'Your compliments have not cured my depression. Yet!'
Listen to my hilarious interview with Brooklyn-based comedian Sheria Mattis
Why Are You Funny is my interview series where I highlight queer QTPoC comedians and comedy writers on their funny writings, thoughts, and selves.
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Featured: Sheria Mattis
Sheria Mattis is a Brooklyn-born and bred comedian, writer, and actress. She’s written for Reductress, Netflix is a Joke, Leslie Jones, Fran Drescher, and others, and has been featured in Standup NBC. She was a semi-finalist for the Funny Women Awards, and she can be found cracking jokes around NYC.
Now, YRU Funny interviews are typically shared in written form. I really admire the art of interviews, and it means a lot to me to carry on that practice of Q&A-style essays.
Also, I love podcasts. However, I wouldn’t call myself a podcaster.
You will not find the professional audio of a pro mic nor the sharp transitions of a skilled editor in this interview.
What you will find is total hilarity and genuine fun between two Black queer creative folks. Ya’ll, I haven’t had this much fun on a zoom call since March 2020.
For those of you that love a good read, check out the abridged version of Sheria Mattis’ interview on Medium.
As for the audio above, you can find the direct transcript below…
Sheria Mattis - YRU Funny Interview Transcript
JAZ: Hi. This is Jaz Joyner, and this is Why Are You Funny, my interview series where I interview queer, Black and brown comedians and comedy writers about their funny writings, thoughts and selves. This particular interview, I'm focusing on the amazing Sheria Mattis, a Brooklyn based comedian who's written for Leslie Jones, Netflix is a Joke, Fran Drescher. She's been featured in stand up NBC and was a semi finalist for the funny women awards. Now, usually I only share these interviews in written form, the transcript, but this particular interview was so much fun and ShEria Mattis is so amazing that I thought I would share this with you all so you could just see how hilarious she is unadulterated. So, without further ado, here's my interview with Sheria Mattis.
I want to know how, growing up in Brooklyn with Caribbean parents, how does that influence your comedy stuff?
SHERIA: Listen, the trauma is really good for comedy, but also, like, my mom was really funny. My mom has always been very funny and very charming. My dad also very funny, very charming. So I think definitely that influenced me very, like, a high pressure, lots of discipline.
Also lots of mental illness, a lot of it all up and through both sides of the family. And so all of that is what makes comedy, like, everything's comedy.
JAZ: It's true. So you talk about, like, your parents were really charming and funny and everything. So were they some of the like, what made you laugh growing up, other than your parents?
SHERIA: I watched a lot of Comic View on BET, coming to you six nights a week. Do you remember? If you're too young for that, you might be too young for that.
JAZ: I'm 31. Yes.
SHERIA: I watch a lot of Comic View. I love the queens of comedy and the kings of comedy. 1s I watched a lot of comedy schedule. I was a comedy nerd, I think, from the beginning. I used to do Chris Farley impersonation as like a baby, you know what I mean? Just a little chubby black girl doing Chris, doing fat man and little coat for nobody, for nobody alone. Just like they were worried. Everybody's worried. But I think I had a lot of rough stuff happen in childhood, and I think when that kind of stuff happens, you have to find humor somewhere.
And luckily, I kind of grew up in a time where some of the greatest and funniest people were available today seen at any time, you know what I mean? I grew up in front of the TV, and, you know, I really wasn't allowed to go nowhere.
JAZ: That helps,
SHERIA: Especially when we live in a really rough neighborhood.
SHERIA: Never let me go anywhere. So I was in the house watching anything I could get my hands on. I think that was how I dealt with trauma, and that's how learned to communicate. And I'd always been in love with comedy if not thinking that I could actually do it right.
JAZ: You named Chris Farley, but what are some of your other comedy inspirations?
SHERIA: Yeah, see, I love all the problematic men. I've just been disappointed and disappointed for no reason because I watched a lot of, like, I love Louis CK. Was my favorite comedian. My favorite, too. I Love Louie CK. I loved Dave Chappelle was also like dave Chappelle was my favorite Chris Rock. And also like Maria Bamford. She still hasn't disappointed me. Love her down forever. Random people like Elvira Kurt, Wanda Sykes, of course. Wanda Sykes. Like, every special that she had. Even, like, when I was depressed and in college, I got into Bill Hicks. And Bill Hicks, even he has some weirdly homophobic jokes or whatever. All the people that will disappoint you eventually, I was into. Cause, like, that was, you know.
