Jessica Williams, former senior correspondent for the Daily Show, put on a great performance last night. Penn State’s Student Programming Association hosted ‘For More We Turn to Jessica Williams’ in the HUB. It was a free comedy show with a valid student i.d starting at 10 p.m. About 75 to 100 people came out to this wonderful event during the Parents and Families Weekend.
Williams’ outgoing expression from her bright purple dreads all the way down to her ankle pizza socks gave the audience such a chill, and empowering vibe. Her jokes we so hilarious that the first line she opened up with, had people already laughing hysterically. Although Williams is such a comical story teller, the underlying meanings behind her jokes revealed a much more powerful message.
Williams opened up the show with a big welcome to The Penn State University. She talked about Ohio where her family is from, and told the audience about her love for her late grandmother. She said her grandmother is where her good sense of humor came from. All the days she spent with her watching the funny late night television shows inspired her. Williams told herself one day, ” If this makes her laugh this can be a valid art form that I want to do to keep me in her company”. From here Williams began her comedic career.
Growing up in a Christian household was hard for her. Williams walks the audience through the struggle of actually holding on to her faith. She said she felt like Christianity was forced down her throat because she had no option when it came to attending church every Sunday. The policies at the church were enforced for the women but not for the men. Gay men were hunted down in the church and kicked out. At this point, Williams felt a disconnect with her religion.
This isn’t the first time Williams felt a disconnect with an aspect of this world. She explains that she also felt disconnected from her hair. Growing up she was teased for how her hair looked, because she didn’t like getting it done. She disliked getting the hot comb to straighten it because it might burn you, it destroyed your natural hair texture, and your edges were meant to be left alone. Even her own people, those in her community, made her feel bad for not having her hair pressed or relaxed. She said, “It’s like straight hair was the peak aesthetic”. She then began questioning herself: Am I the right black? Am I not black enough?
Throughout her life, she felt a disconnect from her religion, womanhood, and blackness. However, this all motivated her to work hard, and eventually she was hired with John Stewart for the Daily Show. Williams showed a video at the end of her performance to illustrate her progression from the seven year old girl watching late night television with her grandmother, to the first black woman and the youngest to ever be a senior correspondent on the Daily Show.
Jessica Williams stressed that black women (and other minorities) have a right to be angry. They don’t have the same privileges as straight white males, and they have to work twice as hard to get some of the same things. As she closed out, all she asked was for those who are in privileged positions to become the minorities’ allies and advocate for them. A standing ovation broke out with a roaring applause as she exited the stage.
Jessica Williams recently left the Daily Show to work on an upcoming project on Comedy Central. Check out more on her Instagram @msjwilly.
Photo credits: Huffington Post