Mercredi, 17 juillet 2024
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    Just For Laughs with comic Gina Yashere

    Internationally-acclaimed stand-up comedian Gina Yashere returns to Montreal to perform at the Just For Laughs comedy festival.

    Born and raised in London to Nigerian parents, the British comic co-created and co-stars in the Chuck Lorre television series Bob Hearts Abishola on CBS and can be seen on Netflix in her own specials.

    At Just For Laughs, she will guest on the Brit(ish) series as well as star in her critically-hailed own-woman show Gina Yashere: The Woman King of Comedy in which she tells audiences how she made it in Hollywood from the streets of London. 

    Yashere and I recently sat down for a candid Q&A.

    You were the first Briton to perform on Def Comedy Jam, you appeared on The Tonight Show and The Daily Show. Do you prefer performing live or on TV?
    Live shows are fun because there is no censoring, I can say what I want. But I also like television because I can reach a wider audience.

    How did you get the role of Kemi in the CBS sitcom Bob Hearts Abishola?
    They hired me as a consultant for Chuck and Eddie (television writer and producer Eddie Gorodetsky) because they wanted the female protagonist in the show to be Nigerian. They found me on Google – believe it or not they literally just typed “Nigerian female comedian” into Google – because they felt they needed the Nigerian female community to help them write the character. I was living in New York at the time, came up to L.A. for a few weeks and sat in a room with them and basically wrote myself into the show.

    You are bringing your solo show The Woman King of Comedy to Montreal. 
    It’s about my origins in England and my coming all the way to America.

    You now live in California with your life partner Nina Rose Fischer. Do you miss the U.K.?
    I do not! Though I l do miss my family, friends and fans in the U.K. But living in the U.K. as a child, I knew I wanted to live in America from the age of four when I was watching American TV shows and the kids had better toys, all the kids live near a beach and they were always cycling around solving crimes according to these TV shows! 

    Has it been difficult for you performing as an out comic? Were you always out?
    I was not out at the beginning of my career, I didn’t come out for a good 10 or 12 years. When I first came out, I wasn’t even out to myself!  As a Black woman comedian, I was already sort of boxed in with certain expectations of what a Black comedian is supposed to be like and talk about, and I didn’t want to give them anything else to box me in with.

    I came out in the 90s when it wasn’t really that cool to be gay. Being a Black woman added another layer on top of that, so I was not out for a long time. I never lied about it but I couldn’t do relationship material, so I had to think laterally and talk about different things which kind of helped me in my writing. But it also stifled me.

    So, without making a big coming out, I started including elements of my real self into my set, and the moment I started doing that, my comedy got much better. I was always good. I was always really good. But I got great after that. Because then I completely opened myself up.

    Are you a lesbian artist or an artist who happens to be lesbian?
    Definitely an artist who happens to be lesbian. I’m also an artist who happens to be a woman and an artist who happens to be Black. I don’t like to be defined by my physical attributes or my preferences. Yes, I am a comedian. And I talk about whatever I want to talk about. I am definitely an artist who happens to be lesbian.

    You are returning to Montreal. Anything you and Nina are looking forward to doing in the city this time around? 
    We will rent bikes because we love to cycle around the city. I love practicing my French when I come to Montreal because I studied A-level French at school and I never get to use it, so I love doing that whenever I come to Montreal. I may move to Montreal, so I’m definitely going to check out a couple of condos and houses while I’m there too!

    Gina Yashere stars in Gina Yashere: The Woman King of Comedy at Le Balcon on  July 27 at 10 pm. Yashere also guest stars in the Brit(ish) series at Le Studio TD at 7 pm nightly from July 26 to 29.


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