One of America’s most successful comedians reflects on his 10th year as a resident headliner in Las Vegas—the longest run in Vegas history for any African American performer.
Comedian George Wallace
Tavis Smiley: It’s our tenth year here on PBS, with almost 2,000 shows under our belt come May, and so I thought now was a good time to introduce you to some of the folk that make this show possible.
Here now, Chris McDonald. He’s been with me since the beginning of this program and is the man responsible for all the great music guests you see on our show regularly.
Chris, thank you. A pleasure having you on this program, my friend.
Chris McDonald: Tavis, it’s great to be a part of a show where musicians get to come on and talk in great length about their artistry, and there aren’t too many shows that provide that. So I’m thankful to be a part of this.
Tavis: Because of you. I’m glad to have you. So why don’t you take it away?
McDonald: Well, we’re glad you’ve joined us today. A conversation with George Wallace starts right now.
Tavis: Always pleased to welcome George Wallace back to this program. (Laughter) I’m laughing already.
After decades of making us laugh, to his credit, he is now the recipient of a new lifetime achievement award from BET’s sister network, Centric. He is also celebrating his tenth year at the Flamingo Hotel.
Now stop there – one second. This is my tenth year on PBS. See that sign, “Tavis 10?”
George Wallace: Oh my goodness.
Tavis: This is our tenth year on PBS, and George Wallace is celebrating 10 years now at the Flamingo Hotel, which makes him the longest-running headliner in Las Vegas history of African descent – first brother or sister to ever do that.
A show that I never miss when I am in Las Vegas. His lifetime achievement award celebration airs this Saturday, so let’s take a look.
[Begin video clip]
“George Wallace:” Mama (unintelligible) ask you a question and answer at the same time. “How you all get up here, walk?” (Laughter) “Where your daddy, at work?” “What time he get off, 6:00?” “Why it’s so hot in here? Y’all got the heater on?” “What you walking like that for, your feet hurt?” “What your mama cooking, chicken?” What you laughing at, something funny? (Laughter) I’ll be thinking about stuff like that.
[End video clip]
Tavis: (Laughter) That’s a serious outfit you got on there, George.
Wallace: Well, I had that made just for that night. I took it back already. (Laughter) I always look good. Like the suit I got on? It’s going back tomorrow.
Tavis: Yeah, it’s going back tomorrow? (Laughter)
Wallace: It really doesn’t fit. I got it tied in the back. But I take of it. I always look good. That was me talking about my Uncle Bud. There’s something wrong with my family, though. You’re intelligent.
I got a niece, she just – master’s degree, like four point, it’s above four point, whatever. (Unintelligible) smart people. She was over in Paris, studying for about a year. She called back six months ago and asked us you heard about a man walking a tightrope across Niagara Falls. Remember that guy?
Tavis: Uh-huh, yeah.
Wallace: You know what she asked us?
Wallace: “Was he Black?” Now, you know what, there’s certain things you don’t – (laughter) there’s certain things you don’t have to ask.
Tavis: You know.
Wallace: You know a Black person –
Wallace: – two men frozen climbing Mt. Everest. (Laughter) Some things we just don’t do. I don’t want to get into that (unintelligible). Sometimes I get into that.
Tavis: No, no. One of the things you’ve been doing well for 10 years is headlining at the Flamingo. This is a serious record. I was thinking the other days of all the people –
Wallace: Redd Foxx?
Tavis: Redd Foxx, Sammy Davis Jr.
Wallace: Sammy Davis. Lena Horne.
Tavis: Lena Horne.
Wallace: (Unintelligible) yeah.
Tavis: Lola Falana.
Wallace: Lola Falana.
Tavis: Diahann Carroll. Thinking of all the folk who’ve played Vegas over the years, you are the longest-running.
Wallace: Also, I own the show; I don’t work for the hotels like they did.
Wallace: So I own the show. I do all of the marketing, I do all of the advertising, I do everything. Set the price of tickets, everything like that. That’s why when you come the tickets are very high. (Laughter)
Tavis: I was going to say, is that why I’m paying so much to see you?
Wallace: That’s why you paying so much, yes, yes, yes.
Tavis: After knowing you for 25 years?
Wallace: Yes, yes.
Tavis: How have you managed that? That’s a long time to be a headliner.
