Steve Harvey doesn’t take static from the audience – especially when he is working for free.
The comic, author and radio host served as emcee of Fine Art + Fashion Thursday night. The party and fashion show at Neiman Marcus benefited the National Black Arts Festival.
From the beginning Harvey adopted the relaxed, freewheeling tone that fans of his comedy shows know and love.
“If you can’t really hear or see me, that’s the size of your donation,” he quipped.
He admitted that although organizers had sent him a script ahead of time, he hadn’t bothered to read it. He asked for help pronouncing “High Museum” and joked that he has never mastered the art of reading from a script while maintaining periodic eye contact “Y’all pray for me!” he said.
The event honored artists Radcliffe Bailey and Danny Simmons Jr., designer CD Greene and handbag designer Jada Loveless, along with emerging talents Azede Jean-Pierre, Nathaniel Keith and Stephanie Waldrip.
Praising Greene’s snappy combo of houndstooth jacket and top hat, Harvey said he used to have a closet full of similar duds until his wife Marjorie made him discard them in favor of a more subdued wardrobe.
“I miss you, man!” Harvey cried to Greene. Gesturing to his classic navy suit he said, “Now look at me!”
While most of the crowd seemed to revel in Harvey’s cutting up, at some point during the event he apparently detected a chill among a few in attendance.
“I’m comfortable with me,” he said. “Some of you have not made the necessary adjustments to deal with me. To the eight of you who looked at me like I stink, let me assure you I feel the same way about you. Go on and live your dull, rut-driven lives.”
On the bright side, the experience may have given him fodder for a new bit.
“I could have made this into an HBO moment!” he said.
It was impossible to tell from our vantage point, at the photographers’ stand at the end of the 70-foot runway, who Harvey was referring to, and most of the audience had seemed to be enjoying the evening.
Event chair Sandra Baccus, who joined him on stage a few times. clasped Harvey’s hand at one point and led the crowd in applauding him. She noted the Harveys’ eager and generous support of the NBAF and thanked Harvey for donating his talents for the evening.
And Harvey, who received a thunderous standing ovation at the event’s conclusion, is still happy to be here.
“Since my wife and I have been in Atlanta we’ve met some of the nicest people,” he said. “And y’all know how to dress up!”
- Jennifer Brett/The Buzzfirstname.lastname@example.org