Chris Tucker has a habit of disappearing for long stretches and resurfacing to remind you just how much you missed him, only to steal away again.
Brett Ratner once estimated the “Rush Hour” funny man turned down nearly $100 million worth of projects. “It’s probably about that much,” Tucker told the Interrobang comedy podcast. “But I’ve got $100 million of great experiences.”
This time, he’s back with his first full-length stand-up special, “Chris Tucker: Live,” which debuted on Netflix Friday. And it seems we won’t have to wait quite so long for the next Tucker movie; he’s working now with director Ang Lee on “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” after turning in an impressive performance in “Silver Linings Playbook” in 2012.
While another “Friday” movie is highly unlikely, Tucker has told reporters that he and his “Rush Hour” co-star Jackie Chan may reunite for another movie, possibly “Rush Hour 4” or something altogether different. Tucker got $25 million just to do “Rush Hour 3” in 2007.
In the special, Tucker, who filmed at the Historic Fox Theatre in his home town of Atlanta, addresses some of the low points in his career, like, say, when TMZ reported that he was $12 million in debt to the IRS. Tucker uses the opportunity to take some deep dives into the stories of his life from money issues, to church, to traveling to Africa with his friend, former President Bill Clinton.
Here are some of the most compelling topics from Tucker’s new special:
In 2012, TMZ reported Tucker owed some $12 million in back taxes, a figure his representative told CNN was incorrect. The IRS issued a $2.5 million tax lien against him, and Tucker settled with the government in 2014.
“Marriage sometimes ain’t a good business deal,” Tucker said. “... I don’t care nothin’ about fine. You gotta be more than fine. You gotta be able to do some other stuff. You gotta be able to fill out a (Form) 1099. You gotta help me out with my taxes. You gotta have an accounting degree to be with me.
“Take care of your business, man, and don’t listen to people. Do your own business. Be careful who you listen to, ’cause that’s the last time I let Wesley Snipes help me out with my taxes!”
Later, Tucker tells the crowd that he, Toni Braxton and Jermaine Dupree are getting an apartment together and that Terrell Owens is moving in, too.
Still, it would appear Tucker’s money woes aren’t completely resolved. Days before “Live” premiered, comedian Terry Hodges filed a lawsuit alleging that Tucker had stiffed him for $66,000 worth of writing and editing work. He alleged Tucker also promised him a co-producer credit on the special.
One of the most persistent rumors about Tucker is that his long breaks in between projects can be attributed to a newfound cultural conservatism after Tucker became a born-again Christian. But the still-single Tucker speaks quite frankly in “Live” about sex, and he definitely spends a great deal of time talking about how he used to cut up in church as a kid. He doesn’t address the born-again rumors head on, but fans needn’t worry that his comedy has turned prudish – far from it.
He sprints and jetes about the stage as he’s making fun of people who just start screaming in church for no reason, and he laments his childhood church’s lack of air conditioning.
“Church be hot,” Tucker said. “You don’t care. Church be so hot even the flies leave.” Tucker pantomimed wings and bobbed his head, impersonating the flies. “We going to a white church. It’s too hot in here. Come on, let’s get out of here. Zzzzzz!”
A Jackson fanatic
Tucker is an excellent impersonator, a talent that even made him a favorite of Clinton’s, whom he imitated repeatedly at the former president’s behest while the two were traveling through Africa together. But perhaps more than anyone else, he’s an eerily flawless mimic of the late King of Pop – and not just his voice, but his dance moves, too.
Tucker indulges his audience with some old material and some new – he told his jokes about how Jackson enjoyed the music of Rick Ross and 50 Cent when he hosted the BET Awards in 2013. The two men would ride around in Jackson’s car, and Jackson would start rapping along to “In Da Club” in his trademark soft-spoken falsetto.
Tucker also talked about his experience on the set of the “You Rock My World” music video. He would screw up shots because he was supposed to be dancing and he couldn’t stop watching Jackson. Apparently Jackson decided one day to start calling Tucker “Christmas.”
Tucker recalled visiting Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, and yes, he took the train to Jackson’s front door. Jackson would be sitting in his living room, Tucker said, like Michael Corleone.
“You’d be sitting there talking, all of a sudden, something magical would happen, like two giraffes walking by the window,” Tucker said. “You’d be like, ‘What the (expletive) was that? Michael, was that two giraffes just walked by the window?’ ”
And Jackson would answer, as if giraffes in one’s front yard was a perfectly everyday occurrence:
“ ‘It was three. It was three giraffes, Chris.’ ”