ST. LOUIS • On the final dates of a tour marking his farewell to stand-up comedy, Steve Harvey is going out the way he came in: raw and uncensored.
The radio talk host and author of "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" came to the Chaifetz Arena Friday night just before the tour's Las Vegas pay-per-view wrap-up on Aug. 2. From the moment Harvey took the stage to the sounds of Usher, it was clear his fans were going to miss him. The ovation greeting him was extensive.
Right off the top, he told the crowd that God is everyting to him and he never would've made it without God. "And now that we got that out of the way . . ." he joked.
He said St. Louis was a must on his farewell tour, thanks not only to great fans and comedian Joe Torry hailing from St. Louis, but also his friendship with Cedric the Entertainer. "Without Cedric, I wouldn't be who I am," he said of his fellow "The Original Kings of Comedy" star, who also co-starred with him on "The Steve Harvey Show."
Harvey, a fine storyteller who stayed on point and hilarious throughout the 90-minute set, said when he flew into St. Louis Thursday night, the first thing he wanted was food. His limo driver took him to a Waffle House. His ruminations on the diner chain were riotous. Among them were his opinion that a person has to be unattractive with no teeth to work there; his discovery that the menu card had to be flipped over, not opened; and his imitation of the cook.
It was hard to believe he was as unfamiliar with Waffle House as he portrayed, but that didn't kill the fun.
He addressed those who question his Christianity because of his frequent cursing. He said he has tried to stop cursing, but he finds it effective, adding that substitute words don't work. And there are times, such as when a child pushing a grocery store cart runs the cart up a parent's leg, when cursing is all one can muster.
"This is the real me, what I've been doing for 27 years," he said. "That guy on 'Family Feud,' that's the other money."
Harvey also talked about different characters in church, warning women to be careful of men in the choir; discussing a horrible family on a to-be-aired "Family Feud"; and recounting his run-in at the Department of Motor Vehicles with an employee who called him selfish for opting not to donate his organs.
He also had additional advice that didn't make his "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" book, and grinned while discussing the huge, unexpected box office success of the "Think Like a Man" movie.
While talking about his humble beginnings in Cleveland, which included living in a house with 14 people, the audience audibly gasped. Harvey fired back, telling fans how dare they pass judgment. He proceeded to scream about how raggedy St. Louis and East St. Louis are, with only the Gateway Arch as a saving grace.
After his set, St. Louis Alderwoman Marlene Davis approached Harvey onstage and presented him with a civic leadership award. She asked if she could read it aloud, saying it would only take a few minutes, drawing a look of comic uncertainty from Harvey. But she proceeded as the audience chuckled.
Harvey followed up the award with a speech that began with him noting how hard it is to stop doing something that has defined him for 27 years and wrapped up with advice to fans to always put God first.
Comedian Junior, part of "The Steve Harvey Morning Show," opened with a set that varied from how expensive it is to enjoy a night out on the town to black men living their lives on the down low. He also joked about his experiences dating an overweight woman who answered her door wearing a teddy, which on her was stretched into a "theodore."
Singer Danny Clay opened with a tribute to Luther Vandross.