Movie star comedians of a certain age seem to share some identifying traits. They either surprise people by turning up in a dramatic movie or TV drama, or make their stand-up less about life in general and more about their own.
Chris Tucker has both boxes checked.
In last year’s Netflix stand-up special, the 44-year-old talked about everything from a humanitarian trip to Africa with Bill Clinton to his own tax troubles, and how an uncle was among those who expected his “Rush Hour” money to embrace the trickle-down theory.
And Tucker follows his supporting role in “Silver Linings Playbook” with the upcoming “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” director Ang Lee’s adaptation of the novel about Iraq War veterans.
But the 44-year-old devoted more of his recent years to stand-up, which brings him to the Palms on Saturday.
“In stand-up you can talk about stuff that nobody else can talk about,” he says. “You can talk about yourself … . There’s no other format you can do that in.
“I just love getting better,” he says of touring for most of the past four years. “It’s just a desire to get better. And finding new things to talk about, digging deep. Things that’s happened in my life, how my life changed.
“That’s just who I am. I started out doing stand-up comedy and that took me to the movies. So I’m just loving just getting better and better at it.”
Since his stand-up also includes impressions of Clinton, Donald Trump and even Bernie Sanders, it seems like Tucker might have some improv or sketch comedy in his background.
But no, “my acting skills came from stand-up,” he says. “Acting stuff out on the stage.”
He cut his teeth at the Atlanta Comedy Theater. “It’s like the mecca of black comedy,” with a legacy that includes Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx and the Wayans brothers. “They started one in Atlanta in 1990 and that’s the first professional club I went to,” before moving to Los Angeles.
Tucker was appearing on stand-up showcases such as Def Comedy Jam by the time he was 20. But it was the “Friday” movie that put him on the map in 1995, paving the way to his most famous role in “Rush Hour” and its two sequels.
If it seems strange that Ang Lee cast him in “Billy Lynn’s,” Tucker notes that he made the crime drama “Dead Presidents” the same year as “Friday.”
“I feel like I could do any type of movie if it was presented to me,” he says. “But now, I think as I got older there’s a lot more things I’m interested in … . We definitely all change.”
He’s glad “Billy Lynn’s” will deal with veterans and post-traumatic stress syndrome, perhaps shedding light and sympathy on them the same way “Silver Linings” did for mental health issues.
“I like it because I’ve bumped into guys in the airport, young kids coming back from Iraq and all over, talking with them. They were nice kids. I just really appreciate what they were doing for us and the country.”
Read more from Mike Weatherford at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.
Who: Chris Tucker
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Pearl at the Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road
Tickets: $50-$100 (702-944-3200)