I recently read last month's Hollywood Reporter cover story on the break-out comedian Tiffany Haddish, a larger-than-life personality whose energy dial seems to be jammed in overdrive. In the wake of last year’s sleeper hit Girls Trip, the raunchy female-centric comedy has launched Haddish onto the main stage at the age of thirty-seven.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Haddish endured a traumatic childhood that lingered well into her adult years. When she was only a child, her mother suffered a serious brain injury in a car accident. While she eventually recovered, she was prone to erratic outbursts of anger that would often turn violent. It was here that Haddish first discovered the power of laughter, using it as a way to shield her siblings from a forthcoming beating. “She’d laugh in the moment, and then she’d remember why she was mad and come back and whoop my ass.”
Within a matter of years, Haddish and her siblings were dumped into the foster care system. At fifteen, a social worker enrolled Haddish in a comedy camp where she would meet her comedic idol Richard Pryor who confided some advice. “People don’t come to comedy shows because they want to hear about your problems. They come to comedy shows to have fun, so when you’re onstage, have fun.”
While Haddish has learned to cultivate a stage persona that leaves audiences in stitches, you get the sense that her compulsion to comedy will always channel the pain of those early years. Through her continual setbacks, enduring homelessness on multiple occasions, Haddish held fast to a childhood dream. Of building an empire and cultivating a household name that inspired future generations to confront their own circumstances and celebrate what lies within.