​Why Steve Harvey laughs in the face of adversity

The comedian, "Family Feud" host and bestselling author says his expert advice on success comes from his life's failures.

CBS News

Steve Harvey marked his 58th birthday on his talk show with Martha Stewart joining in the festivities. It took many years -- and a lot of hard work -- for Harvey to get where he is. And he's not about to take any of it for granted. Special Correspondent James Brown has our Sunday Profile:

Steve Harvey arguably is one of the hottest daytime stars in show business right now. Last year, he won not one, but two Daytime Emmys as host of "Family Feud" and "The Steve Harvey Show."

"I tape 180 shows in 34 weeks," Harvey said. "And then as soon as I'm done, I go home to Atlanta to tape 'Family Feud.' And in eight weeks I tape 185 shows. And then every morning on the radio I do 240 live shows a year, every morning!

"The checks help get you there," he laughed. "The moment they quit paying me -- I'm exhausted!"

We caught up with him in Chicago, where he puts in long days recording his radio show and talk show under the same roof.

Brown asked Harvey about his appeal across the racial spectrum.

"It is that I'm transparent," Harvey replied. "My color's not a crutch. See, funny crosses a lot of color barriers. I'm going to take this God-given gift of being funny and I'm going to spread it out like peanut butter on everything I do."

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The comedian, "Family Feud" host and bestselling author says his expert advice on success comes from his life's failures.
CBS News

Harvey says he has always had the gift to make people laugh. He grew up poor in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Jesse Harvey, a manual laborer, and Eloise, a homemaker.

He credits his parents for much of his success.

"My father's one single role was to talk to me about manhood," Harvey said. "You work hard. You don't be lazy. My mother was a Sunday School teacher for 40 years. She taught me about God and faith and prayer. That combination has gotten me to where I am today, and I don't doubt that for one minute."

God and manhood are two constant themes in Harvey's life -- a life that has had a lot of ups and an equal amount of downs. He dropped out of college, and worked in a series of menial jobs, from assembly line worker to carpet cleaner, before he found his calling.

Brown asked, "What in the world pushed you into standup comedy?"

"I had, like, 11 jobs. I've been fired 11 times!" he laughed. "'Cause I'm not cut for that. You know, I was a great employee, man. Everybody loved me comingt o work -- I'm singing, tellin' jokes on the assembly line. I was miserable, man. I was dying. I was dying."

Because? "Because I always knew, man, that this was not my life. That there had to be more to this than that."

So Harvey took a leap of faith -- and trusted his gift.

"I won an amateur night, October 8th, 1985. I went to work the next day and quit my job."

"You jumped, big time!"

"Oh, I jumped completely! Because of all the things I had done up to that point, nothing I had ever done did the light bulb go off."

But success didn't come right away. He struggled to make it on the comedy circuit. He ended up homeless and living out of his car for three years.