Performing at a sold out MGM Grand, Las Vegas August 2, 2012, legendary comedian-turned-author, actor, and all-around media conglomerate Steve Harvey called it quits -- from live stand-up performances.
Harvey, who has enjoyed a highly successful show business career for nearly 30 years, retired from the thing that brought him fame -- stand-up. During his self-proclaimed final stand-up comedy show, Harvey hit us with what has been his M.O. since his early days -- Leaving Everything Funny On The Stage. True to his lengthy run as one of the nation's most beloved comics, Harvey under-scored his wild romp around comedic bits with some themes that have always managed to come through loud and clear -- themes that speak to the passions of a man who may be a comic, but is certainly no joke.
From informing his swan song audience that "cussin' started with Moses," to boldly offering plain-speak about ways to make the alleged triggerman behind the Colorado shooting massacre who now claims amnesia to remember his actions -- via the formation of an "A$$-Whuppin' committee" -- Harvey did in his final stand-up show what Harvey has always done: make people laugh, cry and shake the cobwebs off their brains in order to wrestle with the more serious issues of our times.
Harvey, author of the national best-selling book-turned-movie, Act Like a Woman, Think Like a Man, shared that he wrote the book as advice for his daughters. Harvey has been giving straight talk advice to his audience for 27-years -- and not only advice on relationships.
One of Harvey's recurring themes has been living an honest and sincere life of faith. Never professing to be perfect -- "Being a Christian is hard; they got too many rules -- on a good day I get seven out of ten." Harvey has always challenged his audience members to treat others the way they themselves want to be treated -- even while taking the time to laugh about those church seniors who come to service after more than 8 months on the sick and shut in list to sing in the choir. The MGM roared with laughter as he asked, "Why at 95 do they still have to read out of the hymn book, they should know the songs by now?"
"Always encourage your kids; I don't care what kind of crazy ideas they come home with," said Harvey, serious as a heart attack, while somehow finding a way to make people laugh at the painful moment in his own childhood when a teacher belittled Harvey's own crazy dream of one day being on TV.
Harvey revealed that it was the support of his father during that incident that made all the difference in the world. Thus, it stands to reason that one of Harvey's recurring refrains during his three decades worth of shows has been a call for parents to be parents. Harvey's life off stage reflects this same commitment in a multiplicity of ways, not the least of which is his legendary work with mentoring programs across the U.S. And from that, and other such work, Harvey will still be going full speed ahead. Just don't expect to see him on stage live, cracking jokes.
With the feel of a long goodbye, Harvey told his MGM Grand audience, "People ask, 'Where do you get this stuff from?' I let them know, I just report the news." And report the news he has -- whether it's sharing stories about personal family issues or old childhood friends like "Ug," or providing side-splitting, behind-the-scenes insights about hosting the game show Family Feud. Harvey also reflected on and thanked those persons who have been by his side in various capacities throughout his lengthy stint in the limelight.
"Seeing him up there was nostalgic," said Brandi Harvey, commenting on her father's last show. "I can remember as a child going to see him; my sister and I use to watch my dad perform live, the ups and downs, before he became such a success."
"People ask me if he is really finished with stand-up. For the most part, he is done when he says he is done. My father is going to be on a different stage via Family Freud, his new talk show, and of course, fans can still enjoy him on his nationally syndicated radio show," said the proud daughter.
Thus, through it all -- his final live stand-up performance and his entire career, Harvey's audiences could feel his sincere love of children, his appreciation for the opportunities he has been afforded, the hard work he put forth to take advantage of those opportunities, and his undying belief that we as a society can do and be so much better.
"I just want to thank everybody for 27 years of love and support and God willing I'll do 27 more, it just won't be at this. But I really just want to thank everyone!", Steve expressed at the close of his last performance.
Harvey will certainly be around in many other shapes and forms. When fans take in a show at comedy stages around the country and wonder where the humor with heart went, they will remember that the great Steve Harvey, one of the original kings of comedy, rocked his last live MIC, August 2, 2012, Las Vegas, Nevada; and he will be missed.
Steve Harvey Photo Credit: Lavan Anderson
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