Chris Tucker: Bringing Back the Laughs

Rob Moynihan
Courtesy Chris Tucker Entertainment

Don’t call it a comeback. Chris Tucker was the king of the box office more than a decade ago thanks to the Rush Hour franchise, but other than a small role in 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook, he’s been mostly MIA from Hollywood for the past eight years. Now Tucker, 43, is debuting his first stand-up special, Chris Tucker Live, premiering July 10 on Netflix. The actor opens up about his life growing up in Atlanta—where the special was taped—and the highs and lows of becoming famous.

Why has it taken so long for you to release a comedy special?
I accidentally put stand-up to the side because my movie career took off, but I never stopped doing it. I always went to clubs and got on stage from time to time. But at this time in my life, I’ve got to make my claim in stand-up and let people know about those who inspired me, like Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy.

Which parts of your routine might surprise fans who only know you from films?
I hit on how and where I grew up, and I do a little bit of singing. I don’t do a lot of impressions, but [having] hung out with Michael Jackson and Bill Clinton, those impressions are fun to do. Michael was such a big part of pop culture growing up, but then I became friends with him, so I wanted to share that. And I went on some humanitarian trips to Africa with Bill Clinton, which really broadened my mind.

You hit on a lot of personal moments. Is anything off-limits?
No, I talk about everything. If it’s tax troubles or bills, friends and family relationships, I put it out there. It’s my life, and I’m not holding anything back.

In this era of reboots, do you see yourself ever doing another Friday or Rush Hour?
Friday is a cult-classic movie, and I’m so happy fans love it. But I don’t know if I could ever pull off [a remake], because it was a period of time where I was much younger and it was just the right time for that movie. Rush Hour was fun and I would love to do something else with Jackie [Chan] one day, but I’m looking forward to doing different and new stuff.

What are your thoughts about CBS reviving Rush Hour as a TV series next season?
I think it’s great that they want to do a TV show. That movie really took on a life of its own.

Any chance you would do a cameo?
I don’t think so, because I want to keep moving forward. But I hope it does well.