I remember the first time I saw Chris Tucker. On screen, I mean.
I was at my aunt’s house, watching “Friday” for the first time. The film begins kind of…lethargic, as Craig (Ice Cube) is just waking up. About seven minutes in, we’re all shocked awake with Tucker’s loud, cartoonish voice:
Chris was one of those characters who drew you in from the moment you saw him. From that moment onward, I was a fan. Stand up. “Money Talks.” The “Rush Hour” franchise. “The Fifth Element.”
A few weeks ago, I was invited to a gallery opening. Low and behold, I see him—Chris—coming down the aisle right towards me. I knew instantly and without question who he was. Maybe it was because I was staring straight at him and smiling, or maybe it was because we were the only two black faces in the room at that time. Either way, he smiled back, stuck his hand out and said, “Hey, how you doing?” as if we were old pals.
I exclaimed, “Hey!” smiled wide, and shook his hand back. He kept going towards the back, and I didn’t follow, no matter how much I wanted to. For about five minutes, the fangirl within me was dying to get a photo with him. I mean, this was Chris MFn’ Tucker—how could I not? I see celebrities all the time, but seeing ones I actually care about, well, that’s a whole other ball of wax. In spite of being both an adult and a professional journalist, all I could think about how much I was geeking out.
After about seven minutes, I politely excused myself from my friend and the group we were with to go see about Chris. He was standing outside, talking to this little girl [who would later be the photographer for my photo with him]. When she ran off, I approached him.
Chris: Hey, how’s it going?
Me: Good. [prepares to ask for a photo]
Chris: So what brings you to this venue?
Me: [thrown] Oh, I’m here with a friend who knows someone.
Chris: Oh, okay.
Me: What about you?
Chris: I’m with the agency. Figured I’d check it out. Are you from here?
Me: [thrown some more] No. I’m from Chicago, actually.
Chris: Chicago? That’s a great city. What brings you here?
The conversation continued for about fifteen minutes, with a very engaged Chris asking me questions, my responding, then asking him questions. This was not what I had intended at all–I’d plan to ask for a pic, smile to myself and then run away. So, I’m glad he was a normal, nice person who guided me through the conversation process. For the Chris Tucker/Friday fans out there, I of course asked him about the proposed “Last Friday.”
Me: That’s the beauty of it though—nostalgia sells. On top of that, the last we see Smokey, he said he was going to rehab. Maybe he really did. He and Craig are all grown up. Maybe they don’t even meet in LA—maybe it’s somewhere else. A reunion, and then shenanigans ensue because it’s them, you know?
Me: You and Cube—you guys sort of kicked off the buddy/bromance thing again. We wouldn’t have had a “Pineapple Express” if not for Friday.
Chris: [chuckles] That’s true, that’s true.
I’m glad I said it, even if it never happens. I got it out to one of the right people. Still, I lament not asking him why he’s never done any voiceover work. He’s perfect for a cartoon, just being himself.
At any rate, meeting Chris Tucker was not just amazing, but a grand learning experience in separating the fangirl from the person. Hopefully I’ll get to try this whole thing out—talking to someone I fangirl over like a regular person—in the near future.