Wallace: Well, it’s a long time to be a headliner, but people continue to come back. I’m so blessed, people are coming back and I have new material every night, because you live life and you watch the news, CNN – we call that the “Comedy News Network.” (Unintelligible) All you can do is just get jokes. Jokes just pop up. And you got the movies going and then February’s Black History Month. I tell people in Las Vegas they should love Black people, because you know, a Black man invented air conditioning. If you go to Las Vegas in August, it’s 115 degrees at midnight. (Laughter)
So (unintelligible) bow down to that Black man (unintelligible). (Laughter) Also a Black man invented the traffic light, so – people can get killed; you can die either way in Las Vegas. If it wasn’t for the Black man, air conditioning or the traffic light, boom. Crazy, crazy.
Tavis: How do you, after all these years, come up with material on a regular basis? Because these crowds in Vegas are coming every single day. You can’t tell the same joke for 10 years.
Wallace: I’m getting scared, because people come back, they’re “This is my eleventh time here, and every time it’s different.” So when things are happening in the news, there’s so much – like we just, I could go back, things that have changed in the last – let’s just go back to Jamaica, to the London – what was in London? The Olympics.
Tavis: The Olympics, yeah, yeah.
Wallace: Little things like that you just change, and the I was running so fast with my – what’s his name? Usain Boat.
Tavis: Yeah, yeah.
Wallace: I was just saying that guy, he was running so fast, had he kept running he would have still come in third. He would have won gold and bronze the same night. (Laughter) The little Black girl, Gabby Douglas, we were making fun of her.
Tavis: Yeah, Gabby, sure, sure.
Wallace: I hadn’t seen a Black person flip, jump, and move like that since they whupped Rodney King’s butt. (Laughter) So you take all of that stuff and then you come up to the holidays.
This was Christmas just left, I’m still mad about that, because my nephew gave me a gift card from the dollar store. (Laughter) I get mad at stuff like that. Then you start thinking about all of the things that happen at the holiday season.
For instance, we got a thousand songs, and New Year’s Eve we got what? One song, and nobody knows the lyrics to it. Wasn’t it “Auld Lang Syne?”
Tavis: “Auld Lang Syne.”
Wallace: Nobody – you can tell when it’s getting near midnight, too, because people, they start putting on Chapstick and stuff like that.
Tavis: (Laughter) Start getting ready, huh?
Wallace: Start getting ready, yeah. You ever notice that (unintelligible) they shake up the champagne. At my house, we didn’t have a lot of money so we used to just take, like, a can of Mountain Dew (laughter) (unintelligible). Ain’t nobody know the difference.
So that’s how you come up with new material daily. Just always something happening. What happened in Las Vegas last week, just three days ago? They had a shooting there, and everybody was looking for a Black Range Rover. So I had to keep telling the police officer, “Will you stop messing with me,” I had to tell him. “A Black Range Rover is a car, not a Negro.” (Laughter)
Tavis: Speaking of Range Rovers, or people getting away in cars, I brought this out on the set because I wanted to read this. I’m going to clean some of this up.
Wallace: What are you doing?
Tavis: This is PBS, my mama’s watching.
Wallace: I know your mama watching. Everywhere I go, your mama be watching me. (Laughter)
Tavis: You know what?
Wallace: I didn’t mean to say that. I apologize. I really –
Tavis: Leave my mama out of this. (Laughter)
Tavis: All right.
Wallace: You know the rest.
Tavis: Yeah, I know the rest. (Laughter) You know I met your mama at the airport; she got a job sniffing luggage. (Laughter) Go ahead and read that.
Tavis: Your mama is so Black –
Wallace: You can’t do that. (Laughter) Because you know your mama so dark they named that part of the evening after her, right? Your grandmom used to say to your mama, “Night-night.” (Laughter) What you reading there? Tavis, there’s something wrong with you. You know what?
Tavis: I feel like defending my mama’s honor, because you know I can trade “yo mama” jokes with you all night long.
Wallace: Yes you can. Yes you can.
Tavis: We do this all the time, but –
Wallace: In Las Vegas. No, no, you start, but I did it for, like, 10 years, and people just come in and, like, he comes in and he starts it up again. I just – God bless you, I love you, though. (Laughter) There’s something wrong with you, though.
Tavis: Whenever I go see George in Vegas, that’s what happens, literally. When I’m in the audience, he knows I’m there, he’ll call me on stage, and I think to the delight of the audience from around the country, around the world. They just get such a kick out of saying me on stage with George, just trading back and forth “yo mama.”
