Comedian Tiffany Haddish loves to talk on the phone. She’s quick-witted and animated, and her conversation is peppered with wise cracks.
The Emmy Award-winning actress’ effervescent personality carries over into everything she does. Whether it’s hosting an awards show or Saturday Night Live, she brings it. And she’s ready to bring her party to the Comerica Theatre on Saturday, February 9.
“I’m excited to be coming to Phoenix,” Haddish says. “Every single show has been sold out and great. I sold lots of T-shirts and took pictures and pictures, then I ended up going to the club and dancing with everybody and having a good time.”
Life wasn’t always celebratory for Haddish, who made her film breakthrough as Dina in the 2017 film Girls Trip, which ended its run with a 90-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a $140.1 million take.
As she shared in her 2017 memoir, The Last Black Unicorn, the Southcentral Los Angeles native was placed in foster care at age 8 after her mother sustained a brain injury in a car accident and became violent toward her.
When Haddish was 13, her mother was committed to a psychiatric hospital because she was schizophrenic. Haddish got through it, thanks to her personality and imaginary friends.
She doesn’t want other children to suffer the way she did. On her tour, Haddish is hosting charity VIP meet and greets sessions from which 100 percent of the fee goes to The She Ready Foundation to provide suitcases for foster kids. Each venue, including Comerica Theatre, is giving 50 cents per paid ticket to the foundation as well.
“That’s super important to me,” Haddish says. “I was a foster youth. When you’re moved around like that, a lot of times you put everything in trash bags. It’s the worst. You feel like garbage. I’m going to make sure no other kids feel like that, if I can, if it’s within my power to do so. So, if you meet me, we’re working for the kids together.”
Haddish says drama teachers and social workers were inspirational to her.
Her charitable endeavors don’t end with her meet and greets. She also performs in a comedy show called Chuckles Not Knuckles, a program that promotes nonviolence among inner-city high school students.
“I don’t see myself as a role model,” Haddish adds. “But I hope people will say, ‘If she can do it, I can.’”
Not only is she a comedian, she has proven to be a versatile actress appearing in such diverse projects as the film comedy/300 parody Meet the Spartans, Night School with Kevin Hart, and the Lifetime drama Racing for Time, where she played a lead role opposite Charles S. Dutton.
Haddish showed off her comedic chops on a grand scale when she hosted the MTV Awards and Saturday Night Live in 2018. The first black female stand-up comedian to host SNL, Haddish won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.
“Saturday Night Live was fun once it went live,” Haddish says. “They couldn’t stop me, but it was a real learning experience for me. I’m a very creative person and I wanted to contribute creatively to it, but that’s a machine.”
She was allowed some input, but Haddish was told her job was to deliver the material in the skits and in her monologue. Haddish’s next project is voicing Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, which hits screens February 8. She has become an animated show favorite. She stars as Tuca in Netflix’s Tuca and Bertie, and as Daisy, a Shih Tzu, in The Secret Life of Pets 2.
“I’ve been doing cartoons for about four years,” says Haddish, who cites her influences as everyone from Roger Rabbit to Richard Pryor.
“I’m excited about Lego Movie 2. I saw some of it while I was shooting it. It’s really good. Cartoons are perfect for me. If you could see me – I love talking on the phone – my face is really animated. When they asked me if I wanted to be Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi, I thought, ‘I can be whatever I want to be, too.’”
Netflix has become commonplace for Haddish. She makes a surprise video appearance on the Netflix concert Taylor Swift: Reputation Stadium Tour, as “Old Taylor.”
“I love Taylor,” she says enthusiastically. “She’s my buddy. One day I got this call, ‘Hey Tiff’ – that’s what she calls me – ‘Be at this hotel and do this video. I just need you to answer the phone.’ I said, ‘Oh, OK.’
“We had fun. It took us about 30 minutes, then it was a wrap. I went to two of the shows. I didn’t know when it was going to come or where it was going to be, but it was a pleasant surprise. The energy in the stadiums was amazing.”
The same could be said for the rooms in which she plays.
“You can expect a whole lot of laughs,” Haddish says. “I talk about my experiences in Hollywood. It’s funny; life as a child prepared me for life now.
“There is a lot of hate going around. I just laugh at it now. The world has nothing on me.”
Tiffany Haddish, Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, 602.379.2800, comericatheatre.com, 8 p.m. Saturday, February 9, tickets start at $53.50.