Monique, Big Monique. Like, I Coulda Been Your Soulmate was one of those, like, Yes. It doesn't get the respect that it deserves. It doesn't. It is an incredible special for exactly the people that deserve comedy. And it mixes, like, hearing people's stories and then integrating rating into her comedy. It's just a genius. And it's hilarious. It's such a funny special. Yeah. I would say those were my biggest comedy influences.
I never got into Bill Cosby like that, so luckily.
SHERIA: I loved The Cosby Show, but I was never to Bill Cosby stand up like that.
JAZ: Okay. One of the problematic ones slipped through.
SHERIA: Slipped through the cracks! I don’t know how!
JAZ: I wish I could say the same. It's like, oh, no. But I mean, he joked about it. So.
SHERIA: Were you a fan of Bill Cosby?! Oh God. What did you think W. Kamau Bell's documentary series about it?
JAZ: I think it's wonderful. It’s really well done. Like, that is how you do it.
SHERIA: Don't separate the man from what he did, because that is a part of it. You know what I mean? It's perfect. It’s perfect, it’s everything. I loved it. I loved it. I thought that was genius.
JAZ: Yes. I even recommend it to my mom, and my mom is like a Bill Cosby stan. She’s like, I don't want to hear about it.
SHERIA: Okay. She's not like a truther.
JAZ: She doesn't want to talk about what he did, because it's not that she doesn't believe it. She's just like, don't bring down a Black man.
SHERIA: Yes. Yup! That's the goal.
JAZ: So I was watching or listening to some of your interviews, and you talked about how comedy writing was your first love. Like, you love stand up, but you started doing stand up because of your love of writing.
SHERIA: Where did you get this information? You work for the CIA or something? I don’t remember where you got that from! But yes, that is true. That's honestly, that's the ultimate goal. I love stand up, and I fell in love with it more as I was doing it, and I think I always want to do it, but that was not the intention. The intention was I wanted to get into a comedy room, and I'm still trying, but I didn't go to Harvard. I didn't write for the Lampoon, and I don't have any famous cousins.
JAZ: That part.
SHERIA: I was like, I guess I got to do stand up right? When you don't have that.
JAZ: For sure. Did you write growing up?
SHERIA: Yeah, I wrote a lot. I wrote Fanfic a little bit. Cut that out.
JAZ: Wait, for real? I will.
SHERIA: I really did. I really did write fanfic. I really did. I wrote Fanfic. I used to write stupid stories. I wrote terrible poetry when I was young, and my mom had me, like, recite it all over the place, and I recited on TV shows and stuff like that. Yeah, I always loved writing. I always wanted to be a writer until I got depressed and became, like, a grown up, or tried to become a grown up. And then I was like, ‘Well, that was silly.’ And was working in financial administration, but I've always wanted to be a writer. I visited comparatively. I used to love to read. I don't read as much anymore.
Yes, I was always but comedy writing, I don't know why. I don't know why. I never really thought that I could ever do it until, like, a few years ago. I never really thought that it was something that I could do until a few years ago.
JAZ: Yeah, that's interesting. That seems to be true for most people I talked to. Most either Black or queer or Black and queer people I talk to. I never thought about comedy writing. I was, like, writing other things, but I can think of several reasons.
SHERIA: I was going to say. I was like, I wonder why. Because you want to write about your experience and you want to bring your experiences to something. And if every TV show, every comedy TV show and movie is about, like, you know, white, disaffective suburban. Straight. You're not going to see yourself, and you're going to be like, who's going to let me in a room? And what are they going to let me say? So you don't even consider it. You don't even consider it. When people started busting open those doors, which is what I realized, people just bust them them open. Then I think a lot of us, like queer, Black weirdos just were like, wait, maybe people will hear my story. We'll see. Right?
JAZ: So you've been doing stand up for a few years now, right?
SHERIA: Yeah, since 2019.
JAZ: Okay. How long do you feel like it took to figure out your flow or your style?
