TaTa Sherise doesn’t mind Lizzo, but the West Philadelphia-based comedian is quick to say that she was a big girl energy singer long before she was a singer.
“Glad to see another big girl out here doing her thing,” Sherise said, as if orchestrating a joke. “I mean, I say, ‘Go head girl,’ but I been make that. They keep saying, ‘I’m like Lizzo.’ Uh, no, I’m like Tata. I was fabulous.”
The fabulousness is real. In the five years since Sherise – whose real name is Na’Tosha Wyles – burst onto the comedy scene, she’s snagged roles in indie films, and last year she did her bit to keep her alive The Drew Barrymore Show.
She has performed stand-up gigs at major comedy clubs such as the Laugh Factory in Las Vegas, Carolines on Broadway in New York and the Hollywood Improv in Los Angeles. In August, she opened for comedian Affion Crockett, who recently hosted Martin: The reunion on BET, at Punch Line Philly.
“She’s energetic, exciting and there’s no audience she can’t make love her,” said Rachel Shertz, talent coordinator at Punch Line Philly. “The fact that other comedians love her speaks volumes. Watching her perform makes me feel like in a few years I can brag about knowing her.”
Sherise’s style is raw: a mix of Wanda Sykes’ quick wit, Sommore’s X-rated sensibility and Mo’Nique’s confidence. The result: a hot show full of sexual innuendos and racist taboos that doesn’t offend. It won’t be long before this 31-year-old will be dancing in the limelight like so many of the great Philadelphia comics — Bill Cosby, Kevin Hart and Tina Fey — have come before her.
Well, to tell you the truth, I’ve always wanted to be in art. But comedy as a genre didn’t make it until five years ago. I lost my father and had a really bad breakup. I was a bit depressed about that. One day I was sitting in it [my] Living room, eating ice cream and talking to myself because the woman he left me for was a virgin. And when I said it out loud, it made me laugh. A few weeks later a friend asked me to come to an open mic. I left after I went to the gym so I shared this story and the story about how hard my trainer was on me and people loved it. Three months later I booked my first show.
I don’t like it when people insult others. Having fun is one thing. Being mean is another. You can make fun of anyone, but it never has to be mean.
I don’t think Chris’ joke was worth a slap, but I’m not mad at Will Smith.
Make a compliment? I do the critique sandwich with my comedy. I say something nice. I give a little rawness in the middle. And then I top it off with something beautiful.
When my mother became addicted to crack, I moved in with my aunt in Pennsauken. My mother went through a lot as a child: she was abused and raped. But she took care of us. Then one summer she had free time. My sister and I went to Florida to visit my stepdad’s family; I came back she was on crack She went from a PTA mom to a crackhead in one summer. My father and my cousin were functional addicts. She couldn’t. It overwhelmed her body.
Tell me about it. My father’s sister came to pick up my sister and I and she already had four children of her own. Nevertheless, she accepted us. We put our clothes in a garbage bag and never saw our rooms again. We were with her for 10 years. I learned to fit in very quickly – that’s what I talk about in my comedy – I got a taste of three different lifestyles: My father was a big drug dealer, so we had the hooded lifestyle with baby mink coats and the latest Jordans. Then we did the single mom check-to-check lifestyle. (My mom was a certified nursing assistant before she became addicted.) Then we moved in with my aunt and her gang of kids. Now we shopped at Forman Mills, Payless and Goodwill. I got a job when I was 14 so I could buy my own stuff.
MC Donalds. I worked at McDonald’s. I may have only worked a few hours a week, but this job was everything. However, I ate too many fries so eventually had to skip the fries.
I work at Technically Philly three days a week. I’m the Media Operations Manager. It’s perfect. When I started comedy, I decided I never wanted to work full-time again. I put the job I have now into the universe and I got it.
Def Comedy Jam and BET’s Comic View still make me laugh. I used to sneak and watch it as a kid. I never thought about being a comedian back then, I just enjoyed it.
wow Some of my favorites are: Lamar Todd and Shanell Renee – she does clean comedy. I admire how she is extremely funny with no profanity or vulgarity. There’s Drizz, she’s my business partner. She’s strong in the world of sketch comedy. We travel together like Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan. I also love Mel Harris, John Phillips and Tommy Too Smoov.
Yes: don’t turn down any show. That was a rule I set for myself when I started. If I could afford to go there I would go. You have to show people what you’re made of. The goal is to get them to invite you back.
Make-up by Patrice Wise-Brown, love2kolor, Instagram, @patrice_twolibras.
Lashes: Boujae Beauty Bar, @boujaebeauty