Last year was a rough one for Katt Williams. Though the comedy icon faced a series of legal issues throughout the year, he remained resilient. He’s emerged in the new year reinvented, focused and ready to hit the road again for his Great America tour. His first stop of 2017 brings him to Monte Carlo’s all-new Park Theater, where he’ll no doubt deliver his signature pimp talk and poignant social commentary. We caught up with Williams to talk about his new act, the state of America and how we can find our inner star player in 2017.
I know we’re only a few days in, but how’s your 2017 going?
I’m thankful to be out of 2016 like most people. I am very optimistic about 2017.
Like everyone else, your 2016 had some ups and downs. The media tends to highlight the negative stuff, so what were the positive aspects of 2016 for you?
It was an extraordinarily rough 2016 for me and a lot of people I know, but I think we got a certain numbing strength out of the fact that no matter what happened in 2016, somehow we made it through. I think we’ll carry that on for years to come—just the fact that even when it gets at its darkest points, we’re still going to wake up the next morning and greet the sun. If nothing else positive came from 2016, it was that. Change is inevitable. It doesn’t always have to be pleasant, it can be painful, but this, too, shall pass.
One of the most valuable lessons you’ve imparted on fans is helping us find our inner “star player” (from 2008’s It’s Pimpin’ Pimpin’). What advice do you have for finding our inner star player in 2017?
I think 2017 is about reinvention. We’ve seen that truly impossible things, or things that have been viewed as impossible, even those things can happen. Even if you want to look at the Trump presidency, you can draw from that that no matter what your trajectory has been in the past, that still has no bearing on what the future might hold for you. My overwhelming thing for the star player now is: allow yourself to dream big. In the past, we’ve thought if you’re this old, you can’t do that. If you’re this height, you can’t do that … We’ve got people doing miraculous things. Living on Mars is no longer a science fiction dream. Hopefully 2017 ushers in a brand new time of invention in the country and people coming up with ideas that are truly outside the box.
How are you reinventing yourself?
That’s where all of my comedy starts from. If it’s something that I’ve seen is possible, I just try to put it in action. I’m a kinder, gentler, more considerate person than I’ve been in the past. I’m eager to see where that takes me. Everybody has mistakes. It’s about finding what those mistakes are, and then the beauty of it is, finding out that once you’ve fixed things or attempt to work on them, it opens up a whole bunch of other things. I have opportunities today that I wouldn’t have had in the past because I wouldn’t have been as open or receptive to them. That’s where I’m at right now only being two or three days into 2017.
You mentioned a change in the country as well. Where do you think we’re heading as a country?
“Change” is the operative word. There’s gonna be a change and it’s pretty much up to us to make sure changes work out for the best. Our country has a long history of having presidents who weren’t as in-tune to a portion of the populus as they should have been, and still this country has continued to be great in spite of that. The thing about surprises is they don’t just work one way. I think we’re all hopeful that a Trump presidency will turn into good things. I don’t think Donald Trump, no matter what you think about him personally, I don’t think he has a plan to wreck the country. Even if we can only rely on his business acumen, I at least know that I’ve played at his golf courses and stayed at his hotels. I do know that he knows what good businesses are. I’m just hopeful that some of that reflects in America and we get the jobs and economy under control.
As far as the race issue goes, that’s not something that was going to be solved with any candidate for president. That’s basically us as the American people coming to grips with things and fixing ourselves internally.
I read that you wanted to hit 100 dates on your Conspiracy Theory tour.
We’re already 86 dates in for the Conspiracy Theory tour. We’re at the wrap up point. I initially went on that 11 months ago. This is actually going to be the start of the Great America tour.
Why the name Great America?
Conspiracy Theory was based upon the fact that I thought that a big change was coming, and I thought that somebody like a Donald Trump could sneak in and change the way things had been. It all was a bit ridiculous about 11 months ago, but that was the conspiracy theory that we were pushing. This tour is more of a celebration of the things that we’ve been through as Americans and that no matter how dark and dismal it may appear, it’s actually the American spirit that has kept things going. We have a long history of terrible times, whether it’s the destruction of the American Indians or the Great Depression or world war, and yet America still continues to thrive as a leading super power because of the thought process of its people. We fully intend to live long and prosper. As a capitalist society, a lot of that we take into our family lives that if we work harder, then things will be better. If we work longer hours, things will be better. If we decide we’re not going to work for anybody else and start our own business, all of these are important tenets that are not just in the Declaration of Independence but the declaration we make as Americans.
[The Great America tour] is a celebration of how great America is and how great America has been, since the time bread was a nickel and it seemed like that was a great time back then, [but] not realizing they were only making 25 cents a week. That loaf of bread was a major part of their income compared to where we are today, where we can spend money on the latest gadgets. America has always been a great country for somebody. The rest of it has been everybody else working as hard as they can to catch up to that American dream. It’s a little lofty, but that’s what it is.
How do you find humor in loaded topics like that?
It’s a choice. It is a fight year after year to make sure that the voice is original. There are so many great comedians out there on the road. For myself and the comedians that I’ve assembled, for us it’s really about whether or not we can say something in our show that we are certain that even if you’re a standup comedy aficionado, we want to present something that you haven’t already seen. It’s not a knock to anybody else’s brand, but our brand and specifically my brand is that I don’t want to be talking about what all the rest of the comedians talking about. There’s some risk inherent in that, but it’s really about evolving the conversation that I’ve been having with my core group for 20 years now.
What else should we expect from you in 2017?
I plan on doing a lot of projects that people wouldn’t expect me to do. That’s about as much of it as I can give away. But [expect] a lot more access to myself and a lot more television.
Jan. 7, 9 p.m., $52-$250, Park Theater at Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, parktheaterlv.com.