BY MELANIE ERNESTINA
When I say that Tacarra Williams is one of the funniest, sweetest and most down to earth people I have ever spoken to…just wow. Talking to her alone is like talking to a friend, or talking to your favorite auntie that’s not problematic like your other ones. She’s hysterical and uses her comedy in conversation effortlessly. This is just who she is. Any interaction with her is a life lesson, one that you didn’t know you needed. It was my honor to chat with Tacarra and this is why.
The people want to know, do you have a stylist? Your outfit for Bring the Funny slayed. It was all in the YouTube comments about this amazing dress you had on! Was that all you or do you have a stylist?
TW: Awww, thank you! It’s a dress from the website ASOS. And they had to add some pieces to is because it was really short in the front. It was a gorgeous dress. I really loved it.
A lot of your comedy is family based. How do you balance being a mom, being a comedian and how do those things ebb and flow into your daily life?
TW: Being a mom and being a stand-up comedian is just a blessing. And my kids get to watch me live a dream, ya know? They are right there with me watching this rollercoaster of a career which does have its moments. It can be difficult and challenging but I think that, you know, it’s all part of the process for me. I never thought I wanted to be a comedian; this isn’t something that I was thinking when I was 8 years old going, “I wanna do standup!” I never thought of that.
Oh wow, really?
TW: Yea, I had a really bad break up about 10 years ago and I decided to find myself. And I went to this audition, —I didn’t get it— BUT all the producers said, “You should be doing standup. You’re funny.” So, they got me a gig that night and came to the gig. It was about 8-10 minutes and I didn’t realize how healing stand up was and I’ve never stopped.
So you’re essentially taking your experiences and then putting them in a way that you can laugh and heal?
TW: YES. And even with my kids, you know, sometimes it’s difficult being a single mom and a stand up comedian but I always keep in mind that they are watching me and that they’ll pursue their dreams based on how they saw me pursue mine.
Have your kids mentioned to you, “Mom I wanna do what you do!” or have they mentioned what they are interested in?
TW: Yea! My 14-year-old daughter wants to play basketball and my son wants to own a skateboard shop and my 5-year-old wants to be an ice cream sandwich.
(And I hollered at this. When I tell you, I hollered and I oop’d) Listen! Live yo dreams, girl! Be that ice cream sandwich!
TW: She wants to be an ice cream sandwich so that she can have ice cream sandwiches all the time!
TW: But when they complain about the work that goes into it or they tell me that they’re too tired or that they can’t, I just tell them “I’m doin’ it though.” And even when they’re like, “HOW?!” I’m like, “Just stop thinking about it and go.”
(Recalling my Shia LaBeouf) Just do it!
TW: Exactly. You’re gonna freak yourself out and overthink it. You know what needs to be done. It’s one foot in front of the other everyday. Stop worrying about one week or two weeks from now. I know it’s challenging but we find a way through it. We laugh through it.
So we’ve seen you on Laugh Factory and Kevin Hart’s Next Level—
TW: (Proudly interjects) FIRST FEMALE HOST EVER. One of the longest urban comedy nights in the country, the first female host ever!
(And see, this is why I stan her already.) Congratulations! That’s that big boss energy that we NEED.
TW: I wanna give a shout out to the producer of the show, Mr. Pookey Wigington, the producer of the show. He saw me perform twice and just said, “You’re really funny and you’re different.” Couple of months later, I got a phone call asking me if I wanted to host a trial of the Chocolate Sundaes Comedy Show and I did. And then a month later they asked me to host. It was a big deal.
It’s a super BIG deal. So from that, how did Bring the Funny come about?
TW: Ok! So…
(I perk up. All good stories start like this.)
TW: I get a phone call. That’s it. It was from a producer and he explained to me who he was and explained the dynamics of the show and he said, “We want you to be a part of it.” I’m STUNNED. And I said, “Do you even know me?”
(I chuckle. Y’all should have heard the way she said it.)
