When I first heard Beyoncé’s verse on DJ Khaled’s new single, “Top Off”—the only verse that matters on that track, FYI—I didn’t immediately think of Tiffany Haddish.
Yes, B rapped, “If they’re tryna party with the queen, they gon’ have to sign a non-disclosure” but I didn’t perceive that to be a diss to the rising comedian. After all, Beyoncé and NDAs go together like Tia and Tamera, red beans and rice, me and a body roll at a stop light. And sure, one imagines the ultra-private Beyoncé probably didn’t love Haddish appearing on TV One’s Uncensored and recounting how she saw Beyoncé step in when another woman flirted with Jay Z. But after Lemonade and 4:44, that disclosure doesn’t seem like it would warrant a jab.
Yet so many others recognized it as just that, including Haddish herself, who told Entertainment Tonight, “I was like [gasp] that’s me! I was so happy. I was like, ‘Ohhh I love me some Beyoncé! Where are them NDAs at so I can sign ‘em?’”
Haddish’s response, a mix of humor and humility, is what has made her so endearing to her ever-expanding list of fans. The 38-year-old comedian has endured poverty, the foster care system, molestation, and a throng of other traumas. And in her pursuit to become a successful comedian and actress, she infamously once lived in her car. After a slow but steady rise that included hilarious stints on the former NBC series The Carmichael Show or in the film Keanu, she is rightfully enjoying the opportunities and access following her breakout role in Girls Trip.
Opportunities like telling Kelly Ripa about the time she met Brad Pitt in an elevator: “He said in one year if he’s single and I’m single, we gonna do it, so you know what that means…But he do got seven kids, I don’t know if I could deal with a man that’s got that many kids.”
Opportunities like hopping over a rope at the Oscar red carpet to enthusiastically greet Meryl Streep.
When I saw these things happen, I knew they were par for the course—just Tiffany being her unpretentious self, genuinely elated to be around ultra-famous folks she only experienced previously through Netflix or The Shade Room. But I’ve noticed in recent days on Facebook and Twitter that quite a few seem to be concerned that what made Tiffany Haddish so popular might cause her star to dim. Comments like “Y’all gassed up that Tiffany Haddish chick off one role and created this annoying ass monster” or folks asking her to “calm down.”
I’ve also seen people claim she is embarrassing the race because she is “keeps doing the Nae Nae and using ghetto antics like taking her shoes off while she’s hosting and wearing the same dress at multiple red carpet events or jumping velvet ropes to run up on Meryl Streep suggest that she’s not capable of conducting herself with poise and class.”
Oh, and she “was given the honor of attending the Oscars not only did she Mispronounce several names during the original announcements.” You know, as if the Oscars itself isn’t an embarrassing, cynical spectacle. And somewhere, John Travolta is recalling his own troubles pronouncing names at the Oscars and offering a “Me, too, sis” in solidarity.
Of course, people swooped in on Twitter to defend Tiffany Haddish. And ideally, I’d love to ignore internet chatter from the insufferable. However, when I see folks from college, second grade, and that old summer job I had at Six Flags Astroworld (R.I.P.) sharing that same annoying Facebook post or sending me screen grabs of Instagram and Twitter, I feel compelled to respond.
If you take a gander at Tiffany Haddish’s timeline, you see that she has proceeded to respond, too—in some cases, searching her name to find reasons to clap back. I’ve already warned my beloved Cardi B about that, and I issue that same bit of unsolicited advice to Haddish. Generally, though, I need everyone to chill the fuck out.
When it comes to Beyoncé, she invited Tiffany Haddish to her Oscar party, so evidently, they’re fine.
As for Brad Pitt, it was a joke. Clearly. This should have been obvious to anyone who knows even a tiny bit about Tiffany Haddish. (In a Rolling Stone profile last year, Haddish said, “I’m not pregnant by Leonardo DiCaprio yet, but who knows what could happen?”) Haddish isn’t doing anything different from Kathy Griffin’s shtick of describing all of her celebrity encounters in her comedy acts. She literally released a book entitled Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index.
One wonders whether or not Haddish being “conventionally attractive” has something to do with this. More often than not, women in comedy have admittedly played down their looks in order to entertain sexist men who somehow wrestle with the reality that women can be fucking hilarious, too. Either way, Haddish should be able to joke about smashing male celebrities the same way men typically objectify women in the same medium.
And when it comes to her hopping over the rope: Being “too loud,” or anything that high saddity folks might constitute as, uh, being too ethnic in white spaces, roll into a ditch and stay there. Anyone worried about Haddish’s behavior needs to Google search the antics of Lena Dunham and Jennifer Lawrence.
If you’re bothered by Haddish being herself in these spaces, that says far more about you than her. Eventually, Haddish may have to change certain aspects of her comedic persona. After all, her star is only going to rise, along with the volume of her invitations to the most high-profile events. Even so, it’s up to her and her team to figure out how to cross that bridge once she comes to it.
Until then, let Tiffany Haddish be Tiffany Haddish. Let her enjoy her moment. Don’t criticize her; learn from her. All too often, many of us are told to alter who we are for access. She’s made it by being herself. It took some 20 years and she has every right to be as loud as she wants and do the Nae Nae until she’s 97 if that’s what she wants to do. She has earned it.