Wallace: Not only you, but everybody else stops in. That’s what’s good about the show also in Las Vegas, you never know who’s going to show. My show is Vegas like it used to be?
Guess who was there Friday night?
Wallace: Ruth Buzzi. I don’t know if you remember. Ruth Buzzi with the old purse.
Tavis: Oh, of course I do, yeah, with the teeth.
Wallace: I just happened to have a brand new Mary Francis purse to give her, because she used to hit people with that old bag.
Guess who else was in there? I had, of course, the last time he show a show in Las Vegas, Dick Clark came by.
Tavis: Yeah, right.
Wallace: Chris Tucker always stop by, Seinfeld. It’s just – Joel Osteen.
Wallace: Can you believe?
Tavis: Stop lying.
Wallace: I don’t have to lie to you. You ain’t nobody – I mean – (laughter)
Tavis: Why are you lying on Joel Olsteen, man?
Wallace: Joel Olsteen, let me tell you something – that’s a real comedian. You ever see Joel Olsteen?
Tavis: Joel Olsteen?
Wallace: Are you kidding? Joel Olsteen told a joke. He said little boy turned 16 years old and he went to his daddy. He said, “Daddy, I’m 16 today, I got my driver’s license. I would like to use that family car.” His daddy was a preacher. He said, “Son, I know you want to use that family car, but we have other priorities.”
He said, “Number one, you need to improve your grades.” He said, “Son, number two, me being a minister, it’d be nice if you were to start reading that Bible.” And he said, “Son, number three, you need to get a haircut.”
So six months went by, the little boy came back. He said, “Daddy, I love you and I want to obey you, do everything you asked me to do.
“You asked me to improve my grades; here’s my report card. Did good, stayed up all night. You being a minster, making me read that Bible, I want to thank you.” He said, “Daddy, do you know when I read that Bible, do you know I read that Samson had long hair?” (Laughter) “Amen.”
He said, “Daddy, do you know, I kept reading the Bible, and I read that Moses had long hair.” He said, “Daddy, I want to thank you for making me read that Bible. Daddy, I read the whole Bible, and when I read the whole Bible, I even read that Jesus had long hair.”
And his daddy said, “And if you notice, everywhere they went, they walked. Mm-hmm.” (Laughter) So Joel Olsteen can tell some jokes. He is so good.
Tavis: He does tell some funny stories.
Wallace: Clean jokes, too. He’s just wonderful. (Laughter) I met him, I met his wife and I met the mother, everybody. It’s really nice. So you never know who’s going to – Aretha Franklin. She came to my show.
Tavis: The queen.
Wallace: The queen. She had that hat on at the inauguration?
Tavis: The inauguration?
Wallace: Yeah, and she was laughing so hard that hat started spinning, that little bow. (Laughter) But you never know what’s going to happen, and you never know what I’m going to give away. I give away a car, diamonds; I just like to have fun.
Tavis: Who are you, Oprah? Who do you think you are?
Wallace: I swear to you I know you didn’t say that.
Wallace: Because I want to be Oprah so badly. (Laughter) I want to be a rich Black lady. But I like that. I learn from Oprah and I learn from you. I just love people having fun, enjoying life.
Tavis: I was reading in “Rolling Stone” the other day. They had a list of the top 25 people who they suggest you follow on Twitter.
Wallace: In the world.
Tavis: In the world.
Wallace: That’s right, yeah.
Tavis: You’re one of the 25.
Tavis: Can I read some of your tweets?
Wallace: I don’t think so. (Laughter) I don’t (unintelligible) might be watching me. (Unintelligible) in my church. I told them I was going to be on the show, so you be careful what you read there.
Tavis: I’m going to clean them up as best I can.
Wallace: You should have come to church yesterday. Stevie was there, Stevie Wonder was there.
Wallace: You know he’s very active at our church now.
Wallace: Serving as an usher. But go ahead, read. (Laughter) Go ahead. I don’t like (unintelligible).
Tavis: That reminds me, that reminds me, hold on. Why the heck do blind people wear sunglasses? Do deaf people run around wearing earplugs?
Wallace: Now you see, that one, you shouldn’t do. That’s an inside joke.
