Celebrating the One and Only Tiffany Haddish
We are coming down off of an Academy Awards high and we are also in the middle of celebrating the best thing that ever happened to this world…women. There is a lot to celebrate but as I have said before, awards shows don’t do a good enough job recognizing the right things. So while I can appreciate a dope ass red carpet event, the Oscars missed a very important award category.
I’d like to call this, the “Who Gon’ Stop Me?” Award.
This award is important for a few reasons:
- It honors someone who is moving like a freight train through Hollywood.
- The award is named after a song by Jay-Z and pre-sunken place, Kanye.
- I made it up and it’s dope.
Because it’s Women’s History Month, this award is recognizing another Black woman favorite of mine and apparently everyone else. Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room or should I say, the last Black unicorn in the room.
The “Who Gon’ Stop Me Award goes to…
Ms. Tiffany Haddish!
(Everyone in the audience does the nae nae)
Just in case you ain’t poppin’ and have no clue why we all nae nae-ing right now, here is the criteria for receiving such an honor.
Tiffany Defines Herself (I will be calling her Tiffany throughout the piece because she’s my friend in my head)
About a year ago, I was put on to a TED talk by one of my favorite authors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, titled “The Danger of a Single Story.” I loved this presentation which is a cautionary tale about looking at people through a very limited and mostly negative lens. When we tell stories, especially the story of others we have to be careful not to summarize someone’s worth and life with one story.
Adichie says, “So that is how to create a single story. Show a people as one thing over and over again and that is what they become.” While Adichie was talking about entire nations, mainly her home continent of Africa, this applies to individuals as well.
Tiffany’s comedic career has blossomed out of sharing her stories. Comedy is not just about the punchline but the story. One story that she has told in interviews and in her standup is the fact that she was a foster child. While this provides material for her comedy, she ensures that this is not her single story. I remember seeing her on Snoop Dogg Presents the Bad Girls of Comedy where she has a discussion with her grandmother. Her grandmother gives her an important lesson about her body, comparing a young Tiffany’s body to a house.
She says, and I’m paraphrasing, “People are gonna try to break into your house. Sometimes men will try to sneak in the back door…You gotta keep your house clean cause no one wants to come into a dirty ass house…” Pretty much, be careful who you give the nookie to and as a woman, keep yourself hygienically correct and make sure a man will sweep your porch.
As I watched that special, I appreciated this anecdote so much. First off, I talk crazy shit with my grandma especially about my sex life. My grandmother is 82 years worth of melanin magic and womanly wisdom and I saw that reflected in Tiffany’s hilarious story.
But I think it’s safe to say that she is defining herself, her future and removing the stigma that can come with being from a nontraditional family. When you listen to her, you know that she came out of love.
Speaking of the danger of a single story…
Tiffany is redefining what it means to be a comedienne.
A few years ago, I watched a documentary called, Why We Laugh: Funny Women. It featured comediennes such as Joan Rivers, Whoopi Goldberg, Janeane Garofolo and other really funny and sometimes underrated women. We all know that men are seen as funnier than women which is why they make more money and get more opportunities than women (as they do in insert every other field besides stripping and cosmetology.)
But one of the things that struck me was the overall consensus that not only were women not seen as funny but the ones who were couldn’t be pretty. There was a formula to being a comedienne. Be a bit homely + asexual = a few laughs and a chance to perform stand up another night.
This was disappointing, disheartening, disrespectful and just what the fuck is dis? I like to think of myself as a pretty funny person. Fuck that, I’m hella funny. But seriously, part of me subscribed to the notion that pretty girls just go out and be pretty. They’re not comedians. Then here comes Tiffany, who we can agree is gorgeous AF, always looking dope and here she is getting plenty of laughs.
In the same special mentioned above, Tiffany performs in a pair of sparkling platform heels and she made a joke about her pinky toe “feeling dead than a motherfucker.” Again, how many women can relate to faking the pain to preserve their sexy? Women will damn near faint from the pressure on their feet until they get at least 10 good pics in their shoes. She was up there saying that beauty is pain and she was up there being beautiful.
While I’m sure that Tiffany was heavily influenced by Whoopi Goldberg, Moms Mabley and so many other women, she created a space for the women who were told that they don’t do comedy.
(Insert Pretty Girl Rock song here.)
Being the First.
Last but not least, as a woman who has carved out her own space in Hollywood, there’s no surprise that she is the first to do some pretty impressive ish. This is what Women’s History Month is about: women who were the first to ever do it, the best to ever do it and the ones who were trailblazers for others to do it better.
With that being said, Tiffany’s resume just keeps getting longer and stronger. If you don’t know what she’s been up to, you’re trash. Simple. But you can get out of the garbage can if you make a commitment to doing 10 Nae naes every morning, going on YouTube and looking at her standups and interviews and watching Girls Trip on repeat for 24 straight hours without any sleep or bathroom breaks. That’s extreme but you get my point.
Tiffany’s Firsts include…
– First comedienne to host SNL. We all tuned in to watch Tiffany Haddish’s monologue about sexual harassment in Hollywood, not feeling rich yet and of course the infamous $4,000 dress. We watched her pay homage to Coming to America in that dress as she barked like a dog across the screen. Those moments are priceless.
– First person to verbally commit to wearing her $4,000 Alexander McQueen dress multiple times and then executed. That dress was at the Girls Trip premiere, SNL and the Oscar’s. Why was this important? Because if you came from nothing, you know $4,000 ain’t no chump change so you gon’ get every penny’s worth. I respected that shit 100%. She is setting the rules and we not are not only living with it, we are loving it.
– Ok, so you might see this dress again as it was recently announced that Tiffany will be the first Black woman to host the MTV Movie and TV Awards. I am more than happy with seeing that dress another time if she’s in it living her best life. I’m a fan and as a fan, I’m wishing her and her dress nothing but the best.
The point is, she is making history and she is doing so unapologetically. She’s beautiful, funny, talented, humble (you see she’s a spokeswoman for Groupon) and more importantly, she’s human.
The question really is, Who Gon’ Stop Her?
Let me Nae nae over to my Educators (Heeeyyyy!)
– What does someone like Tiffany Haddish mean to our young people? Who are some other people that our kids are seeing and how are they impacted by the images that they see?
– How does someone like Tiffany Haddish go beyond the sassy, Black woman stereotype that we see so much in Hollywood?
– We are constantly telling our students to be resilient. Many of the programs and colleges that they will apply to will ask them that very question. How are we helping them to see the ways that they are resilient? Can we use stories like hers to inspire our young people? Not only that but let’s ensure that they don’t get trapped into a single story because they have so many experiences that are beyond struggle. We have stories of celebration all around us.
– Lastly, I want our students to carve out their niche and be dope in non-traditional careers. Some of the best laughs came from my classroom. I held space for kids to be smart and to be funny and more importantly, to be human.
If we keep doing the work and getting it together, who gon’ stop our kids?