He told Seattle television station last week that his life as a comic, was over. “I’m just going to go ahead and announce my retirement from stand-up. I’m kind of done,” Williams said, rocking a Kurt Cobain t-shirt and snowboard goggles. “I’ve already discussed it with my kids. I wasn’t really going to do it on a Seattle street. I was going to go to Los Angeles, and do it in the offices of [talent agency] ICM or [concert promoter] Live Nation.”
His management promptly reversed that decision four days later, insisting that his current tour was still very much on. His management team told TMZ that “the reason why he made remarks was due to him feeling totally disrespected by all the things that happen to him in the city of Seattle. He had a moment where he felt very unappreciated. He now just wants to move forward from those unfortunate events and give his fans outstanding shows from this point forward.”
The life of a stand-up comedian is not easy. Making a living on stage, in front of the world, means constantly being in the spotlight. Indeed, almost every famous funnyman has found himself in period of personal public decline.
But I can’t laugh at his jokes anymore. I never really did, mainly because his whole approach was too vulgar for my taste, but I definitely can’t now. The man needs help. And as a father of eight, for the sake of his family, I hope he can find it somewhere.
Snoop Lion, when approached by TMZ had some pretty clear words for Williams. “Somebody needs to really sit him down and get him some help,” Snoop said. “I’m his friend. I can’t clown or laugh. I really want to see him get some help before it goes too far. Whoever really got love for Katt that’s around him, y’all need to take him to get some help.”
Williams’s act has always revolved around pimping. His stage persona of drug use, sexual proclivities and racial observation has come to define who most people think he is. But his latest antics have seen art imitating life a bit too closely.
I hope Williams can find a way to deal with his issues, because with his penchant for violence, I fear the consequences of actions. It’s too easy to laugh when a comedian is in a psychological space that most of us are not familiar with.
When Dave Chappelle walked away from his Comedy Central show and spent time in South Africa, people sat back and laughed at him. He was smart enough to leave the country before he potentially unraveled.
But Williams is unraveling now, right before our eyes. And it reminds me of an episode of the television cartoon show Black Dynamite. In the episode, a fictionalized version of comic genius Richard Pryor complains that no one takes him seriously. All anyone does is laugh, no matter what he may say. At one point, Dynamite interjects and booms “Shut the [expletive] up when grown mens is crying!”
And while Pryor’s issues were their own monster, I think the point remains. It’s not time to laugh at or with Katt Williams. This man is out here practically begging for someone to come to his aide.
Let’s not put aside the fact that Suge Knight has been managing Williams on tour. That guy is not exactly a great influence. The former Death Row Records CEO, known for his intimidating style and violent past, is not someone Williams needs around him on a regular basis.
Katt’s management company is doing him a disservice if they don’t end the tour and get him to the nearest available facility. Yes, he does have to make a living, but right now, he’s on a destructive path. Which is not funny at all.
Yates is a columnist for The RootDC.