Steve Harvey on 'Cancel Culture' in Comedy and Why a New Stand-Up Special Would 'End My Television Career'

“If I had tried to continue as a stand-up, there’s no way I could maintain it,” the TV host/comedian said. “Political correctness has killed comedy."

Steve Harvey attends 2019 Beloved Benefit at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Image via Getty/Paras Griffin

Steve Harvey attends 2019 Beloved Benefit at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

TV host and comedian Steve Harvey has identified “cancel culture” as the reason he couldn’t “continue as a stand-up” and why he may never record another special, although he does “want to do one more.”

While promoting his new ABC series, per Variety, 64-year-old Harvey said today’s political climate makes it too difficult for him to return to the world of comedy. While he’s most known these days for hosting Family Feud among other shows, he previously led Showtime at the Apollo and released a number of stand-up specials. 

“The only way I can do one more special is if it’s at the end of my television career because it will end my television career,” said Harvey. “We’re in the cancel culture now. No stand-up that is sponsor-driven can say anything he wants to. Chris Rock can’t. Kevin Hart can’t. Cedric the Entertainer can’t. D.L. Hughley can’t. I can go down the list. The only person that can say what they want to say on stage is Dave Chappelle because he’s not sponsor-driven. He’s subscription-driven.”

Harvey’s comments come not long after Chappelle again garnered criticism for his jokes about the trans community, this time via his Netflix special The Closer. Despite the suggestion that “cancel culture” is ruining comedy, it should be noted Chappelle is set to perform at the streaming service’s comedy event Netflix Is a Joke this year. 

“If I had tried to continue as a stand-up, there’s no way I could maintain it,” Harvey continued. “Political correctness has killed comedy. Every joke you tell now, it hurts somebody’s feelings. But what people don’t understand about comedians is that a joke has to be about something. It has to be about somebody. We can’t write jokes about puppies all the time. The joke can’t be about bushes all the time. Some of these jokes will have to be about people, because that’s the most interesting topic. So if I come back, I’ll have to wait until I’m done. And I’m not done. I want to do one more. I’ll probably have to call it This Is It.”

Harvey’s family-friendly image might make it hard to imagine what cutting-edge and risqué material he’d bring to a new special. In 2017, however, he did garner criticism after he made a racist joke about Asian men on his eponymous TV show. He was called out later that year for a joke about the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

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