A lot can happen in a year. In early 2017, most of the world didn’t know Tiffany Haddish. Then came her breakout turn as the hilarious Dina in the movie comedy smash Girls Trip. That fall, she became the first black female stand-up comedian to host Saturday Night Live. Next was the 38-year-old’s New York Times best-selling memoir, The Last Black Unicorn, in which she discussed growing up in foster care and how she used her gift for comedy to earn cash. On September 28, she’ll stir up some more laughs, starring alongside Kevin Hart, in Night School. Her slogan: “She ready.” And she is.
When did you first realize you were funny?
Kids would make fun of me and I wanted them to stop. I figured if I make fun of myself, if I take what they say and twist it, it would be less likely for me to have to fight.
Who were the comedians who inspired you?
Richard Pryor, Lucille Ball, Moms Mabley, Carol Burnett, Bill Cosby, Lenny Bruce. Tom Hanks on Bosom Buddies.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
Girl, I’m a “What time are they paying me to get up?” type of person. Tomorrow I’ve got to get up at 5:30, right? I’ll get in the car, go to the airport, get to New York. And then I’ll probably head over to the farmers market just down the way from my hotel. I love to go to a farmers market. That’s one of my favorite things to do.
Do people recognize you at the market?
As long as I keep my mouth shut, nobody bothers me. They recognize my voice before they recognize my face.
You’re also a gardener?
When I’m home [in Los Angeles], I tend to the garden every day. I pull the weeds. I actually talk to my plants. I try to tell them jokes. They don’t laugh.
What do you like about gardening?
I always wanted a garden. Even when I had an apartment, I always was growing something. I guess I get it from my mom. And my grandma. There’s nothing like eating off your own land, you know? And it’s relaxing.
You talk about “Tiffany Tips” in your stand-up. Do you have a tip about gardening?
Having a garden is [a reminder that] however much attention you give it, what you put into it is what you get back. It’s very much like life.
You’ve said that stand-up is healing. What do you mean?
I love hearing people laugh. I think it’s the most beautiful sound in the world. And when you can get 5,000 people to laugh all at once in unison, that sound is beautiful. I think it’s absolutely healing. They don’t know you. Maybe they’ve seen you on TV, or seen you in a movie. But they don’t really know you. And you get them all to go on a journey with you and laugh. That’s magic, girl.
Working with Kevin was like running into someone you knew in elementary school. He’s someone I’ve known since about 2003. We just enjoy each other.
What was it like to play a teacher in the movie?
If you ask my friends they would tell you I’m a teacher naturally, because I know a lot of random stuff that you wouldn’t think I would know. They’d tell you that whenever they see me, they learn something new. So I like to think of myself as a teacher. But there was a few teachers in my life that definitely were, like, down-to-earth, and you could tell they really cared—like my drama teacher, who taught me how to read, who I talk about in my book.
What was the last book that you really loved?
I’m laughing because this might be boring: The last book that I really loved was Accent Your Character. It’s [an audiobook] on dialects.
Can you do accents?
No, no, I can’t! That’s why I was so into this book.
What’s your favorite Sunday meal?
Girl, I cook so much. Just last Sunday, I made steaks, wild rice, I fried up some fish—red snapper—and I made a kale salad. Then a bunch of people came over and we played cards. I love to cook. It feels good. If I can have my friends over and we eat and we laugh and enjoy each other. When you’re at home and you cook, you can be as loud as you want, you get to stay as late as you want. At a restaurant, they kick you out if you’re too loud.
Do you get dressed up when your friends come over?
I’m so casual, so laid-back—I’m wearing jeans and a T-shirt, unless it’s like some kind of a theme or whatever. Like when I did my tea party.
Was your tea party a special occasion?
I had just come back from China and I bought all these tea sets and I thought, I want to have a tea party. Everybody had to wear big hats. I wanted big hats and flowy dresses. I hired a harp player too. I had him play Beyoncé songs, only.
What else happened at the Tiffany Haddish tea party?
I hired one of my comedy buddies to pretend to be a butler. He wore a top hat and answered the door and escorted everyone to the backyard. Then he would announce them. He’d say, “May I present Ms. Dominique of the hills of Hawthorne.” It was so much fun.
Last thing that made you laugh? Dave Chappelle made me laugh really hard yesterday.
Cure for the Sunday blues? Figure out what you love about your job and think more about that than, “Dang, I got to get up tomorrow.” Everybody’s not lucky enough to have a job.
A song you can’t get out of your head? Right now, “Level Up” by Ciara.
Most unusual possession? My microscope. I look at germs and stuff. Check out the pH balance of soil and snot. If I wouldn’t have been a comedian, I would’ve been in science. Maybe a botanist.