Tiffany Haddish’s rise to stardom has been a wild ride — for her, and for the rest of us too. The comedian is a gift: to talk shows, late night shows, regular shows, award shows, and now to the pages of The Hollywood Reporter as well. Their cover story on Haddish is a perfect encapsulation of the woman, swerving between hilarity and heartbreak while always being 100% honest. Of course, it may help that the entire thing was seemingly conducted during a 5-hour cross-country flight, over vodka.
And if you’re looking for more of her trademark celebrity encounters, well — you won’t be disappointed. Here’s Haddish talking about hitting on Leonardo DiCaprio:
“Yeah, I met him at a party two, three months ago, and I asked him if he’d let me hit that,” she begins. “He’s like, ‘Tiffany, you’re so funny.’ I’m like, ‘I’m serious.’ And then he goes, ‘I mean, I’d do it, but …’ I was like, ‘Come on, wasn’t you in a squad? The coochie squad or something?’ [Editor’s note: DiCaprio was famously a member of the “pussy posse” with pals Tobey Maguire and Kevin Connolly.] I told him, ‘My only stipulation: I wanna do it with you as your character in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.’ He starts bustin’ up laughin’. ‘Why?’ he asks, and I say, ‘Cause I feel like that performance deserves a real reward and that reward is this (gestures at her own body).’ He starts goin’ into how he got into the role, how he worked with these kids and all this stuff, and I’m just listenin’ and listenin’, like, ‘Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm.’ I finally go, ‘All that’s good, I just need to know, When’s this gonna happen?’”
OK, normally I’m not super invested in celeb gossip but… DID THEY DO IT?!
She also knew Roseanne Barr was racist before the rest of us, apparently:
Haddish speaks directly into my tape recorder. “I don’t know if you know El Segundo [a coastal California town near LAX], but if you’re black and you’re driving through El Segundo, you’re going to get pulled over. I used to visit my friend Anna there, and it got to a point where I was calling the police officers by name. One day, we were walking around the neighborhood, and Anna says, ‘Oh, Roseanne lives there.’ Now, I loved Roseanne, and the next day we walked by, and she was in her yard. I say, ‘Hiiii, Roseanne.’ She looks at me (makes a disgusted face), and ran in the house. I thought, ‘Maybe she don’t want to be bothered today.’ A week later, we walk by again, and I told Anna — she’s Hispanic, but she looks white — she should say hi this time. So she says, ‘Hi, Roseanne,’ and Roseanne goes, ‘Hey!’ I thought, ‘Maybe she got to know us.’ Then I go back, like, a week later, I wave again and say, ‘Hi, Roseanne! I love your comedy,’ and she (makes the same disgusted face) and turns her head. I think, ‘Fuck that bitch.’ That was 2000, maybe 2001, so it’s not new. She been racist, why’d you all give her a TV show?”
But the article doesn’t just cover her funny anecdotes. Haddish’s honesty extends to her own past as well, and she doesn’t avoid tougher topics like her abusive childhood and past relationships, her unbelievable odd-jobs, and the times she lived out of her car. Comedy seems to be the thing that kept her going through it all, though, and so much of her current approach to life seems to tie back to advice she received from Richard Pryor when she was just discovering the craft:
At 15, a social worker enrolled Haddish, still barely able to read and a frequent guest in the principal’s office, in a comedy camp at the Laugh Factory. It was that or psychiatric therapy, she says, and praises the program for teaching her as much about stand-up as it did about self-confidence. It was there that she met one of her heroes, Richard Pryor, who gave her a piece of advice that’s stuck with her. “People don’t come to comedy shows because they want to hear about your problems,” she remembers him saying. “They come to comedy shows to have fun, so when you’re onstage, have fun.”
Part of what is so fascinating about Haddish is that she’s created this approachable, “have fun” persona that is both totally genuine and also a shrewd tactic. She treats her whole life as a performance on stage, it seems, and she wants everyone watching to have a good time. But she also seems to recognize that she may be on the cusp of overexposure — even in the minds of her colleagues. And she doesn’t hold it against them.
The situation on The Last O.G. was more complicated. Haddish says the network tried a few times to go back in and make her character — conceived as a kind of serious, straight-woman — more like Girls Trip’s Dina, and each time she resisted. She suggests her relationship with Morgan changed, too: “When the Jimmy Kimmel thing came out, he’s like (in Morgan’s voice), ‘I saw you on Jimmy Kimmel, you was nervous as fuck, huh?’ I’m like, ‘No …’ ‘Haddish, come on, I could see it in your eyes, you were scared.’ … But you don’t argue with Tracy, you just say, ‘OK, yeah, you’re right.’”
A few days before we meet, Haddish’s former Carmichael co-star Lil Rel Howery tweeted a link to an interview Morgan had just given, in which he shut down a question about Haddish. Rel included a message to Morgan: “Don’t bite the hand that keeps you relevant!” Haddish says she tried to get her friend to take down the post, but he flat-out refused. “That motherfucker’s a hater,” Rel told her. Other comics reached out, too, and she says she told them all the same thing: “You guys, chill. He’s probably just tired of hearing my name. It’s exhausting. I’m tired of hearing my name. I could see how that could be irritating, like, ‘Hello, I died, people. I’m back from the dead. Tiffany’s cool, but it’s me sitting here now.’ So, I get it, I’m not mad about it, I love me some Tracy.”
Personally, I’m not worried about getting tired of Tiffany Haddish. The woman has so many layers, so many stories, and so much drive for success (50 movies by the time she’s 50! Charity work! “I want to make a cookbook. I wanna make a gardening book. I want a clothing line. I want a jewelry line. I want a perfume.”) that watching her star continue to rise will be anything but boring. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s going to continue to be a goddamn delight.