Tavis: That’s – you tweeted that, man. Here’s another tweet. “Why in the heck did Dorner -” Christopher Dorner, the guy that –
Wallace: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Tavis: “Why in the heck did Dorner give shout-outs to 15 comics in his manifesto, but not me?”
Wallace: But not me. And what did I do? I’m the one who set the house on fire down in Big Bear. (Laughter) I did it. I lit it.
Tavis: You said “A shout-out to ADT,” the security firm.
Wallace: Yes. (Laughter)
Tavis: “Shout-out to ADT for -” (laughter).
Tavis: “Shout-out to ADT for calling to see if I’m okay – like the burglar is let me take the call.” (Laughter)
Wallace: “Yeah, you doing all right?” “Yeah, he’s fine. Mr. Wallace is fine.” Yeah. That’s another thing about gun control, too, talking about burglars. Gun control, I believe in the Second Amendment. I think you should have the same type gun that they had when they wrote the Second Amendment.
A musket is all you need in your house. But I do believe that you don’t need an AK-47 walking the street. You can have a gun in your house. You’re going to make a mistake every now and then. Somebody going to walk in, you might bust a cap in Junior’s butt, “I told you to knock before you come through that damn door, Junior.” (Laughter)
Tavis: “Shout-out to the pope – sick and tired of signing books and autographs.”
Wallace: The pope is getting old now. I should run for the pope. I should be a Black pope.
Tavis: No, come on.
Wallace: Oh, man, I would – Catholic people would love me, because I will stop – they’re tired of getting up and going down, kneeling – make up your mind.
Tavis: What would you change? What would you change?
Wallace: First thing I’d change is that cup. Are you Catholic?
Wallace: You ever go to – I go to all type of churches.
Tavis: But I know, I’ve been to mass.
Wallace: Everybody drink out of –
Tavis: The same cup.
Wallace: Get rid of that. (Laughter) Just have a different glass, like our church.
Wallace: One thing about it, we got different cups in our church, but we got the little –
Tavis: The small communion things.
Wallace: Yeah, (unintelligible).
Tavis: (Unintelligible) thing, yeah, yeah.
Wallace: That makes me sick, when they give me out there a little thimble of communion, that little grape juice. They know that grape juice is good. Give us a full glass of that grape juice. (Laughter) We need some more grape juice.
We need more – preachers, we need more grape juice. I got that stale cracker stuck in my throat. We need more grape juice, preachers. I make the preacher stand up 15 minutes every time they come to my show. Bishop Blake, I make him stand up.
Tavis: To make them stand up?
Wallace: I said, “Y’all got us standing every Sunday for 10 or 15 minutes. Just stay standing. Just stay standing, stay standing, stay standing.” (Laughter) “Stay standing.” I tell them to stop telling lies at these funerals, too. My daddy died. “Brother Wallace, he’s not dead, he’s just sleeping.”
I told my mama, “The hell he ain’t dead.” (Laughter) “We got this insurance money coming up in here too? You let him move, I’m going to bust his head wide open.” (Laughter) Preachers tell lies all the time. You ever see them?
Wallace: They walk up with the Bible in their hand in front of the whole congregation. “I won’t be long.” That’s a lie. (Laughter) The congregation – “Take your time, Pastor, take your time.” Will you shut the hell up? (Laughter) You know that game come at 1:00. We got to get the hell out of here.
Tavis: You tweeted, “Why is there a Bible in the courtroom? Isn’t that why we’re here in the first place? Somebody’s lying.”
Wallace: Somebody’s lying.
Wallace: I don’t understand the courtroom and jury duty. (Laughter) We used to have a disease called lockjaw – you never heard of that one, did you?
Tavis: I heard of that.
Wallace: If you step on a nail, you can get lockjaw. We need to bring that one back, don’t we? Put some nails in front of Judge Judy’s house so she’ll get lockjaw.
Tavis: You don’t like Judge Judy?
Wallace: I like her, but sometimes she’s just mean. She doesn’t even listen to the case.
Tavis: Oh, yeah, just mean.
Wallace: But they pay her $40 million dollars a year. If they paid me $40 million, you ain’t seen no mean. (Laughter) You ain’t seen – everybody going to jail this month.
Tavis: “Don’t let politicians kiss your babies – their lips have been kissing lobbyist booty for years now.”
Wallace: For years. Did I say “booty?” You cleaned that up real good.
Tavis: No. I cleaned it up, man. I cleaned it up.
