Jessica Williams co-hosts the new podcast “2 Dope Queens.” But it’s in her role as senior correspondent for “The Daily Show” that she’s become America’s favorite fake-news reporter. Jessica aims her arsenal of quick wit and righteous indignation at everything from politics and race to Beyonce.
In the clip from 2013 below, she tells host John Oliver that she wants to see the NYPD’s “Stop and Frisk” profiling policy expanded… to include the stopping and frisking of Wall-Street types who might possibly be white-collar criminals.
She explained to Rico and Brendan why that bit was the start of her discovering her “Daily Show”Â schtick.
On how she found her comedic voice within “The Daily Show”
Jessica Williams: When I first got hired at the show, I was 22, and I didn’t really know, like, what my character’s shtick was. So, for a while, I would just go into Jon Stewart’s office every now and then, and just be like, “Hey, like, what’s my deal?”
And he’d be like, “What?” And I’d be like, “What’s, like, my thing?” And he was just like, “You’re 22. You’re going to figure it out. Just look for the things that make you feel emotions.” And I was like, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t know what all those Emmys were for!”
Brendan Francis Newnam: You’re like “CrossFit!”
Jessica Williams: Yeah, like, “Come on, dude! Come on, dad.” Yeah, but that was sort of the stop and frisk policy that was enacted at the time. It was very frustrating, and that was sort of the first bit where I felt like, “Oh, damn! This might be my thing.”
Rico Gagliano: Do you have, like, a lens where you’re just like, “I know that’s not a Jessica Williams story”?
Jessica Williams: Yeah, I do. Like, I can’t deal with… like, I’m 26, so I can’t deal with the economy or, like, money. I can’t…
Rico Gagliano: You just have never had any.
Jessica Williams: Like, I just figured out my taxes, barely, and by figured it out, like, I finally called my mom to thank her for helping me with my taxes.
Rico Gagliano: That’s off limits.
Jessica Williams: I’m just not ready for it.
On how political humor is different for liberals and conservatives
Brendan Francis Newnam: Do you have a theory about why fake news and satire, like, the Left really takes to that for their politics?
Jessica Williams: Well, I think, it’s always been that way. It’s not… you know, I think comedy has always been about those that feel a little bit more disenfranchised and slighted trying to find a way through pain. It’s why, like, sometimes I really like to dig into Fox News’s Facebook page, because it’s really lit with really angry people that don’t get it.
But the things that they have to post, comedy-wise, are, like, terrible. Like, there’s nothing…like, the memes are bad. You know, none of it is really coming from a frame of reference that actually seems like it’s struggling in any sort of way. It’s just like, “Hillary Clinton’s a goblin! Isn’t that funny?” And it’s like, well, no, it’s not There are funnier things.
On how she let the internet know she’s carving out her own career path… and her awkward run-in with her therapist
Rico Gagliano: On your Twitter account, you pinned a tweet that you wrote back in February 2015. It’s stuck to the very top of your Twitter profile page, is what that means, and you wrote it right around the time some people were suggesting you be the next “Daily Show” host. It says:
I am a black woman and I am a feminist and I am so many things. I am truly honored that people love my work. But I am not yours.
â Jessica R. Williams (@msjwilly) February 17, 2015
What did that message mean to you then and now?
Jessica Williams: I think, you know, when Jon announced that he was retiring, a lot of people were like, “Oh, you know, you kick ass at your job!” [Audience applauds] Thank you. “You’re black, and you’re a woman. You should want that job!”
And I felt like, you didn’t ask me! And I felt like if I said, “You didn’t ask me” then I felt people were condescending to me and telling me that I should want it. And at first, I was like, “Well, maybe I should want that. Maybe I should want that job. What’s wrong with me?”
Rico Gagliano: Because you’re in this rare position, in a way.
Jessica Williams: Yeah, totally. And I was like, “Well, no, I don’t have to.” I go to therapy, like, two times a week, and I love it. Highly recommend therapy. Hi, Heather!
Brendan Francis Newnam: She’s our next guest.
Jessica Williams: Oh, no! That’s so embarrassing. One time, I ran into my therapist in an olive oil shop in Park Slope, and it was the most…
Brendan Francis Newnam: Whoa, wait, stop!
Jessica Williams: …Devastating experience of my life.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Which part’s embarrassing?
Jessica Williams: All of it! All of it! It was, like, Sunday, like, we went to a butcher shop, my boyfriend and I.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, and you said the Right has nothing to make fun of.
Jessica Williams: Yeah.
Rico Gagliano: You just provided it.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Writes itself!
Jessica Williams: Hey, I just want to let you guys know, anybody on the Fox News page, if you guys post it, please don’t make fun of this. But it was embarrassing for multiple levels and…
Rico Gagliano: I can’t remember what the question was that we just asked you, but I do know that we can…
Jessica Williams: To sum it up, I basically just wanted people to feel like: I am a black woman, but there are so many black, female comedians. And I love that you love my work, but I don’t belong to you. And I hope that you trust that I’m able to make the best possible decisions for myself.
On her part in the forgotten Nickelodeon series “Just For Kicks”
Brendan Francis Newnam: You have an acting career outside of “The Daily Show.” And it started long before “The Daily Show,” even though you were the youngest correspondent.
Jessica Williams: Oh, my God.
Brendan Francis Newnam: And you were the star of a Nickelodeon comedy about a girls’ soccer team…
Rico Gagliano: Here comes the title.
Brendan Francis Newnam: “Just for Kicks.”
Rico Gagliano: Oh, yes.
Jessica Williams: Do you get it? It was, like, a play on words. Like, we play soccer.
Rico Gagliano: This is a public radio crowd.
Brendan Francis Newnam: And you really did, you scrubbed the internet and hid everything, but we dug deep, and we found a clipÂ to embarrass you with. [Ed note: click “English” under the “View Trailer” section to the left-hand side to view the clip in question.]
Jessica Williams: Get out of here!
Brendan Francis Newnam: And in this clip, one of your teammates has just made a bad play, and your coach is not pleased with you.
Jessica Williams: How did you get this?
Brendan Francis Newnam: Sorry!
Jessica Williams: Oh, no. I hate you guys.
Rico Gagliano: “One more loss and he’ll be naked.”
Jessica Williams: I sounded like the lady from the Popeye’s Chicken commercial.
Brendan Francis Newnam: I think the writing’s a little better on “The Daily Show.”
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