Funny Girls

If you haven’t already, check out these upstart comedians the next time you need a good laugh

Kelley L. Carter

by Kelley L. Carter, March 14, 2014


Last year, cages were rattled—and since we’re talking about comedy, jokes were made—when NBC execs behind the long-running Saturday Night Live show were raked over the coals for failing to have a Black female cast member on its current roster. Heck, the show even made fun of itself when host Kerry Washington delivered a now infamous cold opening to the show that poked fun at its own lack of diversity, as it had the Scandal actress running amok trying to portray Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Beyoncé—all in one skit.

Whew! A sista was tired.

Thankfully, they’ve since made new hires with the casting of Sasheer Zamata and new show writers LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones, all of whom were discovered at auditions specially designed to seek out funny Black women. While kudos are due  those ladies, there are others out there who are making quite an impact on the comedy scene.

Move over, Issa Rae, Sherri Shepherd, Aisha Tyler, Loni Love, Sheryl Underwood, Whoopi Goldberg and others: There are some new femmes stepping up to the mic. Here are some sistas we’ve identified as the funniest Black women you need to have on your radar right now.

Funnybones, prepare to be tickled!

Jessica Williams

Where you’ve seen her: Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Reminds you of … Tina Fey meets Tracy Morgan meets Eddie Murphy

“There’s so much gold in being a Black woman: We can be very intimidating to people, and a lot of people project that we’re strong. It’s very cool to be able to be funny and scare people of other races a lot less. But most people are afraid.”

Make us laugh: “In day care I had a favorite teacher. I remember that she got pregnant with her kid, and I was a little annoyed. I was a little jealous. Then she got pregnant again. One time she was sitting and talking to another one of the teachers, and she was like, ‘Oh, girl, I am tired of having all these kids.’ I blurted out, ‘Well, maybe you should keep your legs closed!’ I got in trouble, and that really damaged our relationship, but that really opened up a big door for me that affected the rest of my life!”

Dream gig: “I’m writing my own stuff, and I want to start doing movies. I want to write and direct my own TV show.”

Amanda Seales

Where you’ve seen her: VH1’s Master of the Mix, MTV’s Hip Hop POV Reminds you of … Jerry Seinfeld meets Chris Rock

“There’s this idea that funny Black women are just being Black. We’re not given credit for actually being funny and having the gift of humor. By the nature of the Black experience, we have a certain innate ability to find humor for survival purposes.”

Make us laugh: “I have been threatened [with being beat up] at least six times in my life. I grew up in Orlando. I ‘talk White.’ I’m light-skinned. I was on TV when I was 12. All of these things were fodder for teenage girls in my school to be like, ‘You know what? You think you all that. I’ma kick your ass!’ But I was always able to get out of these altercations with my jokes. I remember when one girl told me, ‘I’ma throw you through that window.’ I was like, ‘Can we do it after Spanish class, though? ’”

Dream gig: “[Doing] multiple shows of my own and creating at my whim. Having as much money as I have ideas.”

Read the remainder of this article in the April 2014 issue of EBONY Magazine.

More great reads from Kelley L. Carter

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by Kelley L. Carter


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