Thursday, October 28, 2010
Interview with a Comic Diva Part Deux: Yamaneika Saunders
A little over a year ago, I met a a beautiful and hilarious woman by the name of Yamaneika Saunders. A year ago August, I published my first interview with this sexy, sassy, no holds bar maven of the microphone. Over the last year, though I have not gotten to see her as much as I would like, I have gotten to know her better, and I love everything about this human being. From her art to her heart, I am a true blue fan of this gem of a stand up comedienne. Yama is an inspiration to me, and I am very happy to present this new interview with her.
Thank you to Yama for providing this very real, very straight up (no pun intended) conversation.
1. You have a keen and vivid sense of the political, talk about how your art as a comedian and your incisive political wit cross? How does your politics as a back woman inform how you choose your topics for your comedy?
Whether I like it or not, I am grouped into this "angry black woman" category, for the sheer fact that I'm loud, black, big and female - so right off the bat there are going to be generalizations. I take it in stride. I am definitely trying to carve out my own unique voice, in hopes that the world will see I'm not defined by my sub-culture.
It's important for me to take on certain topics, as well as, trying to veer from being marginalized and characterized by my physical identity.
2. A few months ago, you thought about giving up on comedy. Let me first say that I am damn glad that you didn't, but can you talk a little bit about what brought you to the point of making that decision? You decided to continue gifting us with laughter, can you talk about why you choose to keep doing stand up?
Well, its still part of the plan for me to take a break. The reason is not that I don't love comedy, I just don't love the business of comedy. I'm always going to be a performer, its in my blood, but if I can't use my gift to save a life or change one then I'm failing. So, its quite possible you might see me make a switch into the ministry very soon. I can tell jokes from the pulpit.
3. We are in a recession, duh, how has that impacted your work as a comedian? And, in this climate, who, if anyone, of your peers is "making it?"
The recession affects the city, a lot, because people want to keep tight with the purse and the clubs want to make money so there are requirements when you come to shows. I try to make it worth everyone's wild when they come and see me, trust me no one is going to say "I wasted money on that show" even if I'm the only person who does well that night, I give 100% and its often times is enough to overshadow a bad night overall (that sounds cocky, but I'm keeping it real) that's not to say I don't have my moments but after being the game so long they are few and far between.
I'm not sure who is making it, we all get opportunities and they seem like they are gong to pan into something, but you just never know. Most of my peers in this game have set such a high standard for "making it" that I think when everyone knows our name we feel like we are "making it". I sometimes get a little ahead of myself because I'll go out to a club and I'll be surprised when someone says "Oh, I saw you at this place or that place" and I'm like "Really? You remember me?"
4. You have an amazing spirit and an obvious strength. Where does that come from? How do you re-energize yourself and keep yourself moving forward?
Thank you, for saying that! It's tough because I as an individual am very weak, in my opinion; the fortitude that I have is from God, without Him I wouldn't even wake up out of the bed. He keeps telling me He has me in His arms, so I step out on faith. My mother also keeps me grounded. She is always reminding me to be strong and stay positive. I have a good friend system too, even though I fight with all my friends and alienate them, the ones who stick around keep me tough, they don't take the shit from me so I can't take it from myself. So, by the time people see me on stage I've been picked up by all the above.
The audience also keeps my strong. I am super sensitive and I have so much I want to say to people, jolt them into reality that life is hard but so the fuck what?! Don't let a person treat you like shit. Don't accept shit! Those are my messages, so when I get on stage I just want to shout and yell and tell everyone FUCK IT ALL LETS LAUGH!
5. You have a show coming up on tonight at Comix in NYC...how can folks get tickets? Where else can they see you? What else do you have coming up?
Yes, the show at Comix is a hot one! Its been a minute since I've been back in the city, and since I go on the road often I sometimes don't get the chance to really get on at some of the clubs like I could, so its great when I'm able to do such a prestigious club like Comix.
The show starts at 9 PM Oct 28th, which is tonight. Tickets are $20, but anyone who mentions my name at the door gets a $5 discount. So, come out!