Erica Watson talks comedy and dating

Erica Watson – Photo credit: Anre’ Photography

Erica Watson is an actress, stand-up comedian and film and television director. Her comedy is in your face and fearless. She has toured the country with her one-woman show Fat B—- where she addresses being a woman, struggles with weight and relationships. She has been on the Oxygen Network, BET. Recently she starred in Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq. We spoke to Watson about her career, BBW’s (big, beautiful women) and the lack of Black woman writers in the industry.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Erica and I am here to make all of your comedic fantasies come true. I prostitute laughter! I create cheerful orgasms! OK, I tried to make it sound sexy dammit … basically, I’m a comic. I mean, Janitors call themselves “custodial engineers,” so I figured I should try to say something to make it sound more interesting. But it is what it is. I tell jokes baby!

Talk about how it has been navigating throughout the industry.

I find that it’s easier to navigate a path when you know where you are going and chose your own mode of transportation. There are good days. There are bad days. But for the most part, I love what I do and wouldn’t change a thing. Writing and performing makes me so happy! It’s worth all of the bull crap and politics that you have to deal with behind the scenes. I’m still a “new jack” in many ways. I’ve only been doing comedy 10 years. I try my best to make the right connections and jump on the right opportunities when they come my way. But comedy is not a business you should get into if you do not have a true sense of who you are or are easily discouraged. You need tough skin, a strong heart, and a clear mind to really make this thing work. You spend the first few years trying to find your voice. After that you have to decide if you want to conform and “fit in” or do you want to stay in your lane and craft your own path.

You do not shy away when it comes to your weight, why is it important for you to attack it head-on?

How could I even try to shy away from my size?  I mean, I know there are people who try to hide who they are, no matter what size they are. They make themselves “small” and dim their own light. But I know that my weight is the first thing you see. I am a woman. I am a black woman. I am a plus size Black woman. The size of me is there for everyone to see, so I just stand confident and know that my size, however, large is only a small part of who I am. It is a descriptor but not the entire definition.

Who would you say you have modeled your style after?

Because of my one-woman show Fat B—-! I get compared to Whoopi Goldberg, Sandra Bernhard and Margaret Cho a lot. I also get a lot of comparisons to John Leguizamo and even Sarah Jones and Anna Deveare Smith. But I honestly haven’t tried to model my comedic style after anyone. But, I am totally influenced by entertainment entrepreneurs like Tyra Banks, Queen LatifDeveareah, Oprah, Tina Fey and Shonda Rhimes. I am also totally inspired by the new school of media mavens like Luvvie, Ava DuVernay and Issa Rae. I want to be more than just a comic. I want to be a brand.

When we talk about the world of comedy and comedic writers there is a noticeable absence of Black women. Why do you think this is the case?

There is this dumb little misconception that women are not funny. And I think that narrow-minded type of thinking creates a bias against women being hired for the writer’s room. The comedy industry is very much a male-dominated industry. But now, many women are taking their careers into their own hands and creating projects that are making the world take notice.

Talk about your one-woman show, Fat B—-! What was the motivation for it?

Fat B—-!  is an open letter to America about me finally learning to love myself and accept my body on my terms. It’s a funny yet thought-provoking look at America’s obsession with size, and how the world puts us all in a box no matter who we are. It’s filled with lots of stories that explore the way in which my body has affected my life from the bedroom to the boardroom. The “Fat & Sassy” mammy stereotype that has been forced upon many of us but no one has ever heard mammy’s side of the story.

I will be performing Fat B—-! at The Laurie Beechman Theater in NYC on March 25, 2017.

You have an event coming up called Locked and Loaded a size sexy dating experience. What is this exactly?

A lot of men like “big girls.” No matter if you call them curvy, super thick or BBW’s, the “Locked and Loaded” singles party is for men that want something to grab on to!! I was living in NYC for 10 years and I had a very active dating life there. Once I came back home to Chicago I had a hard time navigating the dating scene here. Most of my friends are already married and I did not know where to meet single professional men who are actually ready to be committed. I found that many women here were dealing with the same issues. So when Qiana, the owner of Curve Culture Boutique suggested that we throw a single’s mixer for plus size women I said absolutely!! Something sexy, fun and upscale!! Every woman gets a key and every man gets a lock. The fun part is seeing who will find a match that night, and possibly for a lifetime!

Our “Locked and Loaded” event will be at The Godfrey Hotel on 11/20 5-8 p.m. and features SWAG BAGS with goodies from Nena Cosmetics, Jim Bean, Habano Cigars, TGIN and Patrick’s Cookie Company.

What words do you have for the person who is pursuing comedy because it is their dream?

Life is way too short! So you might as well go for it! The time is here and now. If not now, when? If not you, who? You must go for it. Go to an open mic and just get on and start talking about your life. If it’s meant to be, it will all fall into place.

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