Source: Marisa Guthrie / The Hollywood Reporter
Steve Harvey commands a room with the natural grace of a Southern Baptist preacher — though he’s a product of a Midwestern Rust Belt upbringing. It is mid-September, early in the run of his daytime talk show, and the comedian, best-selling author and dispenser of advice to the relationship-impaired is holding forth before an audience in his second-floor studio in Chicago’s NBC Tower.
“My mother was a Sunday school teacher,” he tells the rapt audience of about 160 people, there to bask in the firm-but-loving aura of Steve Harvey. “So I am a byproduct of prayer. My mom just kept on praying for her son. My mom passed, so she didn’t get to see this. This show is about empowering people. But it’s also entertainment. Because look, you’ve got enough problems. CNN, Headline News, Fox News — they give you the bad news. I don’t have none of that fer ya. We gonna laugh at some stuff, we gonna tackle some issues. But listen, everything ain’t life or death.”
The TV studio is on the same floor where he now tapes his nationally syndicated Clear Channel radio show that pulls in more than 6 million listeners. For Harvey, the sight before him — an audience, cheering for him, on his own show — is one that the 56-year-old methodically has worked toward for nearly 30 years since giving up a dead-end job at the Ford plant in Cleveland and setting off on a quixotic quest to become a professional funnyman.
“So far, so good. Ratings are really good,” continues Harvey as the audience begins to cheer. “The network is happy, so that means, you know, we keep working. Keeps the checks coming.”
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