Chris Tucker Live

It's Chris Tucker...and it's live.

By Louis Balzani
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  • You’re a Chris Tucker fan.

I’ll admit it – I really like Chris Tucker. The original Rush Hour is one of my favorite films of all time, and it’s mostly because of Tucker’s dynamic presence. Though hugely popular in the 90’s and early 2000’s, the comedian more or less dropped off the map as of late, so you can imagine my surprise when I found his brand-new stand-up special on Netflix one afternoon. Simply titled Chris Tucker Live, it really is just that – Tucker on a stage with a microphone, telling stories and cracking wise. How much you’ll appreciate the special hinges entirely on how much you like Tucker as a comedian, as the material at hand simply isn’t strong enough for unfamiliar or more demanding viewers.

Chris Tucker Live primarily focuses on stories from the comedian’s family life and wild celebrity antics, which works out to its benefit because that material proves much stronger than more traditional stand-up fare; Tucker’s take on marriage and relationships, for example, mostly falls flat. When the set turns to his bountiful memories of Michael Jackson or some curious snapshots of his childhood, the special picks up some steam and offers a humanizing look at a comedian who’s been awash with celebrity status in the public eye.

Tucker gets lots of mileage out of signature energetic delivery. His eyes go wide, he yells – everything you’d expect to see is here. His natural cadence is tied so closely to the characters he’s played that, at times, it felt like Detective Carter jumped right out of Rush Hour and onto the stage, which is great for fans like me. That said, the special might lean on that energy a little too hard; sometimes, Tucker will wring out laughs simply because he yelled and flailed around. In addition, he occasionally stretches jokes and reactions out a fair bit past their expiration date, which may grate on those who simply want him to continue the set. Every so often, though, the extended jokes and tangental deviations do land, and when they do, they show Tucker’s vibrant storytelling at its best.

Ultimately, though, there isn’t much to recommend if you don’t already harbor some goodwill toward the comedian. The broader stand-up material often isn’t very original or insightful, and if you’re not a fan, you likely won’t care about his personal stories. Chris Tucker Live is a healthy reminder of why he rose to fame in the first place, but for some, that just won’t be enough. It’s worth a look if you have some vested interest, but there’s better stand-up specials on Netflix, so adjust your binging time accordingly.