SHERIA: I'm still doing that. Okay, well, to figure out my flow. You know what, it's so weird. I think because I was such a comedy nerd for so long and because the only reason why I never tried stand up for so long was because of my anxiety and my depression, that was the only reason why. And once I was medicated and introduced to meditation and yoga and felt comfortable and tried some acid and felt comfortable enough in my skin to go on stage, I think sorting those things out came quicker to me than I think most people at this stage of the game. You know what I mean?
SHERIA: But I think also knowing more of who I am helped me kind of craft my legs flow and the things that I want to talk about and my voice on stage, it's still evolving, so who knows?
JAZ: Yeah. It's so interesting because I've watched a few of your sets, like on YouTube. No, it's great the way that you easily flow through jokes. I can see your inspiration in that, and it feels like you've been doing it for a long time.
SHERIA: Oh, my God. I love that. Thank you.
JAZ: I just wanted to ask. It's just really interesting that you did that.
SHERIA: Thank you. Yeah, I steal. I steal that flow. I feel like from my influences, I hope that you can see who I love, or who I loves through my stand up. If you can see that, you got a good, keen eye. Yeah, thank you.
JAZ: Yeah, definitely. So when you first started stand up, what motivated you to keep going?
SHERIA: Wanting to be in a writers room really motivated me. But also. Like. Started to fall in love with saying things that people aren't saying or people aren't talking about or things that people aren't talking about in a way that isn't. Like. Academic or pedantic or being able to get my message across and have people come up to me after the shows and be like. Oh. I have fibroids. I also have long titties. When that started happening, that's when it was on and popping. That's when I was like, yeah, that's what I want to do. That it for me. So, yeah, like, talking about shit that you can't do at dinner party, and that, like, opening up a line of dialogue that nobody that's what made me really like, yeah.
JAZ: You've got to be the first person I've heard made jokes about fibroids, which I really appreciate, because back in day, when I used to have periods, it was horrible, and I'm sure it was because of fibroids. I didn't know.
SHERIA: Did you have oh, no. You don't know? You didn't know?
JAZ: I didn't know. I'm not sure, but it just sounds to me like, I did some research about it. I was just like, wow, that's got to be it. My partner has the same issue, and she's just like, I want a hysterectomy. This sucks. I hate it. So I'm just like, no one talks about it, literally no one talks about it. Why? It's so common.
SHERIA: And I've talked to other comics with fibroids and, like but talking about it is a big deal for people in a public way. It's just a big deal for people, and I wish it weren't because it's such a basic reality for so many of us, you know what I mean? Like, I can't imagine what it must be like to be a trans man with fibroids. With fibroids. Like, no, you got the biggest balls of everybody. Good, though.
JAZ: I haven't had my period in a minute, but if I did.
SHERIA: That probably shrunk them. Do you feel them? It wasn't as bad as you could feel them. You were just having the symptoms and stuff.
JAZ: I feel like I did feel them. Like, my periods were just horrible and, what else could it be? It has to be that.
SHERIA: It could be though, it could be a many of things! There's endometriosis. There's so many fucking things that nobody is talking about that is affecting everybody. So you're just walking around in your body body being like, well, this is a mystery.
JAZ: They definitely don't joke about it because it's just like you don't even want to bring it up.
SHERIA: That's right. My mom had fibroids and never talked about it with me until I was far down the line about to get a hysterectomy. It's crazy.
JAZ: So I watched Weekend Puppy. I loved it. It was really bizarre, really funny. And I want to know what you learned about comedy writing when you did that job.
SHERIA: You know what? That was my first time doing any kind of writing that would be I would say that was my first writing that was like I felt a part of and that like I was being presented to people and stuff like that. I have to like I think when I was doing week, it was, like, a difficult time. It was during the pandemic, it was during the uprising. It was all that stuff. And then and then I was asked by Ricky Glore, Ricky Glore.
I really appreciative of him for reaching out and asking me to send something and vibing with it and letting me kind of and I loved having I still have my puppet. I need to do something with her. Her nose fell off. But being able to do that was a really fun, interesting headway into writing something, because I get very nervous about putting stuff out there. I still battle this, like, anxiety and stuff every goddamn day. So having the deadlines and having something that I wanted to say when we were doing, like, the defund the police thing, I believed in that shit. It. It was at a time where I still believed that we could make a better world, and I believe that comedy could make it happen and blah, blah, bullshit. I'm less optimistic about it now. But, like, at the time, it was something that I really cared about, and I was like, I'm going to change some minds through comedy. I don't know if we did that, but it was really fun to try. It was really fun to try. Yeah, really dope shout out to Ricky Glory for being that bitch. Right? We love you.