Wallace: Yes, you got a lot of my tweet.
Tavis: I cleaned it up. I love this last one: “Lance Armstrong, you need your behind kicked. Always stick to your lie. Confess only to God. Stick to your lie.”
Wallace: I told President Clinton that – stick to your lie. (Laughter) I don’t – that ticked me off. They could have caught me on videotape. I still would have said, “That is not me.” Now it’s on – run the tape. Now look, stop it right there. (Laughter) Then I would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, if I did not know that was not me, I would say that’s me.” (Laughter)
But that is, (laughs) that’s – stick to your lie. Always stick to your lie. (Unintelligible)
Tavis: Have you seen your friend Seinfeld lately?
Wallace: I talk to him every day. He’s doing fine, God bless him.
Tavis: How did you and Jerry Seinfeld get to be best friends?
Wallace: Well, back in 1976, Catch a Rising Star, he was at one end of the bar and I was at the other end; the Black and the Jew (unintelligible) get together. I said, “He look like he going to make a lot of money.” (Laughter) No, no, let me tell you, speaking of that. This is a true story.
Wallace: Right on Melrose Avenue about let’s say 1980, on Melrose Avenue, when it was really big, there was a lady, one of those ladies, Ms. Mary, what do you call, those fortune tellers?
Tavis: Fortune tellers, yeah.
Wallace: I said, “Let’s go in and mess with this lady. Let’s play with her brain,” because it was only $5. So we went, he said, “I’m not going.” I said, “Come, you’re coming with me.”
We went in there and I gave the lady $5. She looked at my hand, she says, “You’re going to make a lot of money. You’re going to make a lot of money. Your life is going to be fine.” I’m looking at him like (makes face). I said, “Now you go.”
He said, “I’m not going.” I said, “You go,” and I gave the lady $10 for him. She looked at his hand, she said, “Oh my God, I thought he was going to make a lot of money. You’re really going to make a lot of money.”
She said that to Seinfeld that time. Never will forget that. And she was right. We’re looking for her now. I can’t find her. (Laughter) Because I didn’t know she was going to be that right.
I do well. I’m blessed, I’m the most blessed – matter of fact, it’s not how much money you make. That’s why I’m the most successful comedian in America.
Wallace: In the world, ever. It’s not how much money you make, it’s how you enjoy your life while you’re living. God has blessed me so – I can’t even – abundantly so, that I get to know people like you, I’ve been in the White House, I’ve been everywhere, all over the world.
Tavis: They let you in the White House?
Wallace: Yeah. You ever been in the White House? Did you steal anything? Because I did. I’m not going to lie to you. (Laughter) I figured – like souvenirs (unintelligible).
Tavis: I was going to tell you what I stole, but I remembered your tweet: “Confess only to God.”
Wallace: Well, this is true, too.
Tavis: So I’m going to stick to my lie – I didn’t steal nothing.
Wallace: I stirred my coffee with a sterling silver spoon.
Got to go. (Laughter) But I figure I paid for all that stuff. They ain’t paid for nothing. So I was at the White House, yes, I did steal something. If I get to go back again, President Barack Obama, I’m coming in there, y’all going to be missing a lot of stuff, okay?
I talk to President Barack Obama every day, because I’m teaching him how to run the country.
Tavis: You’re teaching him?
Wallace: Well, I’m –
Tavis: What are you encouraging him to do or not do?
Wallace: Well, things like jobs.
Wallace: We was talking about that the other day. There’s so many jobs – he was talking about unemployment, because –
Tavis: What’d you tell him?
Wallace: I told him to build some more unemployment offices. (Laughter) That’s construction. The people at unemployment, what they got an attitude for, the people working down at the unemployment office? If it weren’t for me, you’d be standing in this line behind me.
So I talk to him about balancing the budget, I talked about if – I’m going to run for president, I’m going to announce it right here on this show – 2016.
Tavis: You’re running?
Wallace: I’m running for president.
Wallace: I’m telling everybody right now, all the Black people, all the white people, everybody, don’t get mad at me, because I’m putting Mexicans in charge of everything. Every Cabinet post, every administrative position, I’m putting Mexicans in charge.
Because Mexicans can get stuff done. A Mexican will show up on time, a Mexican will bring other people with them. Anything can be done, a Mexican can do. I want people to know that they’re going to be in charge. Who’s the richest man in the world? Mexican. Carlos Slim.
