On this day in comedy on December 3, 1979, Comedienne, Actress, Tiffany Sarac Haddish was born in Los Angeles, California.
Stand-up comedy is the ultimate art form for self-expression and in many cases therapeutic salvation. Tiffany Haddish utilized it for both. The offspring of a Jewish refugee father (who abandoned the family when Haddish was three years-old) and an African-American mother who was Jehovah Witness, Haddish soon found herself heaped in adult burdens. When she was eight, after her mother (who had remarried) was in a crippling auto accident that caused brain damage and schizophrenia. This placed the responsibility of watching her four younger siblings on her young shoulders. By age 12 the situation devolved to the point the family was split up and the children placed into foster homes. Haddish tried to use jokes as a means of making matters tolerable, but still found herself hospitalized with toxic shock syndrome.
Tiffany Haddish’s grandmother was eventually given custody, but the ordeal of being shuffled around had taken its toll. She was getting in trouble in school, yet showed signs of being artistically inclined (Haddish won a drama competition doing a monologue from Shakespeare). However, it got to the point here her social worker gave her a choice – either go to a comedy camp sponsored by the Laugh Factory or go into psychiatric therapy. Thus, the Laugh Factory Comedy Club became her saving grace. Mentored by established professionals she found her niche.
By 2005, Haddish was working in front of the camera. Her first television role was on That’s So Raven and the parts kept coming steadily from there (My Name is Earl, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Underground, Nick Cannon’s Short Circuitz, Just Jordan, Racing for Time, If Loving You Is Wrong, New Girl). Her on-going role as Nekeisha Williams on NBC’s The Carmichael Show established her as a scene stealer America needed to keep an eye on.
Tiffany Haddish stayed busy dong guest spots on shows such as Chelsea Lately, Reality Bites Back, Real House Husbands of Hollywood, Funniest Wins and she did films (Meet the Spartans, Janky Promoters, A Christmas Wedding, School Dance, Keanu, Mad Families) where she was good even in the ones where the same could not be said.
Then came 2017 – her star making year. She had the box office smash Girls Trip, the project that put her over the top and in everybody’s conversation. In the Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith vehicle, Haddish stole everything, but the cameras. Award nominations came piling in and while lips were still flapping Haddish dropped her Showtime comedy special, Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood and made additional history by being the first Black comedienne to host Saturday Night Live, not to mention being featured in a Jay-Z video (“Moonlight”) even though we just mentioned it and releasing her first book, “The Last Black Unicorn”.
Whereas numerous comics who find success in film and television abandon the stage, Tiffany Haddish never sacrificed the vehicle that allowed her the freedom for further success – stand-up. Besides touring, she appeared on Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes and Def Comedy Jam on her ascent and regularly returns to the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp to mentor the youth who need role models and guidance just as she did.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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