Jessica Williams: Better Than Your Favorite Male Comedian

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Williams

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Williams

By Grace Gay

Jessica Williams, former Daily Show correspondent, thoroughly entertained the crowd in Cahn Auditorium this past Sunday at A&O's fall speaker event, cosponsored by the College Feminists, Multicultural Filmmakers Collective and One Book One Northwestern.

I’d never seen any of her segments on The Daily Show before, or listened to her podcast Two Dope Queens, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. In an open and honest chat, Williams discussed her hair (which is absolutely gorgeous), her white bae, how much she plays The Sims, her friendship with JK Rowling, and her experience taking mushrooms. After cracking up the audience on all of these topics, she ended the show on a less comedic note, making a political shout out to the crowd.    

In 2017, every conversation, particularly one where a black female comedian addresses a liberal college audience, seems to come back to the political world we live in today. So I wasn’t expecting her to take such a serious tone as she ended her talk. While it didn’t add to the humor of the event or end it on a high note, it was a sweet and kind call for everyone in the audience to realize that their emotions and their identities were valid, no matter what the current political climate might suggest. This wasn’t my favorite part of the night, but it was touching.

The best part of her set, and the part that seemed to get the biggest laughs, was her description of her friendship with JK Rowling. At a school as academically inclined (read: nerdy) as Northwestern, it inevitably hit the sweet spot of the Harry Potter phenomenon. In hilarious tones with excellent timing and body language to match, she related how she casually (after months of planning) found out her Harry Potter house (Gryffindor) from JK Rowling herself.

I was blown away by her raw personality and talent, as well as the unique perspective she brought to every joke she told. What makes a great comedian isn't just a willingness to laugh at yourself, but also an underlying kindness for others. With the recent flood of sexual assault and harassment allegations levied against many popular and famous comedians, Jessica Williams' kindness becomes ever more prominent. Forget those subpar comedians that rely on a certain hatred of the world. Check out Jessica Williams's work. She brings not only more honest, diverse experiences to the world of comedy, but also jokes that are truly hilarious, which is more than can be said for quite a few ‘comedians.’


Steven Norwalk