Comedian Katt Williams considers his comedy shows a way to bring people together for important and funny conversations. He also likes making it a multi-comedian event, bringing along a group of funny folks to engage audiences with their respective jokes and insights. His current Great America Tour includes comedians Mark Curry (whom you might remember from the ‘90s ABC series Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper), Chalant, Cory “Zooman” Miller, and Red Grant.
Oh yeah, there’s also a DJ. It's a mobile party that tackles the issues.
Not only does Williams have a successful career selling out venues for his stand-up shows, he’s got an active TV and movie career. He first appeared on television shows in the early 2000s, including NYPD Blue and The Tracy Morgan Show, before making his big-screen debut that same year as Money Mike in Friday After Next.
His tour hits Phoenix on Friday, June 16. During our chat with him, we didn’t have enough time to get too many details on his latest film, but we did talk about tour material, his feelings about the good ol’ U.S. of A., and the women of Phoenix.
Hey, Katt, what can you tell us about your current tour?
It's the Great America Tour, and by the time we get to Phoenix, we'll be about 90 cities in. So, the one prior to that was the Conspiracy Theory Tour, and we got a lot of things in the conversation that we thought might be on the horizon that I thought might seem crazy, but turns out that they're not so crazy.
Things that were on the political horizon?
Political and cultural. So, since some of those things came to fruition, our reminder is that America is great because it's always been great. It has great people and that doesn't change no matter what things do change. It's wonderful that even after 22 years in the stand-up game, from the time that the audience sits down and we get started to the time it finishes, it's nonstop laughs all the way through. It’s the best lineup I’ve ever had. Everybody has a different point of view — original and we just have a great time. We can't wait to get to Phoenix.
That's awesome. I'd guess from what you're saying and not saying, Trump and co. are included in your material?
Yeah, we discuss anything that's big enough to affect us all, so there are 10 or 12 things that affect all of us, no matter your nationality or race. These are things that we're dealing with as Americans and we know that changes from year to year and sparks different conversations. We've got to be able to be in that conversation. When we come to a place like Phoenix, it's rare because it's a place that has long been having these conversations. Things that have been important to Phoenix and Arizona for 20 years have now been talked about by the entire country for 20 months. We realize that not everything is black and white or cut and dry — we're talking about people — there’s always enough material to do that.
Your tours are no joke, no pun intended. You go out on some pretty long stretches.
This is our 12th 100-city tour. It's a real relationship we all have. And when you have a fan base consistently coming in as an equal mix of African-American, Hispanic, and Caucasian attendees, fact that you're bringing these people together in all these cities is so important. It's important for the audience and it's certainly important for us as performers who are having a very open discussion.
That's great that you regularly see diverse audiences.
Definitely. It doesn't always happen, but Phoenix is certainly one of the places where it does. We think of Phoenix as Vegas without the gambling. And the women are magnificent [laughs].
Is that so?
That's no secret, ma'am. It's on page one of the tourism booklet for Phoenix.
Good to know. I like uncovering these important facts! You’re from Dayton, Ohio, right? Do you find an especially hearty fan base there giving you some hometown love?
I love Ohio. There’s so many great things about it. It benefits me as a person who has conversations for a living, that I come from an influential place. It's a place where it's known for loyalty, in different types of situations. Take the sports teams, no matter how they’re doing, the support for them is always there [laughs]. I always carry the banner for Ohio. It’s a place that reflects the spirit of the U.S. Our society is driven by culture as well, and that's the heart of each place.
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When some comedians find success making movies, or just get an affinity for it, they’ll put stand-up aside. Do you think making movies would ever become something you give more time to?
If I'm on the road for eight or nine months to hit 100 cities, then by the time I finish that, I really only have time for a small movie project, and then it's back on the road. I carry the banner for comedy. Every time we do one of these tours, we're presenting completely fresh material. We work hard to maintain the pace and the quality of the show, and that's how we've been able to get to this point. You can't have anything that is culturally or regionally biased, as you're attempting to hit the entire country with each of these routes. It makes you such a huge fan of the U.S. as a whole, that it's never a burden. I've lived a full enough life to know that you can be dog tired at the end of the day from doing a lot of jobs in our country, that I dare not act like I am under any stress getting to work in this vocation. You’re lucky if you find something you love, and you're good at. I'm either in it for the money or I'm in it for fan base, and thus far it's for the fan base. I am really, really happy with the fan base we have.
Katt Williams, you seem like you're at a pretty resolved, peaceful place with yourself. What makes you laugh?
[Laughs] I think that's such a whole new frontier, as far as that goes. There used to be only a few avenues to take to find new funny things. Between social media and Hulu and all the different channels, there's so much out there that I don't know where those next laughs are going to come from. Right now, I'm addicted to everything that's live on YouTube. Like when April [the giraffe] had her baby! I waited for two months for her to have that baby. I was literally horrified the entire time! But laughs? I find those everywhere I can, all the time.
We are about out of time; did you want to mention the new movie you have coming out?
It's called Bastards with Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, Glenn Close, and Ving Rhames. We may be coming through town again to promote and talk about it soon, so we can save that for next time.
See Katt Williams' Great America Tour at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 16, at Comerica Theatre, 400 West Washington Avenue. Tickets are $50 to $100. Call 602-379-2800 or visit Comerica Theatre.