Chris Tucker interview about Netflix special July 10

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Monday, July 6, 2015

Decatur native Chris Tucker is the anti-Kevin Hart.

Unlike the ubiquitous Hart, 43-year-old Tucker keeps his TV and film slate relatively light. His last movie? A supporting role in the 2012 hit "Silver Linings Playbook," his first non-"Rush Hour" film in 15 years. His last big TV gig? Hosting the BET Awards two years ago.

He's not a celebrity who wears out his welcome or spends obsessive amounts of time on social media. (He has posted all of two photos on his Instagram account.)

But he is now filming an Ang Lee film "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" and promoting his very first stand-up special "Chris Tucker Live," available on Friday for all Netflix subscribers.

The 90-minute concert was shot at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.

"I taped it awhile ago," Tucker said in a phone interview from Los Angeles last week. "I talk about my family. I talk about all the friendships I've had over the years, going to celebrity events. It's a lot of fun."

The high-energy, highly physical show opens with Tucker dancing to James Brown's "Sex Machine," then jumps into dating and his criteria for who he wants in a mate.

"You have to be more than fine... You've got to be able to fill out a 1099," he told the crowd, alluding to his much publicized tax debts with the IRS. Then he added: "That's the last time I let Wesley Snipes help me out with my taxes."

He weaved stories about being in a music video with Michael Jackson, his hardscrabble childhood in Decatur and his troubles at school.

Chris Tucker dancing

"I used to get on teacher's nerves," Tucker said at the Fox. "They'd get mad. 'If you act up Chris, I'm going to call your mama!' 'You're going to call my mom, you'll have to pay the phone bill because the phone been cut off for two weeks."

He said he chose Netflix as the outlet because "they can reach the world. I have fans all over the world because of my movies. Everyone is streaming now."

Damon Wayans

"I saw great comedians there growing up," Tucker said. "I saw Damon Wayans there when I was still coming up. I had a great moment with him. I was up in the balcony but after the show I made it to the stage and shook his hand. I said, 'I'm going to be like you!' He looked at me like I was crazy. I'm sure he doesn't remember it but I know it happened!"

He said he wasn't nervous despite being at home. "I was just ready," he said. "I stepped up to the challenge. The crowd was with me."

Tucker said he has focused in recent years on stand-up, touring the world, from Australia to the Middle East to Asia.

Tucker treasures his personal life and declined to comment about Fox 5 anchor Cynne Simpson, who he is allegedly dating. Photos of the couple are scattered around the Web.

But he is willing to own up to a friendship with occasional Atlantan Justin Bieber. They recently landed on Snapchat together. "I'm like a mentor to him," Tucker said. "Every time I see him, I try to give him a little big brother advice. He's a great kid. I'm really proud of him."

After my interview, TMZ came out with news that comic Terry Hodges is suing Netflix and Tucker, claiming he did work on the special but was not properly compensated to the tune of $66,000. Tucker's attorney gave TMZ the standard statement that the lawsuit has no merit.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.