Although Katt Williams makes us laugh in films like The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2 and with such TV roles as his Emmy-winning appearance in the “Alligator Man” episode of Atlanta, he is most brilliant on stage. While seeing him live is always best, his comedy specials rarely disappoint. But they aren’t as plentiful as they should be. Katt Williams: Great America premiered on Netflix back in 2018, over four years ago. His latest special, Katt Williams: World War III, began trending immediately when it dropped on Netflix.
Recently, EBONY caught up with the brilliant comedian to chat about him directing himself in his latest special, what he’s like as a grandfather and his response to that popular meme featuring him.
EBONY: How did you enjoy directing yourself? Was Katt a good person to direct?
Katt Williams: No, awful. I think if I get some better talent, I'll be a much better director. I was trying to make him look tall on the screen and really direct his movements and the blocking but (sigh) he's destined to be a short comedian his whole life, I guess. But we were able to pull the real essence out of him and enough things went awry on the filming that made it real life and real action. You know how generally you have a pristine set, and nothing interrupts it? We did not have that in Vegas. It was live because Vegas is live. So, this was a one-shoot opportunity. And, so, it had all of the elements of real stand-up comedy being captured while being delivered. That was great as a director to be on that end of things. And he's actually a joy to work with, that Katt Williams. I would recommend it to anybody.
During your Netflix Is A Joke Special interview with Arsenio Hall, you said you named the special months before the war in Ukraine. How are you always in tune with what’s going on politically?
Nine and a half months to be exact. There are circumstances that keep presenting themselves. I think this is why we study history the way that we do is because we understand that anything that has happened before is able to happen again. And although the people and the circumstances and whatnot may change, the things that are relatable, the comparisons, those will continue, which is why all these years later we still have the same Declaration of Independence and the same Quran and the same Bible being read around the globe. Certain things are bigger than time itself. And, when you study those things, you can see what the components are that make that next thing happen.
There is a lot of conversation about comedians being under attack. Do you think that's true?
Comedians aren’t under attack, freedom of speech is under attack as it has been for a good time now. Comedy is the ability to say those things that are not often said. So it's a fine line in between. And [there are] people working diligently to make sure that certain things don't go as usual. And their goal is to disrupt and to make different things happen. And things that you think are guaranteed rights, they're working hard to remove those rights from you. And if they need to have somebody storm a stage in order to push that narrative, they’re not beyond that in any way, shape, form or fashion.
You’re a grandfather now. Who is Paw Paw Katt Williams?
You’d have to ask those four ladies. I don’t know. I think they see me as kind of like a real-life cartoon. Like they know me because there's so many examples of me out there, but it’s still kind of a secret because they know the real guy. And the real guy is kind of nothing like that. Whatever it is that I'm on stage or when I'm presenting the arts, that guy doesn't really exist in the other frames of the Katt Williams movie. He's only like that under those circumstances. And, without those circumstances, he's a whole different guy. It's nice because grandkids are already accustomed to being spoiled and loved hard. And I think grandparents relish that opportunity just because, as a parent going in, you think you're going to do things so much better than everybody else who parented before you. Then you get the job, and you realize that parenting isn’t even like that. You have very, very little control as to what goes on. You just do the best you can. And by the time you're a grandparent, you understand that really love trumps everything. And there's not really anything else you could give anybody except as much love as you possibly can, I think.
What were your thoughts on the meme asking folks what two comedians they would pick to save them from being roasted and many of them responded that all they needed was you, Katt?
I don't think I ever felt that proud because the people that were saying my name were saying it like they really knew that if somebody was messing with them, they could call me, and I would be there for them. And comedically, that's probably the best feeling in the world, to be a superhero.
Some questions and answers have been condensed for brevity and clarity.