JAZ: Yes. So I want to talk about Netflix is a Joke, which is really dope, really cool. I don't know what that look means, but maybe we'll find out. So it's like a huge network, like, highly sought after gig. And I'm just wondering, just as a writer trying to get into the industry, how did it feel to get kind of like a such a culturally respected position like that or gig like that.
SHERIA: Nigga, we made it! I really believed, you know what I mean? It felt like such a huge, amazing door. And it was a door opening, an opportunity. It truly was. It was also really difficult and not what I was expecting it to be, right? I was not expecting, I'll be real. There are some things that are literally not allowed to talk about with them. They keep their shit on lock, you know what I mean? So, like, I had some really difficult experiences there. But it kind of anything like getting getting that job and seeing my work on a platform like that. Even if it was just like social media stuff, it still felt like and I made good contact. I wrote for big people that I really respect and they liked my work and stuff like that was very cool. But it showed me that media needs something. Something a little more ethical and stuff like that, and that I am not ready to kind of sell myself completely. I'll sell some of it! But that's the whole thing. I mean, come on. Capitalism rant. That's really how I felt. I was like, I got to get into a room and do the thing that I got to do, and it's really money wise. That was great. I would say that. I will say that it was great. My job now? More money. But, like, yeah, more money and way less stress. As much as they stress me out. Way less stress.
JAZ: That's good.
SHERIA: And I feel more respect than I did over there. But I think I realized you got to make the money to make your things, right? So I took the money, and I did some classes, and I had people look over my scripts and then, like and then doing the classes. Like, the people who connected me. Like, shout out to Alison Flyer, who wrote for BoJack Horseman, who wrote for us. And she believed in my weird little Fibroid script and sent it on and got me. Now. I got a manager. Like, it's moving. I'm. It wasn't what I wanted and it wasn't what I expected, but it was definitely what I needed. It definitely was what it was the push that I needed to really make the things that I believe in.
JAZ: Something like you saw behind the curtain and got to like just a little bit, and I was like…
SHERIA: Yes, I feel that.
JAZ: Yeah, I have similar experiences where I'm just like I'm at the point now where it's like, well, I'd rather just figure out how to make my own thing. That kind of sounds like what happened with you.
SHERIA: It's like journalism?
JAZ: Well, I want to do comedy writing, and I had a manager, but she was urging me to work with a network, and I didn't really want to do that. She was like, this is what we're together for, and I'm not just going to work for you for free. You got to get jobs so I can get paid. So we split ways, but it's just like, okay, so that's what I have to do then maybe I just got to do it myself.
SHERIA: Yeah, like Mikaela Cole did it herself. Issa Rae did it herself with a little more resources, but they did it themselves. They said that, I'm just going to do it and look what happened. And I honestly don't think the things that they made that are so precious to the culture at-large, I don't think they would exist if they hadn't just said, fuck it, and you got to just say fuck it.
JAZ: Yeah, absolutely. That kind of brings me to the next thing, which is your YouTube series, Black Girl Feeling, which I love and you're cringing, but I love it and it's great. It's really honest and funny. It seems like a snapshot of your community style, but then also a little bit of your personality, whatever you're comfortable sharing. To me, it's like because I know it's something, I don't know if it's in one of your Black Girls Feelings episodes or in something else that I watched, but you talked about how you're uncomfortable with social media and constantly having to release content. So is it like a response to that?