Tavis: Who? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, Carlos Slim, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Wallace: See, I know so much about Mexicans. You ever notice you never see a homeless Mexican? You never, ever see a homeless Mexican. See, I be thinking about stuff like that.
You give a Mexican, like, eight bricks and three packs of chewing gum – (laughter) you (unintelligible). You come back a week later, townhouses and condos all up the block, and a brand new Home Depot up on the corner. So I’m putting a Mexican – speaking –
Tavis: I heard you tell a joke one time when I came to see you in Vegas about the wall being built. You said, “Ain’t no wall going to be built.”
Wallace: Yeah, you think – it’s a waste of money. They want to build a wall on the border. You think the Mexicans are going to build their own wall and not leave a hole in it? Hell, they ain’t crazy. (Laughter) That wall look like a checkerboard with the holes in it down there, you let the Mexicans build it.
But I’m telling you right now, so I am running for president.
Tavis: So you’re running in 2016?
Wallace: Yes, I am, and I could balance the budget tomorrow. We’re going to have a three-day government, Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. Ain’t nobody going to get laid off, either. That’s when the mailman’s going to come – Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
And the mailman and the garbage man going to be the same guy, because they dropping off and picking up the same stuff. (Laughter) The mailman know that’s junk mail. I’m at the post office – I used to do the joke one time, I was at the post office.
On this wall they had wanted for murder; on this wall they had employee of the month. (Laughter) Same picture.
Tavis: How have you sustained doing this five nights a week for 10 years? You don’t ever get tired.
Wallace: No, sir.
Tavis: Are there some nights you say, “I really just don’t feel like going out,” and then you get out there and the audience just gives you something that wakes you up?
Wallace: Tavis, I’m the most blessed person in the world. I have the greatest job in the world. I enjoy life. I do what I want to do. That’s all I ever wanted to do, was a comedian, and to be able to go out there every night, it’s my sex, it’s my drugs.
I love to go to work. When I go out there and I see happy people, it makes me happier. So I don’t care, you can be sick, headache, anything like that. When you walk out on that stage, it all – laughter is the greatest medicine in the world.
Laughter is healing. It’s good to laugh. I teach people that. Don’t let people steal your joy. People cut you off on the freeway, you get mad, trying to get up and give them the finger. Let them go. They’re already in. (Laughter)
If you walk in, even people our age, if we walk in, laugh it off. That’s what I teach everybody. People that are watching me right now, repeat after me: Laugh it off. Even if we walk in and catch our parents making love – no. (Laughter) You can’t laugh that off. That’s nasty.
Tavis: Can’t laugh that one off.
Wallace: But it’s good to laugh, and that’s why I love going to work every night. I’ll never stop working. I’m retiring from what? All I do is go out – now I’m sitting in a chair, and I tell people, let’s just talk about anything you want to talk about, and if you don’t want to talk about anything, don’t bother me. I’ll sit here for 45 minutes and I won’t do a damn thing. (Laughter)
Tavis: You done paid the ticket anyway.
Wallace: I told them, “Joke’s on you. Box office closed.” (Laughter) So that’s how it’s so exciting to go to work every night, because you never know what the people going to shout out in the audience, what they’re going to talk about.
I travel all over the world, and every night is different. One night I do an international show, we talk about traveling. I’ve got pictures of me in Cape Town, South Africa, and I got pictures of me in Shanghai.
Tavis: You remember we went to Africa together?
Wallace: We went to Africa together. (Unintelligible) Never will forget. We had a wonderful time over there. We went to South Africa together.
Tavis: Had a good time.
Wallace: Never will forget that. Started to leave you over there.
Tavis: When are you writing a book? I think about all the stuff you’ve done, where’s the book man?
Wallace: Next time I come to you, I’m going to have a book on people can say some stupid stuff, and I got a book called “Laugh it Off.”
Tavis: You know how many times you’ve told me this, “The next time I see you, I’m going to have a book.” You know how many times you – what year is this?
Wallace: Well, you know I lie for a living.
Tavis: What year is this?
Wallace: I lie for a living, don’t I? (Laughter) Every time you see me –
Tavis: You’re always lying about something.
Wallace: (Unintelligible) if you open your mouth, you’re lying.
Tavis: Yeah, exactly.
