Why ‘Judge Steve Harvey’ Isn’t Your Typical Courtroom Show

Steve Harvey for Judge Steve Harvey
ABC/Matt Sayles

“Stop all this laughing!” shouts Steve Harvey as he bangs his gold-plated gavel, then breaks into guffaws, in his new primetime courtroom show.

Indeed, justice takes an irreverent turn when the comedian and superhost brings his winning smile and zest for zingers to the bench. “Let me give you my thoughts on this: You crazy!” he jokes to one litigant. A stern Judge Judy he is not, although he does rule on real-life conflicts.

Harvey makes his argument for why you should watch.

What makes you different from other TV magistrates?

Steve Harvey: I knew I had to just be myself. Most judges are interested in the law: These are the facts, and that’s it. I’m going to dig up the story behind why people came to court vs. what they’re in court for. I lean on decades of experience dealing with all types of situations and people, and I rely on my street savvy, common sense and humor to get it done.

Your cases include unpaid bets, sour friendships, family disputes—any highlights?

We had two sisters suing one another for $6,000, which is substantial. I found out the truth of why they were there, and it wasn’t just about money. There was a son who sued his mother. As he was standing there, you could see the people in the gallery turning on him.

Steve Harvey in Judge Steve Harvey

ABC/Danny Delgado

Can you suss out when people are lying?

There are little tells people have. You can see their eye movement and hear their voice inflection. I know this, so I get to the truth a lot better than most.

You’re an entertainer at heart. At one point, you hold up a sign saying “WTF”! Will there be other moments viewers have never seen in a judge show before?

I’m finally in a court where I can’t lose, so anything goes! And I’m probably one of the only judges that allows for gallery participation. They laugh, they hiss, they boo—they’re really involved!

Are you heavy-handed with your gavel?

I [say things] like “Hey, that’s enough,” “Be quiet” and “I’ve heard all I need to hear from you.” I forget I have it sometimes!

Judge Steve Harvey, Series Premiere, Tuesday, January 4, 8/7c, ABC