TW: And he goes, “Well we’ve been asking around for a female comedian that we feel like the world can fall in love with. Your name continually kept coming up for weeks and everytime we asked about you, people just say that she’s hilarious—”
TW: “—she’s beautiful, she’s sweet—”
TW: “She’s a mom. She just got divorced and everyone thought she was going to just run back to NY and she didn’t. She stayed and she held her ground and we just wanted to offer you this opportunity on Bring the Funny.” And I said, “Ok, when is the audition?” And he said, “You don’t have to audition. We’re putting you on already.”
(The largest gasp) So basically he was like, “It’s already done. You ain’t gotta worry. You’re in,” type-of-deal.
TW: I said, “WHAAAAAT? You lyin.” And I found out a WEEK before the show was taping and during that week my son broke his jaw. He had a really bad fall. So I’m in the hospital and the nurses are helping me fax the paperwork over and printed the paperwork out. It’s NBC, so it’s a booklet and I’m like signing stuff and the nurses are like, “When you’re done, give it to me and I’ll fax it or email it. Whatever you need,” for the entire week! And they were so sweet.
TW: They said, “Girl, we gotta get you in! We got your son, he’s gonna be fine! Make sure that you sign here. Send it to me now. Don’t you need to have this in by 6:00 PM? Girl, it is 5:42 PM!”
That’s a community. It sounds like everyone was on-board to get you in!
TW: So I got in. I didn’t know what to expect with the show. I didn’t really know what the show was.
Ooh, so what is the setup of Bring the Funny? Is it a talent showcase?
TW: It’s a comedy competition with different types of comedy: sketch, stand-up, and variety comedy and all you have to do is be funny. Can you bring the funny? And I had no idea what I had gotten myself into but I walked away grateful that I had. I met so many amazing people during that process and awesome exposure. It pushed me to a level that I never imagined myself going to.
I love that it was NBC. Anyone can turn on the television and see you on a national television network. And for you being a beautiful curvy black woman on television, it’s powerful. You remind me of someone that I know and I think that’s what draws people into you. You represent someone that people know, a nice mom you know or a funny woman that you may have dated. With your beauty and curves, do you find that there are perks of being this beautiful black woman that is now front and center?
TW: I am! Everyone says that there’s a lane for everyone and I’m just finding my lane. Even with my comedy, I provide a voice for people that have these feelings and emotions even about these children that they have. We obviously love our children but we want to fight them sometimes! And so now I’m on tour and the name of my tour is Life After Divorce and that’s just saying that there’s life after these moments. Sometimes a divorce can be so tragic and then we’re left alone with our kids and this tour is just to encourage anyone that, hey! Get back out there and date. You’re going to survive now that you’re the only parent right now. It’s okay to be sad or confused but we have to keep going.
I think we all know someone that needs to hear that.
TW: Sometimes people make excuses. I have women in my DM’s saying they can’t because they’re tired. And I’m just like, I was working a full time job, in school getting another degree, WITH THREE KIDS still doing standup. I was exhausted. You can live a dream and be successful. You just have to put that work in.
Just do it.
TW: Exactly. And that seems to be the voice that a lot of women have deemed me to have for them. I talk about how I’m single and ain’t got nobody but I have a teenage son and I know he’s out there getting his. Or my daughter asking me to take her to Victoria Secret and I’m just like, “You don’t even have Victoria Secret boobs, yet! You don’t deserve a $50 bra. ” And I even talk about my 5-year-old being brutally honest and hurting my feelings all the time.
(Again, I’m cacklin’ hard.)
TW: And women come up to me after the show and they’re like, “I can’t stand my kids, either! Your show is so good!” It’s those little moments of like, finally someone said it! Someone understand me! That’s what I do this for.
I have a lot of mom friends —I don’t have any kids—
TW: (playfully interjects) Ooh, hold on, girl!
But I hear them talk about ‘Mommy Guilt’ and how they can’t stand their kid today and they’re asking, “Is that ok? Does that make me a bad mom?”
TW: No, it doesn’t make you a bad mom to want to fight your kid! They do stuff stuff that make us wanna–OOOOH! We all have those moments.
Who are your heroes? They can be comedic or non-comedic but who inspires you?
