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.”

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