Controversial Steve Harvey Jokes That Weren't Received Well By Audiences

After decades in the entertainment industry, Steve Harvey has no trouble performing in front of an audience. In fact, he established himself as a comedian at the beginning of his career. His sitcom "The Steve Harvey Show" thrived on air from 1996 to 2002, and after that, Harvey explored more roles in entertainment. From hosting a radio show to helming "Family Feud," the television persona is known for his jokes and on-air charisma.

Harvey decided to quit stand-up comedy for one very interesting reason: He claims political correctness has ruined comedy. When asked if he could ever return for a stand-up show, Harvey said that his jokes would not be up to par with today's standards. "The only way I can do one more special is that it would have to be to at the end of my television career," he told the Television Critics Association (per The Wrap). "We're in the cancel culture, and nobody, no stand-up [comic] alive that is sponsor-driven can say anything he wants to."

Looking back on his sense of humor from past and more recent gigs, it's clear that Harvey's jokes aren't always well-received. There are some topics that largely have been deemed off-limits in today's cultural climate, but it appears the veteran comedian isn't phased by the backlash.

Steve made many gaffes as the host of Miss Universe

Steve Harvey was the go-to host for the Miss Universe pageant from 2015 to 2021. In his first year hosting, the infamous crown switch happened: Harvey mistakingly announced Miss Colombia as the winner. Realizing his mistake, he then had to hand over the winning title to the correct contestant, Miss Philippines. Harvey faced backlash as the topic of social media conversation for weeks following — and despite the ordeal, he hosted the event for the next four years.

After this slip-up, one would think the host would err on the side of caution. However, in yet another instance with a Miss Colombia — this time, during the 2019 pageant — he made an insensitive remark. When Harvey was announcing the contestants selected into the top 20, Miss Colombia Gabriela Tafur poked fun at his past mix-up, saying "Are you sure you read correctly? ... You're forgiven, don't worry." Harvey responded: "You've forgiven me, the cartel has not," (via HuffPost).

Viewers didn't take well to the culturally insensitive remark referencing the Columbian cartel and took to social media with their frustrations live as the show aired. "That Steve Harvey comment about Colombia and the CARTEL was disrespectful! He should apologize," one frustrated viewer tweeted. "Thats [sic] not what we are, our artists, our landscapes, our athletes can speak LOUDER." 

It wasn't the last of Harvey's mishaps, as he mixed up contestants yet again over the years. Of course, the comedian is no stranger to outrage at the things he says.

Steve poked fun at the Flint water crisis

Steve Harvey has done many controversial things that some audiences seem to forget about. Just one example was a distasteful comment made during a heated back-and-forth on his radio show, "The Steve Harvey Morning Show." A listener from Flint, Michigan called in to diss Harvey's home team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, after they lost during the NBA Finals in 2017. In response, the radio host made a harsh dig about the caller's home city and its lack of clean water (per Michigan Live).

In a Facebook video, Harvey's cohosts can be heard telling him to calm down and apologize, which he refused to do. At the end of their back-and-forth, Harvey told the caller: "Enjoy your nice brown glass of water." Fans and fellow Flint residents immediately condemned Harvey's insensitive joke about the city's water crisis.

Mari Copeny, better known as "Little Miss Flint," called out the "Family Feud" host on social media. Councilman Wantwaz Davis, who represented Flint's fifth ward, said he wasn't surprised by Harvey's remarks after working with him in the past. "I cautioned people after the Steve Harvey show not to take this person serious," Davis explained to Michigan Live. "It made me extremely disappointed and upset, but I was nowhere near fooled by who this man is."