An outrageous comedian who clearly pulls from such influences as Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor -- but somehow ups the irreverence quotient many times over -- standup comic-turned-actor Katt Williams built a career vulgarly riffing on such subjects as Michael Jackson, middle-American evangelism, the incarceration of Martha Stewart, and the ironies of race in America (a favorite topic that found him making fervent use of incendiary epithets), to name only a few touchstones -- all of which gave him a widespread and loyal following, particularly among young African-American males. Born in Cincinnati, OH, but raised in nearby Dayton, Williams grew up as the child of politically and socially active parents and received outstanding grades and a slew of academic honors in school. In his late teens, he moved to San Francisco and temporarily joined the Nation of Islam, meanwhile honing a standup act at local nightclubs. Favorite venues that hosted Williams in the late '90s included the Hollywood Park Casino, The Icehouse, and The Improv; he also became a staple on BET's standup programs.
In 2002, Williams accepted one of his first screen assignments with a small role (as Money Mike) in Marcus Raboy's Friday After Next. Five years later, Williams finally had the opportunity to team up onscreen with longtime idol Eddie Murphy, who cast him as Lord Have Mercy in the farce Norbit (2007). That same year, he appeared in a minor capacity in the gag-laden Epic Movie and displayed a more sober side in the family-oriented Christmas drama The Perfect Holiday. In 2008 he released his debut album, It's Pimpin' Pimpin', on the Warner label. Meanwhile, the comic continually headlined standup performance films via such cable outlets as Comedy Central and HBO. ~ Nathan Southern