The stand-up comedian and actress opens up about her past and the perils of being a woman in comedy.
In her uncensored and often hilarious debut memoir, Haddish reveals pivotal events from her personal life that helped propel her toward the stage. “I got into the entertainment business so I could feel accepted,” she writes. “And loved. And safe.” After learning about the trials of her early years, readers will appreciate how trying to make a roomful of strangers laugh could prove easier than negotiating the minefield of the author’s home life. Though somewhat dismissive of her uncanny ability to rise above adversity, Haddish provides a colloquially written rags-to-riches story that is both impressive and harrowing. Abandoned by her father at age 3 and forced to live with her grandmother at 8, after her mother was in a devastating car accident that caused permanent brain damage, Haddish spent years taking care of her younger siblings or being abused while in foster care. She turned to humor as a defense mechanism, getting her comedic start as a teen working as an “energy producer” at bar mitzvahs around Los Angeles. Once her grandmother learned she would no longer receive financial support for caring for her granddaughter, she turned Haddish out, causing her to become homeless at 18. At 21, the author’s stepfather told her that not only was he responsible for the accident that had forever changed her mother, but that it had been meant to kill her and all her siblings so he could cash in on the life insurance. After learning this, Haddish says she started dating policemen. “It’s always good to have police friends,” she writes, “especially black police, because there aren’t a lot of them.” The author’s unrelenting positivity and openness about how insecurities about her own self-worth led to poor decisions later in life offer important lessons and hope for others seemingly trapped in toxic relationships.
Both entertaining and grippingly introspective, Haddish’s take-no-prisoners tale is a testament to self-will and how humor can save your life.