However, that night he met Steve Harvey. While Steve Harvey was in town, he mentored Williams. Steve Harvey takes Williams to the mall, and shows him how to dress. He advises Williams to dress like you are going to work. He watches Williams’ sets, and gives him notes and suggestions. The short comedic incubator week with Steve Harvey kick starts his comedy career.
Williams continues to work on his sets, and studies great comedians from the era of Red Fox and Richard Prior. He empathizes with the same pastor-destressing effect that earlier comedians had on black audiences during that period.
“I was really a student of the earlier comedians. They had to make people laugh at a time the nation was undergoing a facelift in terms of racial equality. To be able to make people laugh during those times was inspiring to me.”
While attending Alabama State University, a professor introduces him to a manager. The manager encourages Williams to immediately leave for Los Angeles. With a class away from graduation, he left to Los Angeles in 1995.
He arrives in Los Angeles, and just in two months he lands a role in the film Nutty Professor in the famous scene as the host of the comedy club that roasts Professor Clump (Eddie Murphy).
“Once I saw I can make money from comedy. I saw that I can earn money from something I love to do. I did it for free for so many years. I had the passion for it. This was my calling I felt.”
He’s able to fill up his calendar with gigs and performs on numerous television shows from BET’s Comic View to Showtime at the Apollo.
Currently, he is the ambassador for the urban movie channel where comedy lovers can stream hours of comedy specials like Martin Lawrence Presents: 1st Amendment Stand-Up.
Bob Johnson, who created niche black programing for television takes the concept to the web. The urban movie channel (UMC) is a streaming subscription platform much like Netflix or Hulu. However, the programming tailors to urban audiences.
Streaming services have revitalized careers for series that didn’t quite make the ratings needed for television. However, the series worked well on stream services as binge watchers divulge into marathon consumption. UMC has over 150 titles in the library, and plans to produce original programing.
“This is a new place where we can go and take our projects. We’re not always able to get our stuff on primetime networks. A lot of times when you pitch a project, it is not that they don’t find it interesting or good. It’s just they don’t get it. Here you can bring programs or movies to people who understand it. It’s a whole new outlet to get your material out. To me that’s priceless.”
Success can be measured various ways. Some men measure success on the values of tangible items – house, car, clothes, or gadgets. Other men measure on status or power. For Williams, success is simple. Success is having a career you love.
“What I’ve learned. True success is being happy at what you are doing, and able to make a living doing it. I’m proud that I was able to make thousands of thousands of people laugh, people happy, and in doing so was able to take care of my wife and kids. That type of success goes unnoticed.”