Steve Harvey: The Original King of Comedy

UPDATED: April 6, 2010
PUBLISHED: April 6, 2010

You may know Steve Harvey for his long-running, award-winning stand-up routine. You may recognize him from his hit television
shows or Spike Lee’s lauded The Original Kings of Comedy documentary. Or maybe he rides shotgun with you every
morning as you tune in to his syndicated radio show during your commute. The truth is, Steve Harvey is all of those things—comedian,
actor, radio personality—but that’s not how he can help you.

Harvey is also a self-proclaimed relationship expert. He’s not bragging—he’s the author of the best-selling
book Act Like a Woman, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy and Commitment.
On his radio show, he encourages listeners to phone or write in with their issues, and he offers straightforward advice that’s
two parts empathy, one part comedic jabs. He’s also a happily married father who has learned from his past.

“You’re looking at a guy who’s on his third marriage, so please know that I’ve made a lot of mistakes,”
Harvey says. “I think we sometimes get married too soon. That was my problem early on; I got married at 24. I shouldn’t
have been anybody’s husband.”

It took Harvey a couple of tries and several decades before he married the right woman, but he says he found her years earlier.
One night, while on stage doing his routine, he saw an attractive woman arrive late. His heart stopped, his mouth dried up,
and he stopped his joke in midsentence. “She was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen, so I just stopped
my show,” Harvey recalls. “The very first words I said to her were, ‘I don’t know who you are, but
I’m going to marry you one day.’ “

Love at first sight—maybe. But the courtship with Marjorie was problematic. They dated a little and then went their
separate ways. After their marriages to other people failed, they reconnected and have been married four years. Today, the
Harveys live in Atlanta with the four youngest children in their blended family. For him, finding the right person has been
a revelation. “If you’re with the wrong one, and I’ve had that experience, it drags everything down. You
cannot be as creative; you cannot be as focused; you cannot be as successful because your energy is tied up trying to hold
basic things together. Having a great wife by your side eliminates those worries.”

Deciphering Gender Codes

Harvey offers up such advice during the course of a conversation as if he were offering his audience an appetizer. His disarming
style seems natural, but it’s a skill he crafted after meeting comedic icon Bill Cosby while Harvey was still a struggling
young comic. “He said, ‘Steve, remember this: You have a very unique skill. People like you and I have the ability
to make people laugh. When you have people laughing, you have them listening. Once you have them listening, you can tell them
anything.’ “

Clearly, people are listening, and Harvey has plenty of insights to share. “If a guy is concerned about what you want,
about where you’re trying to go, what you need—he’s a keeper,” he says. “There are a lot of
good guys out there, and women don’t know it because these guys have been going so long without any requirements of
them. Do you know how many women don’t require chivalry, how many never ask a man where he’s going? If you find
this stuff out early, you don’t have to keep giving yourself to these guys, only to find out they’re losers. If
you know the right questions to ask upfront, you can avoid all that.”

Similar rules hold true for men seeking women. For men, he says, it’s important to realize that women are sensitive
in ways men don’t understand. A man doesn’t feel the need to be held, for instance. So, many times, he doesn’t
see why a woman would need that. Harvey says that’s a cardinal sin that leads to frustration or worse.

When pressed, he admits women make their share of mistakes, too. “The No. 1 thing that women need to know about men
is that we are nothing like them. Whatever you’re thinking we should be doing because ‘X’ just happened,
please take that off of the slate. Prepare yourself for something totally different.”

But it’s not all crossed signals and missed opportunities, and Harvey points to himself as living proof. He and his
wife share a loving, nurturing marriage, but it takes thoughtful planning and plenty of tuneups to keep the relationship moving
smoothly. He and his wife struggle to make time for each other while juggling their jobs, raising kids and dealing with family
and friends. To carve out a special evening just for the two of them, they sometimes make date nights.

Keys to Marital Bliss

The Harveys also find other ways to show affection. “We dress up for each other,” Harvey says, laughing. “She’ll
make me a glass a wine and do a little fashion show with outfits she wants my opinion on. Sometimes we eat in different places
in the house, if the whole family isn’t sitting down. Sometimes we’ll eat downstairs or outside on the deck. And
there’s never a day that goes by, ever, that I don’t hear her tell me she loves me at least twice, and vice versa.
We never allow that to happen.”

Of course, if all else fails, there’s always laughter, especially in the Harvey household. “Laughter fixes a
lot of issues. If you’re in a place where you’re never laughing, that’s a tough situation to be in. You
want laughter.”

Whatever you do to keep your relationship fresh, Harvey stresses there are two things neither person should ever forget.
First, he says, become a better listener. Pay attention to what’s being said, how it’s said, and what might not
be said at all. “Listen to the first thing they’re talking about, but keep listening,” he advises men. “What’s
really wrong isn’t the first thing you hear; you have to go three levels deeper. You can’t take the first thing
said and think it’s nothing and just blow it off. You have to sit still and listen, because more is coming. Women are
never upset about nothing; it’s always something.”

Harvey’s other tip, he admits, isn’t easy to follow. He’s seen too many marriages fall apart after eight
or 10 happy years in which lives and families were built. The mistake those couples made, he says, is allowing themselves
to grow apart as they mature and change. “You’ve got to fight to stay similar,” Harvey says. “You’ve
got to fight to hold on to those things you did together in the beginning. Don’t let them go. If you used to go fishing
or hiking, you can’t stop doing those things. If you let them go, who says you’ll find something to replace them

Perhaps it’s not so strange, then, that the Harveys often have “fashion show” night at their house. One
of the couple’s side businesses is, in fact, a clothing line.