after the Rush Hour movies, and becoming a global activist alongside the likes of U2’s Bono and former President Bill Clinton: “If I’d been working like crazy, I would have missed out on those trips with Clinton and Bono.”
  • Tucker’s grandfather and great-grandfather were preachers. Tucker said his great-grandfather gave money to black landowners so they wouldn’t have to move north to find work. “My pulpit is the stage,” he said. “But I’m connected to that.”
  • Tucker acknowledges, “When I was younger, I’d curse like a sailor,” but has since softened his language onstage. “I express myself in other ways, which makes me a better comedian.”
  • On the importance, he says, of just keeping going, keep pushing, and opportunities will open themselves up. “I didn’t get the Bay Area competition, but I did get Def (Comedy) Jam. I was up for a TV series and didn’t get that, but did get Friday.” He added: “I make mistakes like everybody else. I just don’t give up.”

One of Tucker’s big breaks came in 1994, two years after moving from Atlanta to Los Angeles, when he appeared in the music video for Heavy D’s “Nuttin’ But Love.” Tucker said Heavy D had seen him perform at The Comedy Store and asked him to be in the video. That video was one of the early works for director Brett Ratner, who put Tucker in Money Talks, and then, of course, Rush Hour.

But his real start in the business, he said, came earlier than that with a part lasting less than 90 seconds in House Party 3. “I got an agent from that,” Tucker said. And having an agent helped him land an audition for Friday. “They were looking for someone young and fresh, and there I was,” he said.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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