SHERIA: Yes. Really? It was a response. It was the kind of thing, that thing that still rings true, that I'm really anxious about social media. And it was a response to I just started because my aunt died and I had so much on my mind and I was kind of trapped in the house and just writing, writing, writing, and I was like, okay, need to release content. I need to do a thing because that is very important and. And I made it. And I think people responded so well with it. And if I had kept it going and if I were more dedicated and disciplined with it and less. Dead ass what happened was half it was I was going through the surgeries. I was going through the because before the hysterectomy was the surgeries, I was dealing with the effects of menopause. And I was like, oh, let's talk about this and let's put it on the Internet. But the thing is, when you put things on the Internet, yes, it resonates with a lot of people. In fact, more people will resonate with it than will hate it, but there will still be haters and they will still hit you up. And even the people who aren't haters will still message you and get really in your business. And I was surprised with how uncomfortable I felt with that with DMs, about not DMs, like, being like, hey, girl, I'm also going through the same thing. DMs are like, don't do this hysterectomy here's a bunch of studies about why and like, don't let the white man take your uterus. Look at what Oshun said. And it's like, listen, I don't want you and people being like, you shot. Don't do this. Why? You can't do this. And I know that. And yet I was like, there is so much chaos in my life at the time uterus I just didn't have the emotion energy to deal with it. And you have to in order to get engagement, you have to I needed to get I still need to get to a place of peace within myself that I think I haven't achieved in order to be the content creator that is required of us, of me during this horrible time in history where you have to be constantly creating, creating out, put everything out there all the time, and then for what? You know what? Let's get into it. The reality is, what if it started to pop off and I became a micro-Internet celebrity? And now that's a stupid thing to say because the shit got like, 400 views. Top but that scared the shit out of me. Even the prospect of that and the prospect of it happening while I was actively going through a hard time, as much as I wanted to share it, I did not want to be in the spotlight when I was there bodily in a month. I just didn't. And I think that's some stuff that I really need to process. I really need to process how I can be more emotionally disciplined and more like, just disciplined as far as putting myself out there and comfortable with my image and comfortable with being perceived in a grand, grand scale and reached out to and talked to all kind ways. If I can get to a place of inner peace and discipline within myself, I think I'll be able to handle it the way that everybody else seems to be able to really handle it, but I'm just not there yet. And it's about accepting where I am and figuring out how I can do the things that I have to do. I chose this, so I got to figure it out.
JAZ: Yes, I have very similar sentiments. I left Twitter. I stopped writing for, like, a couple of years. I mean, stop sharing my writing for a couple. I was sharing really personal things, and people have opinions, and like you said, it's usually mostly good, but it's like.
SHERIA: Even if it's misspelled, like, a weird PFP, you know, they ugly. You can tell they ashy just from the comments. It doesn't matter. It still hits you. Especially if you're I'm a sensitive bitchy. I am sensitive. So this shit, it'll hit you just a little bit, but sometimes that little bit will be just, you know, I still got to talk to my mama. Are you still off Twitter?
JAZ: So I have a Twitter for this. But I don't have one for myself anymore.
SHERIA: Good for you. Twitter is actually the easiest of me. Instagram is the one that sends me into a full on spiral.
SHERIA: Instagram and Facebook. Those are the ones I just can't I think it is. I think it's the images I do get that thing of, like, everybody is so well and happy and their bodies are great, and they're all in love, and you don't have any of those things within 5 seconds of being on Instagram. And I know that it's not real. This is a curated version of everybody's life. But it does hit me. I'm so sad. You know what I mean? I've got rotary phones. I don't know, I'm just not built like everybody else. So able to take in all of this and still move through the world and be really secure in yourself. I think that requires something that I think I realized. I thought I had done so much work while I was in Asia, and I think I realized once I started getting to that phase of the content creation phase that I had to go, but that I was like, oh, great, you're so crazy. It's still some work to be done.
JAZ: When you share so much of yourself and you are mentally ill and you try to do it, I don't know what the happy medium is. It sounds like you're getting closer to it, but it's just I feel like there's something in there that maybe the people that do well are neurotypical or their mental illness works well with it. I don't know. But there's some kind of happy medium in there that some people seem to figure out.
SHERIA: Yeah, I think just have some sort of, like, yogi, like inner peace. A little crazy, just in the right way. Either one of those. I love you were talking yourself out of having bipolar disorder
JAZ: Yeah, I was like I probably never had mental illness. Having a manic episode. I don't know why they would diagnose me with that when that was never the case for me.
SHERIA: Yes, I'm the same with my depression. I'll be butt naked, covered in cheese, sobbing like, you just need to get your shit together, bitch. Like, no.
JAZ: I'm going to change the subject again. So what is your writing process? Process? Like, or do you have a process?
