Katt Williams is a comedian with a voice you can’t drown out, comedic timing you can’t deny and stage persona that falls somewhere between storefront pastor, used-car salesman and pimp.
He’s parlayed that persona into a cash cow of standup specials, breakout roles in feature films and comedy tours – like the one he’s on now.
After the success of last year’s “Conspiracy Theory” tour, Williams is back to bring both parties together in his current “Great America” tour, which stops Sunday, Feb. 12 at Columbia’s Colonial Life Arena.
We caught up with the charismatic comedian to find out why he likes to come to Columbia, how things have been going for him legally, and what it takes to make American comedy great again.
We’re sure you get this question a lot, but for those who don’t know, how did you get your start in comedy? What do you consider your big break?
Williams: I started in a place called Ruskin. It was a contest and I realized I could do comedy. “Friday After Next” would probably be considered my big break.
Who are some of your comedy idols?
Williams: Don Knotts, Bernie Mac
You always seem to include Columbia on your comedy tour schedule. What is it about Columbia – and the crowd – that keeps you coming back?
Williams: Columbia is loyal, and they are real no matter what! You don’t get that everywhere.
Are there any places you like to visit while you’re in town?
Williams: Columbia has the best soul food places! I’m trying to hit as many as I can!
Why did you name this the “Great America” tour? What can your fans expect to hear you talk about?
Williams: This is the greatest country I have ever lived in. America is great – regardless of who the president is! We are a great country and not just when things are good, but we’re a great country when things are bad. We’re still a great country when people don’t agree. Even if we have totally different opinions about things, there is a certain sincerity and a certain realness about both sides, and I don’t know if I would have seen it that way if it weren’t for this tour.
A lot has happened since you started the tour. Are you incorporating current events, like the recent presidential election, into your show? What else are you thinking about adding?
Williams: I speak about politics, police brutality, my recent struggles, and everyday encounters. It’s about how you handle it. In my circumstance, I’m nowhere near what I’m being painted as and there’s very little I can do about some of it. The best thing I can do is just not give Satan any type of injury whatsoever and to work through it like the athletes do. If you sprain your ankle, there’s no way that’s making you a better basketball player or making it easier for you. So whether it’s based on your own stupidity or not, distractions are distractions and having been in the league for this many seasons, I’m just glad that those things are behind me and I’ve cleaned up the things I needed to clean up in order to make sure that those things don’t continue.
Professionally, you’ve encountered quite a few hits and quite a few misses. Any regrets?
Williams: I regret missing! I have been doing standup for 20 years, and one of the most important things is maintaining a sense of humor and having the ability to laugh at ourselves. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I’m just fortunate that my fan base has stayed as loyal when things were great as they did when they were not. The fact that they were willing to see me at the arenas throughout the process, that’s what I’m the most thankful for.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Williams: Making sure I remember to visit Columbia!
If you go
Katt Williams: Great America Tour
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12
WHERE: Colonial Life Arena, 801 Lincoln St.
COST: Tickets start at $52.50.