Tiffany Haddish stand-up urges students to push boundaries

Tiffany Haddish kicks off 'Cuse Can event

The comedian brought her comedic honesty to Goldstein Auditorium Saturday.
Published: April 7, 2019
Comedian Tiffany Haddish brought her comedic honesty to Syracuse University's Goldstein Auditorium on Saturday.
Comedian Tiffany Haddish, the first black female stand-up comedian to host "Saturday Night Live," performed Saturday afternoon in Goldstein Auditorium.

Emmy Award-winning actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish kicked off University Union’s day-long ‘Cuse Can! It Starts With Us celebration with a stand-up performance in the Goldstein Auditorium in front of hundreds of Syracuse University students and community members.

Before Haddish took the stage, the audience enjoyed a short set from actor and comedian Chris Spencer, who has done performances on The Chris Rock Show, HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Spencer warmed up the crowd with lighthearted, albeit, politically incorrect jokes that earned a few audible responses.

“If you’re ooo’ing me, just wait until Tiffany gets out here … loosen your little virgin booties up,” he sneered jokingly.

Then, it was time for Haddish’s set. The comedian graced the stage dancing with hip hop music in the background and a huge, infectious smile on her face. Coming off the success of her movie with Kevin Hart, Night School, and her stand-up tour #SheReady, Haddish was ready to share her stories with the cheering Syracuse crowd.

Comedian Tiffany Haddish brought her comedic honesty to Syracuse University's Goldstein Auditorium on Saturday.
Tiffany Haddish described getting over a hiccup in her career during a performance in Miami last year.

Right off the bat, she let the audience know what kind of show this was going to be. “I might say some things that are not proper, but that’s comedy,” she said. “What other people think doesn’t work in my brain.”

One of the different things about this comedy shows was that there were no phones allowed. Before entering audience members were given a pouch in which to place their phones that were magnetically locked — only to be opened once leaving the show. However, she didn’t leave her audience wondering why phones had to be put away.

“Have y’all ever had a bad day at work?” she began her story. Haddish went on to describe how a wild night in Miami the day before New Year’s Eve turned into her having a rough stand up show the next day. “I don’t know if you’ve been to Miami before, but that’s where the devil lives,” she said.

She then explained how she saw the audience members hold up their phone lights and cameras, and remarked, “My soul left me. It said see you tomorrow when your kidney returns.” Haddish dealt with the publicity aftermath of having a flop show and decided that from that day forward, her comedy sets would free from the watchful eyes of a phone camera. She summed up it all up with, “cell phones are snitches,” and then she continued on with her technology-less set.

The themes of University Union’s ‘Cuse Can events are community, diversity, and activism, but the theme of Haddish’s show was unfiltered and boundary-pushing life lessons. In front of her college-aged audience, Haddish didn’t bother keeping things PG. She spoke about everything from stories from her high school years to the one time Beyoncé let her borrow a suit. “She didn’t even wash it so it was a little musty, so I was like ‘Oh I got Beyoncé juice on me.’ ”

Haddish captured the audience with her admirable candor, and once her set was winding down, she even allowed for a few questions to be called out to her. She was asked, “Can you beat up Kevin Hart?,” and without skipping a beat she replied, “Of course.” “I am from south central Los Angeles, I’ve beat up bigger.”

Haddish closed out her set on a more encouraging note, as she reflected on today’s current social and political climate, as well as our lives as human beings as a whole.

“I want to curse every single person in this room with success and happiness,” she said. “I hope you share joy and s—t success. Everyone one of you deserves to be happy … spread and change the world with your happiness.”

For those who missed the performance, look out for Haddish’s Netflix stand-up special slated for later this year.

Avatar for Madison Breaux

is a staff producer for The NewsHouse, studying magazine journalism.