Always versatile and relentlessly hilarious, Broderick Steven “Steve” Harvey has become a prominent figure in the African-American community. The stand-up comedian-turned-actor-turned-radio personality became widely popular after he was granted his own self-titled show on the WB network. He later teamed up with fellow comedians Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley and Bernie Mac to tour the country as The Kings of Comedy.
Harvey is known for his overt honesty, love of children and his sharp attire. His suit tailoring business has inspired many young celebrities like Bow Wow to dress better. Each of his unique characteristics contributes to Harvey’s compelling ability to shift from one arena to the next – from uncut stand-up acts to movies like Johnson Family Vacation and his most recent film Don’t Trip… He Ain’t Through with Me Yet. He has also become a staple spokesman on BET, and hosts a string of events for the network.
That’s hardly all Harvey has on his plate. Add author, ownership of a record label and a stylish new clothing line, and you have a renaissance man on your hands. He took some time with us to discuss his new radio show, and to set record straight regarding his ex-wife, dealing with haters, and his sometimes controversial views about Hip-Hop.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You have found success in many different [areas] – television, movies, radio, and now fashion. How do you deal with the transition going between highly family-oriented projects to being raw and uncut in your radio and comedy careers?
Steve Harvey: It’s just the way I’ve always been. I have the ability to do it both ways. I can be funny no matter what. I made the majority of my money doing family stuff.
AHHA: Have you received criticism from relatives or fans with regard to your range of exposure, and if so, how do you deal with that?
Steve: You know, if you’re famous in any way you open yourself up to criticism. I’ve had it from family, friends, and the competition. Often times, people are just haters and don’t even know you. I’ve adjusted to that. There’s going to be nay-sayers, but they didn’t give me these blessings, so they can’t take them away.
AHHA: You have a new movie entitled Don’t Trip… He Ain’t Through With Me Yet, which was filmed at Bishop T.D. Jakes’ Mega Fest. In the movie you poke fun at everything from church rituals to individual members of the congregation. Did you have to make a significant adjustment in this stand-up act from your routine stand-up like The Kings of Comedy?
Steve: Not really. Its’ really the best piece of work I’ve ever done. The thing I’m most proud of is the ability to be this clean and still be this funny. It’s on DVD now, and there’s a part at the end that’s very unique and just great. I’ve never seen it done by any comedian before, so it’s definitely something to look forward to.
AHHA: In the movie you work alongside Ricky Smiley, another well-known comedic figure. How has it been watching him develop as a comedian and actor since the days of Showtime at the Apollo?
Steve: It’s been great. When I first saw him in Birmingham I didn’t know he was going to be this great. I’ve given him some advice along the way. He’s very talented though – plays keys, acts – he’s really funny. He actually opens up for my show on the DVD.
AHHA: It seems your career has flourished since The Kings of Comedy. How do you feel about the other “Kings” accomplishments or failures, especially with Bernie Mac’s hit series doing so well on Fox?
Steve: I love all of them. We had a ball on the [Kings of Comedy] tour. It’s good to see Bernie have so much success in TV and films. I know Cedric the Entertainer has gone on to make more movies. DL has his show on TV. It’s great to see them all doing well. We really are all good friends.
AHHA: Is there a significant difference between working in radio and doing television and stand-up? Does the lack of a live audience or large cast affect your ability to “bring the funny?”
Steve: It’s different, you know. You gotta be more verbally strong than in stand-up, but it’s harder to be a stand up than a radio guy. You can turn a stand up into a radio guy, but not vice versa.
AHHA: The Steve Harvey Morning Show, based out of Los Angeles, was very successful in the L.A. Were you happy with the results of the national syndication? What is your plan with your new show to take things to the next level?
Steve: We’re number one in New York, Philly and Detroit. We’re in 23 cities right now. We’ve just taken that same flair and improved it. There are no problems with management this time around, so I’m happy – just looking forward to having a great running with the show.
AHHA: Star, [formerly of] The Star and Bucwild Morning Show, has had a lot to say since you moved to WBLS in New York, countering Clear Channel-owned WMXD. How do you feel about being hated on by the “Ultimate Hater”?
Steve: I understand what jealousy is. I don’t even know him or what he does, and I don’t really care. I would never waste one second of my radio time with my audience to address anything that’s not beneficial to my listeners. I made all of mine being positive, and I rather have all of what I have than what they have.
AHHA: That’s a great way of looking at things. Speaking of being positive, since its conception in 1997, The Steve and Mary L. Harvey Foundation has met with great success in transforming educational institutions across Los Angeles. Now that you and your wife are no longer together, are you still working as a team on this foundation?
Steve: Yeah. The foundation is alive and well. My ex-wife and I are still hanging in there still friends.
AHHA: I know you were singled out by Irving “Magic” Johnson and Michael Jordan as the man who influenced the NBA to start wearing fashionable suits, and you have been classified as one of the best dressed men in Hollywood. Did any of these praises play a part in your decision to start your own clothing line?
Steve: Yeah. It got me thinking. You know I really appreciate Jordan and Magic. They inspired me to become a better businessman, because those brothers are two of the best athletic businessmen of our time. I owe them gratitude for being two outstanding examples of prominent Black businessmen, which has pushed me to do the same.
AHHA: There have been many African American men in the industry that have successfully ventured out into the world of fashion. What do you attribute to the rise in popularity of African-American owned clothing lines in the mainstream?
Steve: Well you know we’re such a big part of the clothing economy anyway. [African-Americans] have always been trendsetters in fashion and it makes sense that we should capitalize off it. Puffy and Jay-Z’s clothing lines are among the top sellers right now, and hey if I can get in on that then that’s a good deal, you know.
AHHA: Over the years you have been very clear about your disdain with regard to Hip-Hop music, yet you rarely are as vocal in criticizing current trends in R&B. How do you feel about new R&B singers who are influenced by old school soul as well as Hip-Hop, like Trey Songz, Omarion or Ne-Yo.
Steve: It’s great to hear good music, and I want to really get this clear. I’m not critical about Hip-Hop music and rap music. The only issue I have about rap is that [the artists] have such powerful voices – they are truly the poets of our time – but don’t take the power you have with that microphone and degrade our women. Stop calling our Black women b****es and hoes. After several hundred years of slavery, being single parents, and all of that, they’ve been through enough. Why they got to be b****es and hoes too. It makes no damn sense at all to do this to their own. Jewish people don’t make anti-semitic remarks about their people, and don’t allow artists to either. So why do we allow ourselves to make a mockery of our own people. You don’t hear Chinese people saying “this for all my Chinese b*****es out there.” Treat our women with more respect is all I’m saying. F**k, man this s**t really pisses the hell off.
AHHA: I can completely understand. Is there any Hip-Hop that you do like?
Steve: Yeah man, I like Ludacris, Jay-Z, LL, T.I. – hell, I like a lot of them. I know all these cats personally. They’re smart and intelligent. Just some cats get around their crew and they act different, but they’re different when you get them one on one.