– Well, I was 27 when I got into comedy. I won amateur night on October 8th, 1985. I won $50, cried all the way home. – [Woman] Oh my God! – Because I couldn’t believe I had won this $50. And this girl I was riding with, she said, “Why you crying? It ain’t nothing but $50.” I said, “No, you don’t understand. “I was born tonight. “I’m gonna go do this the rest of my life.” She said, “You won $50, “and you gonna go do it the rest of your life?” I said, “I been talking to God my whole life “about what he want me to do, this it.” I went to work October 9th, the next day, and quit my job. (group applauding) With $50. – [Woman] Good for you! – I jumped immediately. But it lead to a lot of catastrophes with that decision. – [Woman] Oh, okay. –
It ended up homeless. I think being homeless kind of turned my life around. ‘Cause all the stuff my mother taught me as a Sunday school teacher, that I wasn’t listen to, I was hearing loud and clear. ‘Cause he had my undivided attention. God broke me down to get my attention. ‘Cause all I had was him. ‘Cause I had nothing else.
I had no car, I had no money, I had no house. So I’m sitting up in hell, man, I’m just, phew, I was paying real close attention to all the messages my momma had gave me over the years. I started reading the Bible again, started really understanding that I needed some help here. Took three years of homelessness, and in a couple of the bad decisions, got it together, probably about, I bought my first car when I was 38 years old. First car I ever owned in my name. Bought a car when I was 38. Messed around, got a phone call from the Apollo.
Got on TV at 38. Been on TV ever since. – [Woman] Did your mom see your success? – Yes, see, you gonna make me cry, boy, I don’t feel like that. – [Woman] I’m sorry! I just wondered? – That was one of the great things about it. She was able to see me, you know? Because I wanted her to see me, you know? Because she had prayed for me so hard. I just wanted her to see her boy turn himself into something. I gave ’em money, bought ’em houses, cars.
I bought my momma a house, took her to Texas, she didn’t even want the house. “How I’m gonna go to church down here?” She didn’t want the house, because it was 700 miles from her church. And then my daddy didn’t want the house, because they don’t play numbers in Texas. (group laughing) And I bought the house in the dry county, and they ain’t got no liquor store. So my father is trying to figure out how I’m supposed to live. I can’t play numbers, and I can’t buy liquor. (group laughing) So I had to sell the house, get my money back, fly them back to Cleveland. So all he said, I said, “Well, Daddy, what you want me to buy you? “A new car?” And my daddy always wanted a Cadillac, so I bought my daddy a Cadillac. Remodeled my momma’s whole house. Ah, it was embarrassing. She wanted brand new walnut paneling, and brand new shag carpet. (group laughing) Who buy that (beep)? (group laughing) So that’s what I ended up doing.