Katt Williams promises District audiences one helluva comedy show Saturday evening at DAR Constitution Hall in Northwest. He also promises to start as close to the 8 p.m. showtime as possible.
“We have to take positive steps toward blasting black stereotypes,” Mr. Williams told The Washington Times. “Katt Williams is on time.”
Mr. Williams has made quite a living as an energetic stand-up performer riffing on celebrity, race relations in American and marriage. He makes liberal use of the stage space in his acts, often racing about and breaking out into quite a sweat in the process.
“I’m a sports fan, so I’m used to watching my heroes … laying everything they possibly could out there,” Mr. Williams said of using the same level of energy in his often-manic performances. “All the great comics that I know, they let it all out there.”
Mr. Williams is in the District this weekend for his “Great America” tour. The Trump administration is barely 100 days old, and would seemingly provide a full quiver of arrows for comedy. However, Mr. Williams said he is keen to take a middle-of-the-road approach in his current approach to political humor.
“We need a frame of reference as to where the times are right now. That way you’re not afraid to say something positive about something you don’t like,” he said. “That’s where it doesn’t become bashing.
“Whether it’s Donald Trump and North Korea or April the Giraffe, if they affect [my audience’s] life, we can bring it to the forefront” in the act, he said.
Mr. Williams, 45, cites Martin Lawrence, Don Knotts, Richard Pryor, Steven Wright and Eddie Murphy among his influences. He was also friends with Mr. Murphy’s brother, Charlie Murphy, who died April 17.
“I learned how great the separation can be between what you do for a living and who you are,” Mr. Williams said of Murphy, whom he knew long before he became a fixture on “Chappelle’s Show,” renowned for his parody of Prince. “He was just one of the few genuine badasses that were out there.”
Murphy and Prince both died within the past year. As he often does, Mr. Williams turns the notion of those twin losses into a laugh, saying he feels he is now “trying to live in a house where somebody has taken out the bathroom, the kitchen and the front door.”
Yet the house that Mr. Williams has in fact built is incredibly loyal to his brand of comedy. He worked for years to get to where he is within the top echelon of the stand-up pantheon, and said it is crucial that any aspiring comedian must figure out what it is that makes them unique.
“Find your space — not where you agree, but where you disagree,” he said. “It’s helpful to get you to a place where they haven’t heard your voice already.
“The comics’ secret of how to do well in standup [is not] being somebody else.”
Mr. Williams came up with Jeff Foxworthy, Richard Jeni and Daniel Lawrence Whitney, who later adapted the stage name Larry the Cable Guy.
“When you love comedy you go all around,” he said of interacting with other great minds of the business.
Performing blocks away from the White House, Mr. Williams will certainly be touching on touchy subjects in his routine Saturday, with a new chief executive occupying the Executive Mansion not far away. But it is not the first time Mr. Williams and the commander in chief of the land’s destinies have crossed in unique ways.
The day after former President Barack Obama was elected Nov. 4, 2008, Mr. Williams was scheduled to appear on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” at the host’s New York’s studios at Rockefeller Center. Mr. Williams went to sleep in the back of a limo taking him into Gotham from his hotel in New Jersey, waking up to find that his driver told him they had gotten lost in Manhattan.
“At nine minutes to when I’m supposed to be [in the studio], I arrive in the lobby, and security won’t take me through the lobby to get to the elevator,” he said. “So I’m literally watching on the television what Conan is saying.”
However, Mr. Williams is philosophical about the missed connection — during which Mr. O’Brien filled the time by spinning his wedding ring atop his desk, a trick he often employed to kill time during the writer’s strike of 2007.
“That was not meant to be,” Mr. Williams said. “That was one of those few sore points where I really haven’t gotten over it.”
When asked if comedians, like rock stars, have groupies, Mr. Williams says there is in fact a showbiz hierarchy, with rockers at the top and comedians far, far down the list.
“But having sampled those for 20 years, let me say there is no one better,” Mr. Williams said. “These women are salt of the earth. That’s what makes them better than rock ‘n’ roll groupies.
“Roll ‘n’ roll groupies have a lot of baggage and don’t have real lives. A woman who loves comedy is a woman who loves the world.”
Mr. Williams says he enjoys when his travels bring him to the District, describing capital showgoers as “the smarter, quicker audience.”
“I’ve been to Washington [many times] and still don’t feel like I fully did it all,” he said. “There’s just so many things going on in D.C.”
Despite his considerable success, Mr. Williams remains philosophical about his tremendous success, saying that the “winds” of the culture can shift quickly, requiring comedians to remain sharp and fresh.
“Don’t concentrate so much on the L’s, the losses, because you have no idea” what the future may hold, he said.
Katt Williams performs Saturday at DAR Constitution Hall. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com.