SHERIA: I do have a process, but it is horrible. It’s chaos. I come up with a story. Just like if I come up with a story, I'll come up with the seed of a story and I'll be like, ‘Is that something?’ And sometimes I'll come up with a story at an inopportune time time and I'll just kind of space out and just focus on that. And then I'll be at the wrong train stop or whatever. You know what I mean, like that. But once I have that, if I can write that down fast enough, then I'm like, all right, let's fucking first I have to pump myself up to do it. Then I finally do it. I procrastinate the fuck out of it and I finally sit down and I do it. And really what I do is I will start writing. And then I'll get up and I'll pace and I'll mumble and I'll talk to myself for stand up. A lot of it is just me talking to myself out loud, which is really weird. It's what I do. It's why I like to be alone. Like, when I had roommates, they were like, what the fuck is her problem? Because I was just talking to myself all the time and laughing. I've become my father. I do that. I mumble, I talk to myself. Then I'll either write it down here or I'll write it down on the computer. I never really sometimes I sketch things out, like, I'll outline things, sort of. But my handwriting is terrible, so I usually do I type it in some way. And then if I'm in the group, I'll write and write and write. When it comes to scripts and stuff, I have to force myself to get the computer inject to it. And usually I just do it and it's bad. And then I revise and I revise and I revise and I revise and then I finally get the courage to show it to someone and then. I have to revive again and again and again. You know what I mean? Like, it's a lot of that with stand up. That's trial and error with stand up is actually I've noticed, you know, whether a joke works after you try it a few times in a few different rooms, and then either your pride is going to stand in the way, or you're going to have to give up that joke. You're just going to have to let it go. And then I'll let you go, and I'll bring it back a little bit, and I'll either be like, oh, that actually worked this time, or okay, they looked for that in the garbage where that belongs, that kind of thing. But I type I think it's very chaotic. I wish it were a better, cleaner process. I really do, because when I am writing, especially when I'm revising, I'm just like this little parrot, just smelly and weird just in my body, just babbling to myself, like, it's not cute at all. So I don't know, I should probably try a better system, for sure.
JAZ: It sounds like you find whatever works for the moment.
SHERIA: Yes. Or doesn't work.
JAZ: You mentioned you have a manager. If you're comfortable talking about it, I want to know how you got your manager and if you have an agent.
SHERIA: Yeah, I don't have an agent. I'm part of a management team at the center of La or Epicenter, and they're amazing. I guess that's a new development, recent development. So the way I had the Fibroid, a Love story script, idea. And I had, like, a little outline, and I took a class, and they helped me really shape it and really helped me bring out some things that I wasn't expecting to do with the script that I really enjoyed. Teacher Alison Flyer, she was so helpful. She was so amazing through the entire process. And I left her, and I went to a writer's group, and I went to a different class, and I worked on it even more, and then I finalized it again with a writers group. And then she reached out to me, and she was like, hey, I can't stop thinking about Fibroids. I want to know how it's going. I want to see it where it is and to spit shine it. And I sent it to her, and she read it, and it took many months. She read it, and then she sent it over to Epicenter. And I don't know if she just sent it to them. I think she sent it to a few people. And after a few, many more months at the center, contacted me. And we had a general, and we talked, and I shared a bunch of different scripts and sketches and stand up stuff. And they were so open and interested, and they were like I honestly didn't think Fibroids was ready to send out to studios and stuff, because it's such a weird. My vision of it was for, like, a web series that I would try to produce by myself, and I still think that's where it will live. But I didn't think it was appropriate to send to studios, and a lot of them loved it. So far. I've gotten a few generals. I know that's, like, nothing. That's, like, a very nebulous space to be in as far as that. But having people at studios know my name and read my work and talk to me and say that they liked it and they liked my voice, that is a huge, massive step that I didn't think I would get to at this point. And who knows what will come of it, if anything? But, like, just that I'm so grateful and blessed for the people who could see what I have to say and see that it has value. I'm genuinely surprised. Genuinely surprised. Not because I don't think, like, I'm brilliant. I just thought I was the only one. I have been the only one for so long.
JAZ: Congratulations on that. I mean, it's really interesting since you're funny and you know how to talk about it in a funny way, it's interesting. And a lot of people don't even know to think about it, so they're probably like, wow. People need to know about this or even know because they probably deal with it themselves. That's great.
