The actor and comedian stopped by Reset to talk about cracking jokes, dealing with anxiety and calling Chicago home.
On his Chicago roots
Chris Redd: I was born in St. Louis, … [later] we came to Chicago and then we moved out to the suburbs right after that. So I went to school in the suburbs and I came out to the city right after I graduated high school.
Naperville sucked. I mean nice books, a little racism, but it was fine. I learned a lot [about] how to deal with people I don’t like, but I loved the culture of Chicago even though it felt segregated at times. … When I got into comedy, and even when I was doing music, going to different parts of the city, you were exposed to different types of people. And I feel like coming up here really prepared me to travel everywhere and tour and do comedy and be able to adjust to the energy of the room, not even the material, but figure out how to relate to people from all different types of backgrounds.
On dealing with anxiety in such a front-facing career
Redd: I throw myself in situations because I didn’t want to just succumb to that feeling, even when I didn’t know how to identify what that feeling was. … Nothing would make me more anxious than being in a club trying to have a conversation with people when everything is going on, … but I just did it anyway. And I was like, ‘Let me just get good at the things that scare me.’ And so I’ve always been good at just diving in. … I feel like you can’t be scared to try. You can’t be scared to put your all into it, otherwise you won’t see the outcome you’re looking for.
On becoming a cast member at SNL
Redd: Some of the most important things I had learned was that all the people that you loved in that show—do not try to chase the track that they ran because yours is gonna be different. No matter what the show looks like, no matter how talented you are, it’s always going to look different. To be inspired by Eddie Murphy is dope. To want to be Eddie Murphy is an insane thought process to have. That’s the type of things that kind of helps you keep grounded, but also I feel grateful. Every time I walk in that hallway, I’m like, ‘Man, I get to do this in the same building as this other person did this.’
On whether he’s “made it”
Redd: I feel like I have a great momentum going, and I’m building towards some other goals. Making it, to me, is like, if you’re living off your passions, then you’re living a good life. Making it, I think, is just a term that people say, but you never stop working. There’s never a point where I’m like, ‘Oh, I’ve made it.’ If you climb a mountain, once you’re at the top of the mountain, you’ve made it to the top. This is an ongoing mountain. It’s a mountain that keeps getting bigger, and this all depends on what you want to achieve and your goals. So for me, I’m just getting started.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to hear the entire conversation.