An African-American female comedian recounts how she escaped poverty and a life of crime to become a respected performer.
One of five children born to a single mother, Williams spent the first years of her life growing up in her grandfather’s illegal liquor house in Decatur, Georgia. Petty crime was a way of life: when she was 8, her mother, who did “anything for a little extra cash…except get a regular job,” taught Williams to pickpocket the drunks who visited the liquor house. Her grandfather’s arrest for attempted murder forced her and her family to move out. Surviving on her mother's meager welfare checks, Williams and her siblings routinely scammed churches for free food. Her mother then took up with a man who kept the family fed but sexually abused both Williams and her older sister. At age 12, Williams became the girlfriend of a married 20-year-old man, Derrick. She gave birth to the first of two children she would have with him and dropped out of school a year later. Derrick supported them with odd jobs and later with money he made as a drug dealer. When he went to jail, Williams started selling drugs; soon she had a thriving business. She made enough money to support herself, her children, and relatives who joined her small family to escape homes that resembled “the seven circles of hell.” Williams continued dealing even after she met and married a man who “didn’t know shit about case workers, eviction notices or eating ketchup sandwiches for dinner.” At 23, she earned her GED and sought job training. When she discovered that her criminal record made it impossible to secure respectable employment, a caseworker casually remarked that Williams had a gift for making the tragic seem hilarious. Both savagely honest and often genuinely funny, this is the story of how a resilient woman survived a harrowing early life and found unexpected salvation through humor.
Sassy, inspiring, and uplifting.