Oprah: Part of your talent is taking those real-life moments that aren't necessarily funny and making them humorous. How do you do that—are you always on the lookout for humor?
Chris: Yes, and I get bored very easily. Also, when I take something that's not so funny and find humor in it and put a new angle on it, then I'm not just a comedian—I'm a journalist.
Oprah: That's the Bryant Gumbel in you coming out.
Chris: That's how I contribute. That's how I am an artist. To merely talk about something that's funny is one thing, but there's no real art to that.
Oprah: When you're out someplace and you think of something humorous, do you stop and write it down or do you just catalog it in your head?
Chris: I catalog it in a PalmPilot, or I call up my answering machine at home and tell a joke into it so I can remember it later.
Oprah: When you do a performance, you don't just get up there and stand—you stalk back and forth onstage. There's a rhythm to it.
Chris: I'm trying to give you your money's worth. An entertainer's reputation as a live act is the most valuable thing he or she can have. If people know you give good shows, you'll never be broke for the rest of your life. Your agent and manager may even swindle you, but you'll always make money. Someone like Patti LaBelle can go back on the road anytime, because we all know that Patti is going to throw down. She doesn't even need a hit record.
Oprah: She can just sing "You Are My Friend."
Chris: Yes! So, early in my career it was very important that I gain that reputation. I haven't been on the road in two or three years, but when I say tickets are on sale, I know they're going to be gone, even if my movie bombed or my TV show sucked. For years I've been laying the groundwork for my routine. My style is half rapper, half preacher. My grandfather was a preacher, and when I'm talking to an audience, I am doing the same thing he did—giving people a new perspective on their lives.
Oprah: Do you believe everyone has a calling and that humor is yours?
Chris: This is absolutely what I was put on earth to do—to make people laugh about things that weren't so funny to begin with. That's why I'm here.
Oprah: And now you're preparing to take on another huge calling—fatherhood.
Chris: Our child is such a 9/11 baby. I said to myself, "The world's falling down, and what have I done with my life?" We've been married five years, but we've never planned anything—it has always been about today. After September 11, I said, "It's time. Let's have a baby."
We Hear You!