The Black Women in Comedy Laff Fest, founded by successful show producer and comedian Joanna Briley, is laser-focused on bringing awareness to the lack of diversity in the comedy industry. It amplifies the comedic voices of Black Women in the comedy community. The Black Women in Comedy Laff Fest 2021 was sponsored by Stand Up! Girls and Lois Thompson. The Joke Sistas will be part of the return of the New York Comedy Festival, Wednesday, November 10 at 9:15 p.m. at New York Comedy Club, 241 East 24th St., NYC. Tickets: $25 (w/two drink minimum). Reservations: 212-696-5233/ newyorkcomedyclub.com
This year’s event is precided over by Ms. Briley herself plus the talents of Meshelle, “The Indie-Mom of Comedy;” Mugga, Calise Hawkins, Erin Jackson, and Ms. Briley herself, all hosted by Glo Butler with “guest spots” from Hollie Harper and Moonie.
Moonie sat with ShowTones and shared her philosophy on comedy & life.
Tell us about yourself as an artist.
I am a lawyer turned Stand-Up Comedian and Screenwriter. I have always loved making people laugh and I fairly recently decided to take a leap of faith and cast my fears aside to pursue this fun-filled craft.
Why did you choose to be a stand-up comedian?
I decided to pursue stand-up after my Mom and one of my best friend’s both passed away from cancer. That really forced me to face my mortality and focus my attention on what I really wanted to do with my life. Fear held me back for years from doing this and the loss of these great people forced me to pushpast my fears.
What is “funny” to you?
Funny to me is where I can make fun of myself or the absurdities of life. Like why do we need 8 tags on a brand new shirt? By the time I pop all of the tags off, the shirt will be out of style. I love making fun of my girlfriend, family members and friends and impersonating them.I love making jokes about what others see, but are afraid to talk about.
What are the biggest obstacles in being a comic? a female comic? an African-American female comic?
A comic……The negative self-talk that occurs in my head sometimes. As an A type personality, I can be hard on myself if I bomb or don’t perform as well as I anticipated. Also, not comparing myself to others is challenging as well. Guess it’s part of being a human being. Female comic……There are many obstacles here: bookers, audience members and other comedians not thinking that you’re funny because you’re a woman can be very frustrating and discouraging. However, just like the law, this is a VERY male dominated industry so it’s not something that I allow to affect me because I am accustomed to being the only woman on a line up or a deposition. I know how to navigate being the token in most arenas in my life. Black female comic……There are many obstacles here: bookers, audience members and other comedians not thinking that you’re funny because you’re a Black woman can be very frustrating and discouraging as well. Decision makers are typically white men in this arena and countless others; as a result, members of these groups have a tendency to believe that Black women are not as funny as their white male contemporaries and can’t “bring it”. And if these groups believe that you’re not funny just based upon your appearance, you’re likely not going to get any stage time to prove yourself and without stage time being successful in this business can be challenging. Overall, I try not to focus on being the only Black woman in the line up, but simply focus on aiming to be the funniest person in the line up and doing my absolute best every time I touch that stage.
How does CancelCulture affect your act?
It makes me hesitant to say certain off the color things that I may say in the privacy of my own home or amongst close friends and family. CC definitely serves as a muzzle in some ways because one can never know what word or joke will be triggering or offensive to every person in the audience. It’s virtually impossible to not offend at least one person; as a result, I just focus on writing what I think is funny while also balancing being mindful and respectful of others.
How has CoVid affected what you do? Does CoVid play into your act?
Covid affected my comedy because when Covid hit, I was doing comedy for about 7 months and was slated to perform in the Finals of SNL’s Kenan Thompson’s national comedy competition in April of 2020. To date, it has yet to occur. I am hopeful that it will occur in the near future.I did not feel inspired at all to do zoom comedy shows during the pandemic. Instead, I wrote my first feature film with my sister entitled “Butch Baby Mama.” It’s a comedy that I wrote for myself to play the lead.
What is the “message” of your material?