Steve Harvey wakes up every morning at 4. He showers, eats a piece of fruit, grabs some coffee and immediately goes to studio to record his radio show from 5-9 a.m.
By 9:30 he’s in a post-production meeting and then segues to another board meeting for his daytime talk show, “Steve Harvey,” which swept February ratings in the coveted 25-54 age group for women.
Harvey tapes that show until 12:45 p.m., takes a 20- to 30-minute break, goes back to taping, attends a few more meetings, goes to the gym, and then retires to bed.
This cycle repeats five days a week from late August until the beginning of May. During his talkshow hiatus, Harvey handles gameshow hosts duties for “Family Feud,” which recently pulled ahead of “Wheel of Fortune” in the 25-54 women’s age demographic for the first time in years.
“I won’t lie to you, I don’t know anything that’s successful that’s easy — it’s a bit much,” the multihyphenate says. “But at the same time, it’s such an honor to do what you want to do for a living.”
The prolific comedian sounded exhausted but nonetheless gratified, and soon he’ll have another thing to be thankful for: a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Harvey has created his own veritable one-man empire, with successes in film, daytime television, publishing and radio, by simply challenging himself.
“I just always wanted to keep evolving and reinventing myself,” he says. “Most people get stuck on one idea and you can miss out on a lot of opportunities … but everything is centered around my comedy.”
Harvey began his career in stand-up, generating enough notice that he was asked to host TV’s “It’s Showtime at the Apollo.” In 1997 he toured with D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer and the late Bernie Mac as one of the Original Kings of Comedy. Their final show was filmed by Spike Lee, and underscored the range of Harvey’s capabilities.
“With his flat-top fade haircut now trimmed so it’s no longer within range of air-traffic control, Mr. Harvey unleashes a shotgun splatter of profanity,” wrote A.O. Scott in the New York Times, adding, “It may shock audiences who know him only from “The Steve Harvey Show,” where he plays Steve Hightower, rhythm-and-blues star turned teacher.”
Much of Harvey’s humor, and by extension his success, stems from his interpersonal relationships with his viewers and listeners, particularly when it comes to love and relationship advice. From his “Strawberry Letter” segment on the “Steve Harvey Morning Show,” to the “Ask Steve” stand-up portion of his daytime talkshow, to conversations with his adult daughters, Harvey tapped into his knowledge of the male psyche.
“When I helped my daughters when they were at a dating age, I gave them a lot of advice and they said, ‘Well that ought to be a book, my friends need to hear this,’ ” Harvey says. After talking to women of all ages and experiences who had questions about how men think, Harvey began the process of writing his first self-help book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment.” The 2009 New York Times best-seller turned into a movie “Think Like a Man,” which topped the box office when it opened April 20, 2012, and ended “The Hunger Games” reign, and went on to gross more than $90 million domestically.
While Harvey doles out advice, he claims that having a sense of humor is something that cannot simply be learned or acquired over time.
“You can’t just develop a sense of humor … you have to be born with it and develop a viewpoint that’s attractive to people,” he says.
Having retired from stand-up in August, Harvey hopes to write another book, but feels that his true calling might be as a motivational speaker.
“I see myself as a sharer by nature,” he says. “I believe in trying to help as many people as I can, because there have been many people who have helped me in my journey, and I have to remember to pay it forward.”
It seems no matter what medium Harvey engages in, he speaks his mind, and — based on his success — people are eager to listen, and maybe even laugh.