Call Katt Williams what you will: provocative, pretender pimp, foul-mouthed, frenetic or just plain funny.
Comedians are known for bringing their personal demons onstage and turning them into punchlines, but if anyone has mastered that art and wrapped it up in whirlwind delivery and enough curse words to make a whole tavern of sailors blush, it’s Katt Williams.
Katt Williams was born Micah Sierra Williams in Cincinnati. He worked his way up the comedy ranks, becoming an established performer by 1999 and appearing on BET’s “Comic View.” But it wasn’t until 2006 that Williams scored his first televised special, “Katt Williams Live: Let a Playa Play,” and HBO’s “The Pimp Chronicles.” In that same year, Williams starred as himself in the film “American Hustle,” which concerned a fictionalized version of himself trying to make it in Hollywood without having to wear a fat suit and finally returning to his true love: stand-up comedy.
Williams made his acting debut on “NYPD Blue” in 2002 and later played roles in the controversial, critically acclaimed Cartoon Network show “The Boondocks” and as himself in “Grand Theft Auto IV.”
He is also well known for his roles in the Eddie Murphy comedy “Norbit” and as the leopard-print, ascot-wearing, pliers-wielding pimp Money Mike in “Friday After Next.”
No topic is off-limits for Williams, whose stand-up routines in the past have featured foul-mouthed teardowns of his friend Shaq’s misguided aspirations of sheriffhood; how his adopted daughter cries like a gangster; why he loves “Swamp People” despite the fact that every episode is the same; how many jellyfish stings it takes to get a white woman out of the ocean; and just how embarrassing it is to wipe out on your motorcycle in full view of your own tour bus full of staff.
He delivers all these jokes with a breathless, sweaty aggression, occasionally riding his stool like a surfboard, a crocodile or something a little raunchier.
The larger-than-life figure that Williams puts onstage is not so much an act as it is an extension of his personal life. Being the father of seven adopted children hasn’t kept Williams from near-constant run-ins with the law and sometimes even audience members.
He’s been charged with burglary, assault and driving in a reckless manner. After an altercation in a Seattle bar, Williams announced his retirement from stand-up, only to take it back a few days later, and during one particularly wild set, Williams leapt offstage to confront a heckler. Police and Williams’ security personnel had to intervene to prevent an all-out brawl.
In Williams’ latest stand-up special, the Spike Lee-directed “Priceless,” he constantly reminds the audience of the importance of being able to laugh at yourself, and it’s clear that he takes his own advice. He jokes about his latest arrest, his attempts to get his life together in the aftermath and the increasingly perilous side effects of hangnail medication he’s afraid to take.
Williams never claims to be perfect, but — being “Born Again ... Again,” as the tour has it — he does do a good job bouncing back after a fall.