Spotlight on comedian Chris Tucker
The American comedian is in SA as part of his world tour
LOVE FOR SA The actor and comedian first visited our shores in 1998 and calls it his second home, but it’s the first time he’ll be performing stand-up comedy in Mzansi.
“My films have travelled there but the stand-up has never worked out before,” he told Channel24. “This time it has and it’s exciting. I’ve been to 16 countries on the continent, and South Africa being the first one where I do a show means it holds a special place in my heart.” KEEPING IT CLEAN Chris concedes his language was somewhat more “liberal” when he first started out in the industry in the early ’90s. Now, as a born-again Christian, he tries to keep his skits clean.
“Being a Christian helps me in comedy,” the 47-year-old comedian says. “I have to talk about other stuff. I have to dig deeper to find something that’s still funny and not raunchy. It’s harder. I like the challenge.” ROOTS Just more than a decade ago Chris took part in a documentary called African American Lives and took a DNA test to determine his genetic make-up. He found he has Sub-Saharan African (83%), Native American (10%) and European (7%) ancestry. The test traced his father’s lineage back to the Ambundu ethnic group of Angola and one line of his mother’s to the Bamileke of Cameroon. HELPING HAND His travels around the world with philanthropists such as U2 frontman Bono and former US president Bill Clinton, and his numerous visits to Africa in particular have broadened his perspective on life.
“I took for granted simple things like clean water,” he says. It inspired him to start the Chris Tucker Foundation, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to “strengthening communities and inspiring young minds”. Among other things the foundation runs theatre camps for kids, assists families in need, provides scholarships and arranges exchange programmes between kids in the US and Africa. OFF THE GRID He first made a name for himself as a stand-up comedian but it was his role as a cop in the Rush Hour film franchise alongside Jackie Chan that catapulted him into the ranks of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors.
But he kept a low profile between instalments of the movie, surfacing only for the odd TV appearance, comedy show or acting role such as his acclaimed supporting performance in 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook.
He was selective about films because he’d rather “wait for special stuff ” than take on roles just for the sake of it. “I want to get better. I want to do stuff that excites me, that’s different and fun.”