Serious Question: Can Chris Tucker Still Be Funny?

June 13, 2013  |  


If you missed the memo, the 2013 BET Awards are airing at the end of the month. I know, I haven’t seen that much advertising for it either. The man who will be hosting what should be a surprise of an awards show (since we never know if the big names will show up to pick up their awards since they think they’re too good all of a sudden) will be Chris Tucker of all people. When it was first announced that Tucker would be holding things down this time around, I thought to myself, “Chris Tucker???” Not to throw shade, but out of pure confusion. Where did this pick come from? Where did Tucker come from actually?

The comedian who was once the talk of the town in the ’90s literally spent the last decade taking a cue from Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo, going into hiding while fans wondered what the hell was going on. As time passed he occasionally showed up on red carpets, showed up courtside at Lakers games smiling with his son, and would get stopped by the police on his way to church. A little bit here, a little bit there. So why he was the one to call “confuzzled” a sista. But I guess the motivation to give Tucker a shot at hosting duties came out of the fact that he starred in one of the most critically acclaimed films of last year–Silver Linings Playbook. I’ve seen the movie. It’s good. Yet and still, was Tucker really funny per se? His character had too much of a sad background story, what with constantly being put back into the mental institution he was trying to escape when no one was looking to really bust out a chuckle at his lines. So while I’m glad his career is getting a second wind, I’m a little concerned that the Tucker we’ll see come June 30 won’t be nearly as funny as we’re hoping for.

Rewind to the mid-90s and I could see myself getting excited by this new opportunity for the actor/comedian. Tucker was literally what kept people’s eyes glued to the screen when folks were watching Friday; he showed he had serious acting chops in Dead Presidents and Jackie Brown; he showed he could steal the shine from movie legends in The Fifth Element, and he made dysfunctional buddy comedies cool again via Rush Hour. But after all that back-to-back success and spotlight, Tucker seemed to all of a sudden shy away from it. Next thing you know, we only saw him in Rush Hour movies every few years, he all of a sudden wanted nothing to do with the Friday franchise, and preferred to spend his time singing and dancing alongside Michael Jackson (we’re not mad at him for that though). And after that, everything about Tucker changed it seemed. His size went from skinny to buff to low-key chubby. His demeanor went from goofy to quiet, and in all honesty, he reminds me of one of my uncles at this point. And not the hilarious one you want to sit by at Thanksgiving dinner…I haven’t heard him crack a joke or even giggle for real in a long time.

Only Tucker knows what really pushed him to step outside of the limelight, though it’s said that he became a born-again Christian in the late ’90s. So maybe the film roles he was getting for a while there were a little too negative for his liking as someone trying to walk in a more positive light. And I’m not saying I need this man to get on stage and curse or shuck and jive to get a laugh out of me. But as an entertainer I’ve only seen on-screen four times since 2001, I don’t know what to expect, and I can’t say I’m that excited by that. Maybe because I literally feel my stomach turning when funny people aren’t funny live on television. Our readers definitely seem to be excited though, so that’s a good sign, and who knows, he could still have mad jokes. And in all honesty, it’s the BET Awards. As long as Bow Wow and the co-hosts of 106 & Park aren’t hosting, I’ll make it. And after Samuel Jackson did a random impersonation of Jay-Z with Spike Lee as Kanye last year, there’s not very much a man can do wrong to follow that. As the ads for the event say, “Anything can happen!” and that’s true. So I won’t pull out the gong and call The Sandman just yet…


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