It took luck to get my hands on a Library copy of The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish because it is very much in demand. This week’s New Title Tuesday selection is not only a story of a survivor of emotional and physical abuse, but a testament to the philosophy that a person can survive brutality, abandonment, and homelessness. However, one must fight to keep hold a stronghold on hope, pursue a worthy purpose, and be willing to laugh as well as cry about it all.
As Haddish writes in the opening, “I know life is no laughing matter, but having experiences can be.”
Publisher’s Summary – From stand-up comedian, actress, and breakout star of Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish, comes The Last Black Unicorn, a sidesplitting, hysterical, edgy, and unflinching collection of (extremely) personal essays, as fearless as the author herself.
Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. If she could do that, then her classmates would let her copy their homework, the other foster kids she lived with wouldn’t beat her up, and she might even get a boyfriend. Or at least she could make enough money—as the paid school mascot and in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman—to get her hair and nails done, so then she might get a boyfriend.
None of that worked (and she’s still single), but it allowed Tiffany to imagine a place for herself where she could do something she loved for a living: comedy.
Tiffany can’t avoid being funny—it’s just who she is, whether she’s plotting shocking, jaw-dropping revenge on an ex-boyfriend or learning how to handle her newfound fame despite still having a broke person’s mind-set. Finally poised to become a household name, she recounts with heart and humor how she came from nothing and nowhere to achieve her dreams by owning, sharing, and using her pain to heal others.
By turns hilarious, filthy, and brutally honest, The Last Black Unicorn shows the world who Tiffany Haddish really is—humble, grateful, down-to-earth, and funny as hell. And now, she’s ready to inspire others through the power of laughter.
If you caught her Showtime stand-up show, She Ready, then you have a pretty good idea of the topics she covers in her book. A mentally ill mother who could not care for her, bullied by kids on the playground, beat by girls in the group foster home, and finally learning to read in ninth grade. Not actually funny stuff, but Haddish brings her energy and quick wit to frame her experiences in a second light.
As many comedians have admitted, Haddish learned she could prevent some of those beatings by making others laugh. Haddish had to be tough and able to take a punch, or she would have never survived the unchecked sexual harassment in the entertainment business nor the scheming-status-and-greed-driven women of the real-life soap opera that is Hollywood she encounters.
Fortunately, unlike many teens who suffer through similar situations, Haddish had two individuals – one specific social worker and a drama teacher – who made the right suggestions at the right times. The drama teacher discovered Haddish couldn’t read and took the time to teach her without embarrassing her. In addition, this same teacher tapped the natural talent and encouraged her to do competitive monologue. The social worker, tired of being called to the school because Haddish was being a too-edgy class clown, gave Haddish an ultimatum between the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp or psychiatric therapy.
These critical interventions made it possible for Haddish to experience other dimensions that life can offer.
And she was right in her introduction; her story of triumph over the conditions that would crush most of us provides hope and a justification to laugh and make others laugh even when things are horrific.
Happy Reading, Susan C.
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She Ready (Audiobook on CD) Rising comedy star Tiffany Haddish takes the stage in her hometown Los Angeles to tackle subjects ranging from her early days in foster care and being bullied on the playground, to getting her revenge on ex-boyfriends and introducing Will and Jada Pinkett Smith to Groupon. With a bold and unique style of comedy and her refreshingly positive outlook on life, Haddish proves she ready for the spotlight!
Girls Trip (DVD) When four lifelong friends travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush. Cast: Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish. Director: Malcolm D. Lee; Writers: Erica Rivinoja, Kenya Barris, and Tracy Oliver
We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union – In this collection of essays, Union tackles a range of experiences, including bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood, growing up in white California suburbia and then spending summers with her black relatives in Nebraska, coping with crushes, puberty, and the divorce of her parents. Throughout, she compels us to be ethical and empathetic, and reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support.
This Is Just My Face by Gabourey Sidibe – Gabourey Sidibe shares her one-of-a-kind life story in a voice as fresh and challenging as many of the unique characters she’s played onscreen since her unconventional rise to international fame in Lee Daniels’ acclaimed movie Precious. Her memoir hits hard with self-knowing dispatches on friendship, depression, celebrity, haters, fashion, race, and weight.
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