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Tiffany Haddish is more than ready in her new special Black Mitzvah

Tiffany Haddish
Photo: Lara Solanki (Netflix)
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While Tiffany Haddish has had an impressively long career as a comedian, she gained a majority of her fans after her breakout performance in 2017’s Girls Trip. Those who have followed Haddish’s career since her Def Comedy Jam days knew the film lived up to her promise as a stand-up comic and was evidence that she was, in fact, ready. While Girls Trip was followed up with some hits and some misses, overall, Haddish has proved herself an incredible comedic performer. That is, until she bombed at a New Year’s Eve show in Miami 2018. The show was so bad, she was forced to apologize after numerous publications picked up the story. The “I guess she wasn’t ready” jokes were obvious. What might’ve been a minor incident in any other comic’s career suddenly threw Haddish’s talent into doubt.

This is the stage where Black Mitzvah finds Haddish in her career. After Miami, it seems clear Haddish felt she had something to prove and this special is her attempt to prove it. Black Mitzvah is a celebration of all that Tiffany Haddish has done to get to this point and a showcase of the talent that got her there. The special starts with a musical number where she tells us she’s going to talk about Miami and everything else we want to know. Exploring everything from abortion, to being the first Black female comic to host Saturday Night Live, to living with her grandma, Haddish masterfully weaves the physicality of her early work with refreshing new material. Black Mitzvah wants us to know that Tiffany Haddish absolutely deserves to be carried on stage by a group of men before bursting into a musical number because Tiffany Haddish is a star now, and she can do what she wants.

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Haddish’s ability to tell a funny, relatable story—like her interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live! where she described taking a swamp tour with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith—garnered her fans because it gave us a glimpse into a situation few of us could imagine. She brings that same charm and likability to Black Mitzvah as she casually jokes about borrowing a suit from Beyoncé’s mom and getting calls from Kevin Hart, Sinbad, and Oprah after her bomb in Miami. Still, the material never comes across as out of touch—it’s more like your best friend cracking jokes about the time Drake’s dad hit on her.

By the time Haddish talks about that infamous New Year’s performance, she’s already made it clear she has the skill, talent, and timing of a professional. Even through a small mishap with her microphone, Haddish improvises jokes and doesn’t miss a beat as a crew works around her. She then shamelessly tells the story of the worst show she’s ever had. Her ability to take full accountability for her state that night is made even funnier by the embarrassingly drunk photos and videos she uses to accompany the bit. There are no excuses here, only jokes.

Haddish doesn’t run from the truth and her jokes thrive in sincerity. While other comics claim audiences are “too PC,” Haddish doesn’t seemed concerned with any of that—she’s just here to be funny. Haddish doesn’t avoid heavy topics, instead diving into everything from religion to mental illness, while making it clear that she’s “here to teach,” rather than punch down or punch up. If Black Mitzvah punches at anything, it’s those who doubted her. Jokes about her mother, her failures, and those who’ve latched on to her newfound stardom could come across as bitter, but Haddish’s joy and lightheartedness keep Black Mitzvah from sounding defensive or like a pity party.

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As Haddish’s star continues to rise, Black Mitzvah is a special that will stand as one of her best accomplishments. Whether you love the old Tiffany or the new Tiffany, Black Mitzvah is a stunning example of her talent and influence. Tiffany Haddish is funny, she’s a grown woman, and with Black Mitzvah, she doesn’t have to prove herself to anyone else.

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About the author

Ashley Ray-Harris

Ashley Ray-Harris is a stand-up comic and writer.