Don’t Give Up (Steve Harvey Series Part One)

Steve Harvey talking about the importance of not giving up
American comedian and TV host, Steve Harvey

What better way to kick off the new year than with a Steve Harvey motivational talk? Five Steve Harvey motivational talks. This article is the first of a five-part series of talks delivered by Steve Harvey featuring themes of resilience, courage, faith, imagination, adversity, belief, destiny, and purpose. I’ll be publishing one article per day starting today until January 7th instead of the usual 2 to 3 posts per week. Per his Wikipedia page, Steve Harvey is an American comedian, television host, producer, radio personality, actor, and author. He has been described as “America’s comedian” for his high likability and down-to-earth demeanor. But what I like most about Steve Harvey is the vulnerability with which he shares the wisdom he has acquired. I’ve transcribed the first segment below on the importance of never giving up. In it, Steve Harvey tells about the moment he hit rock bottom in a bathroom at the Ritz-Carlton.


When I got into comedy at 27, I had a turn-back moment, man. It was the day I was going to quit. ‘Cause I had had enough, man. I was living in this car for three years, man. I ain’t got no money. I was going to call my mom and dad and ask them could I come home and just stay in the attic for about four months until I find a job. My father told me you can’t come back home. Once you leave my daddy’s house, you got to figure s**t out. So I knew it was going to be hard.

But they had put an answering machine in the attic for me. And so I was bathing in a hotel in Pennsylvania in Pensacola, Florida, and the way I used to bathe was I used to go to hotels that had those bathroom doors that went floor to ceiling. And I would go real fancy like Ritz-Carlton’s and stuff like that because they had linen towels wrapped up in the basket. And I would take a bunch of them in there, run hot water on them, and I’d take them in the stall and shut the door. And I’d take my bag and I’d soap up. Then I would wait until the coast was clear, then I would run out and get a bunch more rags and soak them up and come out and wipe it off. Then I’d stand there and dry, put my clothes back on–that’s how I bathed every other day.

And so I was in there one time and they had a convention in town. And when I got all the stuff I soaped up. This convention let out, and men was just coming in the bathroom, and I couldn’t go out. So I couldn’t get the soap off. So I let the toilet seat down, and I’m sitting there, man. I said man, I can’t take this s**t anymore, I’m finna [about to] quit. I’m going to go call my daddy and just ask him can I come home. I can’t do this no more.

Before I called him, I called the answering machine, and I got a message, and it says “Steve Harvey this is Chuck Sutton from Showtime at the Apollo. We saw tape of you. If you will come to New York Sunday night [this was a Thursday]. Come Sunday night we’re going to put you on TV, Showtime at the Apollo.” Put me on TV? That was my dream. But I had a problem. I had $25. I couldn’t get to New York. How was I going to get to New York with $25? I went back in my car and I’m crying again and I said “Man, God. I finally get a shot to get on TV and then I can’t even go.” I said “How could you do this to me?

I’m 30-something now, I’ve been waiting my whole life. And you get me here?” I said let me call this machine back and see if he said this Sunday. And I called it back and it said “Steve it’s Chuck Sutton from Showtime at the Apollo. We have an opening Sunday. If you can get here, give me a call, let me know, we’d love to put you on TV.” I said s**t. So I got ready to hang up, and I heard [beep] “You have another message.” I punched in the code and the message said “Steve Harvey, this is Tom Sobel from the Comedy Caravan. I don’t know where you are now, but I have a gig available for you in Jacksonville, Florida, to pay you $150 Friday night. If you can make the gig, let me know.”

I’m in Pensacola, so I called Tom Sobel. He sends me to this gig to make $150. I go the next night, I make $150, but I was so funny the club owner said if you stay the next night, I’ll pay you another $150. I got $300. I called Chuck Sutton at the Apollo and said “Hey man. I just got this message. If you still got room for me in New York, I’ll do it.” He said yeah, come on.

So I went to Eastern Airline, bought a round-trip ticket for $99 from Jacksonville, Florida to New York, performed on Showtime at the Apollo, wrote the joke that made me famous–Mike Tyson hit this fighter Mitch Green in the eye, and his eye started talking. And I wrote that s**t on the way to New York. I got a standing ovation on the Apollo. I have been on Television ever since that night right there.


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