Oprah: I've read that you were teased a lot in high school and used humor to deflect it. Were your school years traumatic?
Chris: Yes. I'm over that now, but at the time it was bad. School was my entire world.
Oprah: When did the teasing begin?
Chris: In second grade. And it lasted until tenth grade—the year I left high school.
Oprah: That's brutal.
Chris: Yes, and when all you know is school, you think you're going to know the people around you forever.
Oprah: When did you first know you were funny?
Chris: I didn't know I was funny—I just knew that people responded to me in a humorous way. Funny is only something that others know about you—you can't be funny by yourself. I often hear people say, "I always knew I was funny." I want to say, "You idiot—you didn't know anything."
Oprah: But didn't you know you had a gift for making people laugh?
Chris: You only know that you're smart because you're around dumb people from time to time! That's the moment when you say to yourself, "Hey, I know a thing or two."
Oprah: So then you did know you had a talent?
Chris: When I was about 6, I said to myself, "Wait a minute—I'm dead serious, and everyone else is cracking up." I thought, "I've got something here. Let me learn how to work it."
Oprah: And that you did.
Chris: Yes. By the time I was 7 or 8, I wanted to be a comedy writer. When I'd see the credits roll after a comedy show, I'd say to myself, "I'm going to write for one of these shows one day."
Oprah: Who inspired you back then?
Chris: Bill Cosby was the first comedian I was exposed to, because he doesn't curse. As a boy, I'd sneak to stay up and watch Cosby guest-host The Tonight Show. A lot of people don't remember that he hosted that show back in the seventies—and he was a genius at it. He'd be smoking a cigar with his cool plaid suit on.
We Hear You!