Who: Geneva Joy
Something a little extra: Geneva was also featured in OffBeat Magazine this month
Q: Who do you feel like is the coolest inventor?
GJ: I think George Washington Carver was dope, and not only because of black history. He wouldn’t just invent something, he would drill into it to no end. He knew everything about what he studied and would use it in hundreds of different ways, like the sweet potato. Whenever I’m cooking with sweet potato oil in the kitchen with my mom, I think about this.
I love someone who is that thorough in their examination process. He takes inventions beyond the first stage. He was a beast who was super focused on what he was doing.
Q: How would you describe your comedy as a plate of food?
GJ: They say that if you put a whole bunch of world chefs in a room together and asked them what they wanted to eat that they would all say they’d want to eat diner food or fast food. My comedy is dirty, but it’s good, so as a plate of food, my comedy would be what a world-class chef would drunkly make at 3:00 in the morning, and then top that with cheese.
I love that we are talking about food because at our meetings for Black Girl Giggles, we started out doing a potluck since a lot of the female comedians have jobs, kids, and so much going on. I wanted to get together so we could lean on each other for support because as a comedian you’re often putting yourself on hard display, so having support through that is important. It’s hard enough dealing with the micro aggressions of the good-old-boys-club, whether that be from what other comics say or getting put last on the bill, on top of putting yourself out there as a comic, so I wanted to have a space where we could all support each other.
We would have these potlucks, and we wouldn’t coordinate them, so we would have the strangest pairing of food–enchiladas, carrot cake, hummus, watermelon, Jello shots, falafel salad. None of that matches!
Q: What’s a button you would like to make?
GJ: I grew up in the 80s, and I watched The Jetsons. I’m hella-pissed that we don’t have that conveyor thing that showers and dresses you. I thought by this time we would have the conveyor that brushes your teeth, washes your hair, gets you showered, and then dresses you. There are days I’m actually angry that we don’t have that.
And I look good in those triangle-framed dresses that Judy wore. I was ready for Jetson life, and I’m pissed it’s not here.
Q: What is your favorite memory with Black Girl Giggles?
GJ: I might have to give it to the potlucks. Before we were all organized and before we were having the festival, we almost had this secret group of comics. We had a group on Facebook, not everyone knew what we were doing, and then these potlucks were where we would hang out, crack jokes, and vent about things.
The first time we all appeared together was after one of those potluck. It was an open mic on a Sunday, we were all feeling it that night, so we showed up with 10 or 15 of us. A lot of us are known individually on the comedy scene, but for all of us to show up together was something different. People were looking around like, ‘Is something going on tonight?’ It was the sweetest thing.
Now we have the festival, and this year we’ve got around 25 other comics from outside of New Orleans coming here for it, so it keeps getting better. The festival really blew up, and I think that’s because there is a need for it.
With movements like Black Lives Matter and Black Power, it’s about black people having a chance at ‘normal’ since they’ve been pushed out of the circle for so long. With black comedians, we got stereotyped into one thing for a long time–thinking you’re only going to hear from the Moniques of Def Jams Comics, and you’re only going to hear them on certain channels.
But Black women are not one thing; we are individuals, just like everyone else. So when people come to a BGG shows, you’ve got me, who is loud and kinda dirty, and then you hear Camille, who sounds like a Texas beauty queen. For a long time minority women were only getting one representation, but BGG is showing that we are comedians, we’re telling jokes, and we are all different and individuals, so hopefully that sticks with people and makes them rethink old thoughts that might have made assumptions about people or stereotyped them.
Comedy gives you a window into people in a space that is funny, so it plants seeds.
Q: Who do you think is not funny?
GJ: A lot of times you see people get on stage, usually a white male, and for a punch there is a black joke or a black woman joke. It wouldn’t even be a good joke. It would just be awkward, and you could see it was being used as a punch in front of mainly white audiences. Or they’ll make a punch at women if it’s mainly an all-male audience.
That isn’t the case in New Orleans, at least, I see that changing. With New Orleans comedy, we have a lot of women, and the women on the scene–no matter what their race–make the scene here supportive and amazing. When you are at a New Orleans comedy show and either BGG comedians or women comics are there, the person on stage isn’t going to be making a ‘My girlfriend is so dumb or such a whore,’ joke because coming up behind you is a female comedian who will destroy you. You aren’t going to make a black joke because either BGG comedians are there or Young Funny, which is another great group, will be there standing by the bar watching you.
That has really elevated the comedy in New Orleans because you can’t make a gay, racist, or anti-feminist joke because the people who are there won’t allow it. We will shut you down. That makes the comedy better for everyone. It’s easy to entertain your own people, but because New Orleans has such a diverse audience, comedians here have to go harder. This is why we have such amazing talent. I really think that in the future the known-names of comedy are going to come out of New Orleans.
Geneva Joy performs every Thursday at Jeff D’s Comedy Cabaret at Oz on Bourbon at 10:00 PM. She will also be performing at The Joy Theater on Thursday, July 5 to kick off the Black Girl Giggles Comedy Festival. She will be appearing with Emmy Award-winning TV personality, film actor and comedian Sherri Shepherd as well as Kym Whitley, David Arnold and others. For a full run-down on the events and venues for Black Girl Giggles, you can check out their website here.