Steve Harvey Says He Quit Stand-Up Comedy Because Cancel Culture Would Kill His TV Career

“Judge Steve Harvey” star believes you can’t have both these days

Judge Steve Harvey

Steve Harvey has to look out for his burgeoning law career these days.

On Tuesday, Harvey told reporters that he effectively quit stand-up comedy because continuing to perform specials would “end” his highly successful TV career, which now includes courtroom show “Judge Steve Harvey” on ABC.

“The only way I can do one more special, is that it would have be to at the end of my television career, because it will end my television career,” Harvey said Tuesday during ABC’s Television Critics Association press tour. “We’re in the cancel culture, and nobody, no stand-up [comic] alive that is sponsor-driven can say anything he wants to. Chris Rock can’t, Kevin Hart can’t, Cedric the Entertainer can’t. I can go down the list. The only person that can say what they want to say is Dave Chappelle because he’s not sponsor-driven, he’s subscription-driven.”

Chappelle, who came under fire for jokes about the trans community in his recent Netflix special “The Closer,” might not *fully* agree with that. But Harvey, also the host of ABC’s “Family Feud,” can consider his point taken. The guys he named are at least somewhat reliant on advertisers, whereas Chappelle has pretty much only worked with SVOD service Netflix in recent years.

“If I had tried to continue as a stand-up, there’s no way I could maintain a TV career. Because political correctness has killed comedy. It’s killed it,” Harvey continued during the virtual press conference. “Every joke you tell now, it hurts somebody’s feelings. What people don’t understand about comedians is that a joke has to be about something. It has to be about somebody. You can’t write jokes about puppies all the time. You can’t write jokes about bushes all the time. Some of these jokes have to be about people because that’s the most interesting topic.”

“So, if I come back, I have to wait until I’m done [with TV]. And I’m not done,” Harvey said. “I want to do one more [special]. I’d have to call it something like, ‘Well, This Is It’ or something like that.”

Or “Puppies & Bushes,” we suppose.

“Judge Steve Harvey” airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC. The series premiered pretty strong last week, posting a 0.7 rating among adults 18-49 and 5.2 million total viewers, according to Nielsen’s final Live + Same Day numbers.

Netflix and Chappelle came under fire from prominent social justice organizations in the fall for the comedian’s jokes targeting trans and other LGBTQ+ people in his new special.

“Gender is a fact,” Chappelle said at one point in the hour-plus set. “Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth.”

Chappelle then joked about the genitalia of trans women, which he described as “not what it is.”