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Steve Harvey, Kirk Franklin team up for Comedy-Gospel tour


By Shelia M. Poole


Atlanta, GA — It could have been one of the entertainment industry’s ‘Have your people call my people’ moments.


Instead, a chance meeting between comedian Steve Harvey and gospel performer Kirk Franklin at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans last year has turned into multi-city tour that kicks off at Philips Arena on Saturday. The billing may leave fans of both scratching their heads.


“You know what, it’s an odd pairing,” admitted Harvey, who also hosts a popular radio show and has written two best-selling relationship books.  “You’ve had comedians who have been in gospel shows but you’ve never had this large of a gospel star on a show with a well-known stand up comic. Kirk and I both think it’s an honor to be working with the other and I think that’s kinda cool.”


Grammy winner Franklin could not be reached for an interview, but in a release he said hopes the “Steve Harvey and  Kirk Franklin Comedy Gospel Tour” will bring “people hope and laughter in what for many are difficult times.  Steve brings the jokes and I bring that Jesus!”


So how will Harvey go over with the church crowd? He said he plans to work hard to keep his routine profanity free.


Is he worried the Big Guy might be watching?


“Oh, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be watching me,” said Harvey. “I’m not sure I’m going to make it all the way. I’m a Christian and I’m in the process. I’m still being processed. I’m aware of that and Kirk is aware of that. To be as funny as you can be you gotta be free and sometimes in that freedom, man, some things may come out.”


Harvey said he has written a comedy bit for Christians about cussing that he plans to use during the show.


He has no problem discussing his faith.


“I’m a Christian and I love God and he loves me,” said Harvey, who now lives in Sandy Springs. “He knows I have a few shortcomings.”


He doesn’t consider himself religious in the sense “I’m not stuck on that religion thing — not in the least bit. I have friends who work with me who are Muslims, Jews and Nation of  Islam Muslims. Am I religious? No, I’m not. Am I a Christian? Yeah. Do I have a faith? Yeah. Do I try to be the best person I possibly can? Yeah.”


The tour comes as Harvey’s career is going full blast. Harvey began doing stand-up in the mid-1980s.  That eventually led to several TV show and movie deals. His “The Steve Harvey Show” ran for six seasons.


Currently, Harvey hosts the long-running syndicated game show “Family Feud” and recently released his second relationship book “Straight Talk, No Chaser:  How to Find, Keep, and Understand a Man.”


In the book, Harvey delves into the male mindset and gives women his insight into how men think.


For instance, when a woman is trying to get the truth from a man, she has to realize that men answer questions on three different levels, he says: The first is what the woman wants to hear. A woman needs to rephrase the question later. That answer will be what he thinks makes him look the best. The woman who comes back and at the question yet another way will get the truth.


Harvey says most women stop at the second level.


He also runs a mentoring program.


He  launched “The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men”,  a camp for fatherless teenage boys from around the country, to share insights and skills to navigate manhood. The program hosts about 100 teens each year in Dallas. He hopes to have the program in Atlanta as well. Harvey said he is talking with city officials about buying a sizeable piece of land for a camp here.


The program gives the young men “a snapshot of what manhood really looks like,” he said. It’s not “having chains around your neck, some rims and a girl in the background shaking her behind. We’ve got to get rid of that (mindset). Real men go to church. Real men respect women. Real men respect God. Real men go to work every day. “

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