TW: I love my parents but my grandparents are my number one favorite inspirational people of all time. They always told me that I was different and going to make a mark on the world. They wanted me to keep moving forward, ya know. It was hard. I’m the third oldest of eight and I grew up in the south Bronx, in the projects and you can imagine what that life is like. At a very young age I knew that it was gonna be me. So when you realize that you’re gonna be the one in your family that’s going to create the blueprint and legacy for your family, you have to step up. I accepted that life was going to be challenging. Even now that I’m on tour, I miss my kids. I miss them so much but I have to explain to them that this is what it takes to put a stamp on the world. And I’m using laughter.
Are you the funniest in your family?
TW: I don’t even think I am! I think my other siblings are soooo funny. I never saw myself doing standup but the first day I did it, it was done.
You talk about using your stand-up comedy for healing, especially for yourself and how it’s gotten you through your breakup and divorce. Are you discovering new things about those breakups even though you’ve told the joke many times?
TW: Oh yeah! And what I often have to remember is that you’re not the only one! It’s not personal. We’ve all gone through it. You get to heal knowing that you’re not the only one. Sometimes we sit alone and we’re wondering why these things are happening to us but it’s not personal. When you have that frame of mind, your healing is a lot more effective and then it allows you to be more mindful of other people’s feelings as well because we’re all going through something.
(I am soaking this up like it’s a Super Soul Sunday.)
TW: So if I go into a store and the lady is having a stink attitude, I’m not going to have stink attitude back because I know what it’s like to have had a stink attitude the day before. So I’ll say something like, “You’re gonna have an amazing day, take a deep breath.” And they just look at me because–
You SEE them.
TW: YES. And then she’ll be like, “Girl, you seen that on my face, huh?”
So do these philosophies come from you being a life coach and having worked in the correctional facilities and how did you get into that?
TW: They really do. So, I started out as a substitute teacher there and then they offered me a full time job. I was teaching substance abuse, domestic violence, parenting, anger management, just overall life skills. And a lot of times the system expects rehabilitation to start after they get out of jail but that’s tough to do because life hits you again and it’s hard to focus on yourself when they’re re-adjusting back into society with life and kids and bills. So, they created a program where we start when they’re still in jail. Let’s start them now. And what made my classes more effective with the inmates was because I’m from that neighborhood. I have brothers that have been through this and I understood why they made those decisions that landed them there. I knew how to talk to them so they could recognize what they were doing and how to make that change for a new start.
Did that help you heal as well?
TW: Yes. I went through a divorce three years ago and it was hurtful. But by teaching those life skills, that taught me that my marriage was toxic and that I needed to get out.
Thank you so much for being so open and honest about that.
TW: Of course.
And it speaks to what you said about how we are not alone. We are all going through that and we find ourselves in these hard situations and it’s beautiful to see someone like you take that, turn it around, and put back out using comedy. Which, now that you are on your tour, where can we find you for this wisdom?
TW: You can find all my tour dates on my website and follow me on social media like Instagram and subscribe and follow me! I’m bringing the funny to your city!
Before I let you go, when you do have a moment of downtime, what is Tacarra doing? Is she watching a favorite TV show? Is she reading a good book?
TW: (She thinks for a moment) In my down time, hmmm. I just like spending time with my kids and we all climb into my bed and fall asleep. I wish it had something to do with a man but I ain’t got one of those, so.
LISTEN. You are going to find him. Like you said, there is life after divorce! Wendy Williams out here with hers. You’re gonna get yours! We all out here tryna be loved on.
Last thing, once the tour is done, what are you wanting to do next? A movie maybe? Who do you want to work with?
TW: I’d like a movie! I’d love to be in a movie with Tiffany Haddish! And right now I have a live action animation coming out that’s in development right now. And I’m getting into the acting so there’s a lot of things up and coming!
Ms. Tacarra, I wish you the super best on your tour, you’re gonna do amazing things and we’re gonna get Tiffany Haddish, girl!
TW: Help me! I need a Tesla! I need all of that! And I’ll come by and pick you up!