SHERIA: And it's interesting from my perspective, because I don't know a lot of the terms. They are so lovely to me because I kind of like, they would say words like industry words, and I'm like, 1s I don't know what that means. And then instead of being like, oh, this dumb bitch, they really explain things to me. They understand they understand that I don't know this industry like that, and I'm learning, and they're giving me resources to learn more. I can give you several generals because I didn't know what that meant. A lot of the people who get seen and get in these rooms, they have connections. They have an understanding of the industry. And I think, from my perspective, kind of like going into it, it's kind of interesting, and they kind of bucked me. It hasn't been what I thought it would be.
JAZ: So far. So far, it sounds like you're having a good experience with it. So far. So far. That's good.
SHERIA: Knock on goddamn wood. It's the first time you're like, I think things are going well. That's what happens. I hope that it continues to go well or even better. Thank you.
JAZ: Do you feel like comedy writers specifically need managers or agents?
SHERIA: I go back and forth on that. It depends on what kind of writer you are, right? So, like, my managers so far, they've been, like I said, I am unwell in many ways. I'm just depressed. It's hard to do things. It's hard to send things out that is so uncomfortable, and I don't know who to send it. And then when you do know who to send, you know what I mean? It's all about connections. I feel like if you are a writer who is well connected, who is very disciplined, who is able to revise and be proactive about your work, and you don't need somebody to email and be like, I need those pages. That helps me. It really helps me. In fact, it's like sometimes the only way I could do it is if someone is like, we need those pages by this time, and then I have to do it. You know what I mean? Like, or we need this, we need that. You need to do this, I need that. I just thought that the nature of my mental illnesses makes that so. But if you are the kind of person that doesn't need that, you can do it. You can do it without them. Honestly, you can do it without it. As long as you stay disciplined, as long as you keep going, you can handle rejection. As long as you send your stuff out, you do your research, you can do your research. You can find people, you can set meetings with people and companies. You can do all that without a manager. You're. Good for y'all. But I can't. I need someone. I just do. Hopefully that will change and I'll be more motivated and discipline. Self motivated, self discount.
SHERIA: Yeah, I feel so many about that. So what does success look like to you?
JAZ: Specifically? Yes. I mean, my vision of success is changing as the world gets more horrible and scary. I'm like looking at everything, and I'm like, I want a house high up enough that the sea levels rise and they don't get hurt. That's sort of where I am. But I want to write my own TV show. I want to run my own room. I want to be a headwriter. My own show, my own queer, black, working class, focused, funny, funny show that resonates with people. That's what I want. That's what I want at the end. That's what I want. I think that's, like, that's so hard to achieve, but it's like, that's the pig and Squigg game for me. And also, I would like to do stand up. But my vision of it because stand up takes so much out of me. My vision of it is like, I would live somewhere nice and not in New York. Trees and space and all that. 3s At nature, like, growing my own food, which I've never, ever done, but I'm going to do it. I want to be there for, like, a week and then come into New York for the weekend and do shows and do gigs and enjoy my time and then take my happy has back to my nice little home where I'll write and review pages and either be in a writer's room or run my own 1s room or be headwater, whatever that looks like. Ultimately, I want a balance of creating. I want my name on the little scroll of something great, and I want to be able to go out and do comedy, but also I want to maybe do some voice acting and little bit parts or whatever. But I don't want to be, like, famous. I want to be that girl where they're like, who's that old lady in her pajamas smoking blunt? Brianna on the yacht? Like, who? She's like, oh, nobody knows. Right? Leave her the fuck alone. Don't look don't fight her. Kpop Fanfic 8s yes. Look at her. She's happy. She adores PJ. She and her bonnet. 3s She looks peaceful. That's what I want to be. That sounds lovely. Sounds great. Thank you. Comics and comedy writers are like, I want to do that. I want to write to Dust and buy that guy. I want everybody to know my name. None of you niggas. Nobody. Leave me alone. I want you to enjoy my shit. Leave me alone!
JAZ: If you could change anything about the industry, what would that be?
