Comedy is an escape from reality, and with the state of the world these days, laughter is needed now more than ever. Just Nesh is exactly the person to deliver those laughs. This Chicago comic has already worked with comedy legends Dick Gregory and Kevin Hart. Her wit and take on everyday issues is impeccable and hilarious. We spoke with Just Nesh recently about her inspirations and what moved her to do comedy.
Talk about the moment you knew you wanted to do comedy.
I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment I knew I wanted to be a comedian. Growing up I liked watching comedians on TV but I never really thought about it seriously as a career. I guess you can say I knew I wanted to do comedy seriously about my third or fourth time on stage. I was on stage [and] I got a feeling, it was something about making a room full of strangers laugh. Feeling that rush while on stage, I knew stand up was something I wanted to pursue.
What do you think the comic’s responsibility is to the public?
The comic’s responsibility to the public is to normalize and make light of situations everyday people go through. We have to bring a bit of humor to the public on things you get angry about or subjects you are scared to talk about. I can laugh at the fact that I may not be the best mom to some people or what it was like when I was unemployed. Sometimes it helps to know you are not the only person who has experience with being broke. You are not by yourself, you’re not alone. Not too many jokes are really off limits in my book, if you can find the humor in things it can help make the things you’re going through easier. The laughter makes you forget your problems for the moment. You can always cry in your car on your way home after you laughed during the show.
Who are some of the comics that inspire you and why?
The list of comedians that inspire me is endless. But to name a few, I’d say Sinbad and Ellen. They are both naturally hilarious and their personalities overpower their audiences. It’s not that easy to narrow down. It’s common for people to ask comedians this question. When people ask me I usually say, nobody because I never planned on being in comedy. I enjoyed watching comedy; I found out it was my calling when I became an adult.
Sinbad and Ellen, both I could just listen to them sit and talk for hours. D. L. Hughley hands down is one of the funniest comedians. I watched how he built his career, he created long-term staying power staying true to who he is as an individual. My city, Chicago has a large population of talented and successful comedians. Damon Williams, DeeRay Davis and Shawn Morgan, he’s one talented comedic writer, his jokes are so funny, genius level funny. B. Cole has been a big influence [on] me.
You were just on tour with the late, great Dick Gregory, what did lessons did you take from him?
The lessons I learned were invaluable. Mr. Gregory always told me to never stop writing. Writing is where the money is. When I stop and think about it, touring with Mr. Gregory was one of the most amazing things I got to do. It was surreal to see how people admired him, looked up to him and I got to travel with him, host shows for him, to see him do show after show after show. He did different sets each show, often he would veer off into different topics on current events making it more than a comedy show, it became a history lesson. We would not just watch but listen to him do his set lasting almost two hours every night always learning something new. I just feel so grateful to hear him always talk about something I didn’t know. I learned more about the Civil Rights Movement from someone who was there. He talked about [everything from] what was going on in the world to how Trump got elected. Every time there was a new message in his bits during his sets making you feel smarter, empowered more informed but also entertained. I remember him calling people out during the show “you a dumb a– fool.” Mr. Gregory was unapologetic, feisty too.
I met him when he was 79 [or] 80 [and] worked with him for three years. It wasn’t really what he told you or the advice directly but I learned the most by watching him and paying close attention to his bits in his shows.
What would you say are the challenges in being a female comic?
I have been very blessed to be a female comic working consistently. I actually think it’s getting better now because there’s a void that’s starting to be filled. I have been able to get more opportunities as a female comic because I have a reputation of being funny. … The biggest challenge I have is fighting off all these male fans trying to roll up and holla. Seriously, I have been very fortunate that I don’t have problems getting booked for, getting on stages.
I had to balance being a mother to my amazing son. When I started doing stand-up he was a toddler, the older he got, the busier I got and he understands I am an entertainer, I have to travel. The challenge got easier when I saw how proud he was when saw me on TV. Having his support makes it all worth it!
Who are your top five comics?
I would have to give it up to some legends: Sinbad, Wanda Sykes, Ellen, D. L. Hughley and Bernie Mac.
What is next for you?
The sky is the limit. I am enjoying the rise and working to ready for what’s next for me. I will be performing in Chicago on the bill for the Rent Due Comedy Show on Nov. 2 at the Harold Washington Cultural Center. It’s going to be a really good show with comics who are exploding on the internet and can make you laugh on stage. You can join me every Monday on the South Side of Chicago at Frances’ show, [which] starts at 9 p.m.
I recently filmed Russel Simmons’ “All Def Comedy” on HBO coming out at the end of the year.
How can people find you online?
All over, Google me too!