On a late November nightof last year, Katt Williams, the son of an ex–Black Panther, and a comic known mostly to MTV’s hip-hop audience, saunters onto the Gibson Amphitheatre stage at 2 a.m. for the first night of consecutive sold-out shows and rips into what’s undoubtedly on everyone’s mind: Williams’ arrest at LAX for allegedly carrying a stolen gun just weeks prior. “They expect a nigga to walk around gunless?” he asks, grossly offended. Williams regularly trades putdowns on MTV’s sketch-comedy show Wild ’N Out. He’s appeared in sitcoms, hosted his own HBO special, The Pimp Chronicles Pt. 1, and will release a comedy/rap album featuring Ludacris, Snoop Dogg and Cam’ron this summer. And he was recently seen in the film Norbit playing Retired Pimp No. 2, “Lord Have Mercy,” who helps chubby-chaser Eddie Murphy ditch his obese wife.
All this pimpin’ posturing isn’t so much black man’s bravado as it is Williams’ bug-eyed Don Knotts–meets–Chris Rock alter ego, done in Williams’ trademark weasely, high-pitched delivery. And every Williams show revolves around staple Williams topics, including weed (“Aspirin is perfectly legal, but if you take 13 of those motherfuckers it’ll be your last headache”); false thuggery (“I’ve been shot and ain’t no music play, ain’t no bitches come out”); weed’s side effects (“Happy, hungry, sleepy”); prejudices against short people (“Ain’t no marches, no parades, Jesse Jackson don’t show up”); and smoking weed with Snoop Dogg’s posse (“We looked like an Olympic track meet”). While he was on tour, we caught up with Williams, who had the distinction of having his native Cincinnati proclaim September 24 Katt Williams Day, which, we assume, means relaxed weed laws.
KATT WILLIAMS:Stay ’way from people of color for the next 16 years, or move to Beirut.
What do you consider your greatest career highs and lows?
The greatest career high is the fact that if I don’t want to work tomorrow, I don’t have to. The greatest career low was the desperation in the industry that caused me to sign a long-term contract with a management firm that thought their toupees were smarter than me.
How has pot affected the quality of your life?
In order for me to relax enough to write comedic routines, it takes me three and a half hours. With weed in my system, it takes me approximately three and a half minutes.
What’s the craziest pot-induced binge or episode you’ve ever experienced?
Weed makes people paranoid, and I was in the house one time steadily thinking there was someone else in the house following me around. Come to find out I was just looking in the mirror. I was also high a few years back when I was watching the spaceship blow up on CNN. The network tends to replay news items repeatedly throughout the day, so I’m thinking there are multiple spaceships blowing up and I’m trying to figure out why they keep sending them up there.
What’s the worst pre-standup job you’ve ever had?
Working at the circus selling stuffed animals to people who played the games.
You’ve adopted seven children. What do you think of celebs like Angelina Jolie and Madonna recently adopting kids from Africa?
I have my own African tribe of children, so I can relate. It’s cool they are about children and want to adopt, but there are kids right here in our own city who deserve to be adopted as well. I don’t understand why they necessarily have to travel as far as Africa.
Do you find many differences performing for a predominantly black audience as opposed to a white one?
White audiences allow you the time to set up your joke, deliver the punch line, etc. Black audiences, on the other hand, just want the joke immediately without any wait time. They make a decision that you’re either funny or not right away.
I wouldn’t spend a penny on Michael Jackson. We supported Michael throughout his entire career. We bought all his albums and attended his concerts even when we became cognizant that he was physically changing himself into a white woman.