Tavis: I can’t imagine you not making it as a comedian, because you’re so blessed and gifted at it. What if you had not made it? What if you had come out and bombed every night and realized that comedy wasn’t your thing? What else would you have done?
Wallace: I still bomb every night. I’ve been bombing every night for 10 years. Doesn’t bother me. People still paying, I keep bombing. (Laughter) Doesn’t bother me. My first degree was in transportation, and sometimes I have to explain that to people, because I tell them I went to – how I loved my daddy, I had to put some flowers on his grave, and I didn’t want to do it because he still owed me for cutting the grass. (Laughter)
But he put me through seven years of college, and people start laughing when I say “seven years of college.” I said, “Well, look at me; obviously I have more than one degree.” So my first degree was in transportation, and most people in the world don’t know anything about transportation, which happens to be the number one industry in the world. Everything around you, the shirt on your back, the shoes on your feet, your car –
Tavis: It’s got to move, it’s got to move. It’s got to move.
Wallace: – it’s got to move through some form of transportation. So I could have done that. I love traveling. I could have been the president of an airline. I could have done that.
Tavis: Wait, hold up. How could you have been the president, how could you – the president of an airline?
Wallace: Yes, I could run an airline very well if I was a – you know I have over six million hours flying. I know –
Tavis: Just because you could fly (unintelligible) an airline?
Wallace: Yes, because when people fly like me, we know what the airline really needs.
Tavis: Yeah, okay.
Wallace: And you make it comfortable for people, and we wouldn’t let – you got ugly baby on the plane, you FedEx that ugly baby there a week ahead of time (laughter) so it won’t be crying on the flight.
But I love the airline industry. I love that. I would love to be a president of an airline.
Tavis: But instead we get to see you five nights a week at the Flamingo, the fabulous Flamingo.
Wallace: At the fabulous – and I love it, and I’m blessed, and stop by any time.
Tavis: I’ll be there.
Wallace: Tweet me at Mr. George Wallace. That’s it. (Laughter) I forget sometimes, I was going to go to the “dot com.”
Tavis: The dot com, yeah. No, tweet doesn’t have a dot com on it.
Wallace: Mr. George Wallace. Tweet, and you might get some free tickets, because I give away things like that. Just sometimes I just do stupid stuff like that.
Tavis: I love this guy. We’ve been friends for a long time.
Wallace: And I love you too. And there’s absolutely –
Tavis: And there ain’t nothing –
Wallace: – absolutely nothing you can do about it.
Tavis: How about that?
Wallace: I’m suing people too, for y’all saying that. (Laughter) I got quite a few people using my phrase. I love you and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
Tavis: That’s a George Wallace original, it really is.
Wallace: You know who else I’m going to sue?
Wallace: All my friends that got married in the last 10 years and got a divorce already. You going to court. I want all my money back. I know a lot of people got married in the last 10 years. One of my friends got married and just jumped on a boat, went out in the ocean. Should have kept going. (Laughter)
Tavis: George Wallace –
Wallace: You didn’t go to that wedding, did you?
Tavis: No, I did not. The fabulous Flamingo –
Wallace: I can even –
Tavis: You say it, you say it. Go ahead and say it.
Wallace: This is George Wallace. I’m at the Flamingo every night in Las Vegas. They call me the New Mr. Vegas, and we have nothing but fun at the show. Stop by when you’re in Vegas. Say hello to me. You never know what’s going to happen; you never know what you might win.
You might win some jewelry, you might win money. You never know who’s going to be there – Seinfeld, Anthony Anderson. You never know what’s going to happen. Now everybody walks up on that show. Joel Olsteen, Bishop Charles E. Blake, I got churches from everywhere.
Tavis: (Whispers, pointing to himself) Tavis Smiley.
Wallace: This guy named Tavis Smiley, he stops by every now and then. (Laughter) I don’t know who he is, but he stop there every now – I can’t – Travis, is that his name?
Tavis: You know what? That’s – (laughter) that’s our show for tonight. Keep the faith. Go, go.
Wallace: Wait, I’m just kidding.
Tavis: You out of here. Bye. (Laughter)
“Announcer:” For more information on today’s show, visit Tavis Smiley at PBS.org.
“Wade Hunt:” There’s a saying that Dr. King had, and he said, “There’s always a right time to do the right thing.” I just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. We know that we’re only about halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. And Walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the U.S. As we work together, we can stamp hunger out.
“Announcer:” And by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you.