SHERIA: I know it's probably maybe just one. There's so many things I need. Let me get heavy and real with it. I would change the culture of I'm just going to put it all together and say, I'm going to get in trouble for this. The culture of extremely toxic masculinity that leads to all the bad things. There's some places you go and you're like, I'm definitely about to get assaulted. I don't want that. I want to get rid of that. And I think the top would it be, I think the ego, the hustle culture in standup comedy needs to go. I don't think it lends itself to great comedy a lot of the time. I think it just fires people out or makes them do coke. I think the culture of toxic masculinity that feels so much of these bad things that are also a part of, like, how comedy became came to be. I think it's time to let that shit go. I think it's like the hamhawks of comedy. It's part of our culture. But does it need to be no shade to the hamhawks. That needs to go, I would like to get rid of that. I don't think it will. Yeah, I don't think it needs it. I think people really do think that it requires it. I know people really do think that it requires it. That's just a game. It doesn't have to be. Can't you imagine something better? Isn't that what we do with creatives? Can't we imagine something better and make that happen? We totally could.
JAZ: We could absolutely. Just because it's always been like that.
SHERIA: Yeah, but that sucked. It sucked then and it sucked now. Like the Louie C. K thing. Everybody's all like, oh, poor Louis. Poor Louie. They took his career. How many careers did he destroy? How many great jokes did we not get from the women who left it? Industry because of that. Because of that. Because they were forced out or because they were scared out. You know, what have we lost? There were probably some great special, some great jokes and great TV shows that we'll never, ever see and never, ever get to see because of that. That is not necessary. It's just there. Yeah. Yeah. I don't really think about that a lot.
JAZ: That's true. Yeah. I have nothing to add. So what's your favorite thing about writing comedy?
SHERIA: My favorite I always think of my least favorite things, but my favorite thing about writing, about the process of writing. It the process of writing. Yeah. When even if it's not when you feel in your heart and your gut and your heart like, that little I think this might work. I think that might work. You know, even when it's not, even when it's and you're like, depression was brilliant. Even that feeling is so good. It's so good. I'm on antidepressants, and I have menopause symptoms, so I don't get a lot of orgasms. That's the closest thing to our regular orgasms that I get. That it's. Writing a new bit or writing a new punchline or something. That is the best part. That's my favorite part.
JAZ: Yes. Oh, I'm getting to the second to last questions. Okay. You can answer this however you wanted, but what do you think comedy does for the world?
SHERIA: I know the world question listen not what could do what it does currently. What it does currently. I think comedy helps people, for better or for worse, get through the drudgery and the grief and the sadness of life. It distracts people a little bit. Maybe it teaches people like people like Hasan Minhaj, people even like Trevor Noah and The Daily Show and all of that. And John Oliver. They teach people things that they would not the information that they would not seek out because they are so beleaguered by the effects of obviously capitalism, racism and slavery and all that stuff. They are so damaged and tired and scared. And the only way a lot of people, myself included, can really take in some of this hard information is with comedy. And I think that's always been true of human nature. I think that taps into something stinky chill that taps into something essential to our human nature. So what it does now is it helps people get through it. Should we be helping people get through it? I don't know. Maybe people need to stop fucking laughing and get going. But yeah, that's what I think it does people a little bit, just a little bit. Not like actual solutions to the problem, but it makes you. It's a balm for the soul. When the soul needs, like, a whole restructuring. It's a soothing balm for a soul that is on fire and dying every day. A little bit more. We have three years before irreversible climate damage, but ain't nobody doing it. But we tell each other until the oceans bubble over.
JAZ: So this is the last question. Why are you funny? We know you’re that you are funny. Why are you funny?
SHERIA: I do think that the crossover of my identities and experiences there's no other outcome. The only other outcome is, like, death. But really, like, the times where I was not funny are the darkest, darkest days and days that I said, all right, even if you read my suicide notes. Bye. And I think there's like, an ancestral thing I think there's a DNA thing. I think I come from Jamaican slaves who worked on the sugarcane fields, from people who probably ran away and tried to escape and were brought back. I'm from people who had no way to escape the circumstances, their circumstances, but to tell fucking jokes. And I think that passes on. I think that's also a lot of funny. I think trauma intergenerational or just in your life, it either makes you funny or makes you super not funny. And I'm Both. I get to be both. That's why I hate that. I wish it were like that's. Also, it trauma and UPN, which is basically the same thing.
JAZ: I’m gonna make that the headline, honestly. this is so good. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
SHERIA: Oh, My God. Thank you! So you did your homework. You got my social security number. you said, I know everything abut you bitch. I have a very specific set of skills….
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