Chris Tucker is in a rush to bring laughter to SA

2018-08-12 10:41
Chris Tucker

Johannesburg - You know Chris Tucker if you’re familiar with the cult movie franchise Rush Hour, in which he stars alongside Jackie Chan.

What you may not know is that Tucker began all this on the comedy stage.

Now he’s coming to perform stand up in South Africa, with shows in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban from 7 November.

Before a phone interview from the US, where he is performing ahead of the international leg of his tour, his assistant introduces him and, after a slight pause, Tucker drawls: “Hey man, how you doing?”

It’s the unmistakable voice of Rush Hour’s Detective James Carter, the crown jewel in Tucker’s catalogue of films.

“Right now I’m all over the States getting ready for my international tour, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m writing a lot, looking for different scripts, but stand up has been taking a lot of time, you know, playing the clubs here. But I’m really enjoying it,” he says.

We reminisce about a time when he joked about his apartment being infested with rats and cockroaches. He joked about how the rats and cockroaches were like Crips and Bloods (notorious US gangs), running around his home.

This was long before 2006, when Rush Hour 3 was released, making him the highest-paid actor in Hollywood and seeing him rub shoulders with some of the most popular people on the planet ever since.


So how does he mange to generate relatable material?

“There is always something going on in the world or around my family. There’s always something and I pull from that,” he says.

“I remember arriving in South Africa in 1998 on my first trip to Africa. There are a lot of stories I could tell just from my visit, and things will come back to me when I return. Things in my personal life – like hanging with Michael Jackson and Bill Clinton, who I came to Africa with. A couple of funny things went down and I share those moments too.”

Tucker has visited Africa quite a bit over the years.

“I love it but I’ve never performed stand-up in Africa. My films have travelled there but the stand-up has never worked out,” he says.

“This time it has and it is exciting. To me Africa isn’t as far as others might suggest. It’s a second home to me. I have been to 16 countries on the continent, and South Africa being the first means it holds a special place in my heart.”


Tucker says his team are in the process of scouting some local talent to open shows for him in November.

“We are looking at that, and hopefully we can find someone. It would be great to have a local comic do something at the beginning. I don’t think we’ll struggle though, and I am really excited for the show,” he says.

He offers advice to up and coming talent: “Don’t give up. Work on your craft as much as you can and perform anywhere – a wedding, a family reunion, a bar. Just get on stage as much as possible and stay in front of people and the doors will open up for you.”

Comedians ride a fine line between funny and offensive. It is almost impossible to master without ruffling a few feathers.

“I’m always controversial but I want people to enjoy the show, which is the whole purpose, to entertain and make everyone laugh without offending anyone, which can be tricky. My main intention is always to provide a memorable time,” he says.

Tucker is working on a few new films.

Without giving too much away, he says: “I will be jumping into something new really soon. I’m taking on producing, writing and directing. Keep a look out for that.”

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