Kerry Coddett Keeps Bringing The Funny—And She’s Funnier Than The Day Before
One of the greatest gifts a person can give is the ability to make someone laugh. Comedian Kerry Coddett has been doing great things with her gift for the past several years. Hailing from the incredible talent pool that is Brooklyn, New York, Coddett was made for the stage at a young age.
With her spunky, yet quirky personality, it wasn’t long before Coddett was known for being the life of the party. Using her love for writing and the performing arts, the Brooklyn native expressed herself in many ways. From acting to dancing, and even rapping, Coddett is a natural born multifaceted woman.
With a background in fashion design and styling, her bright and bold personality eventually landed her the opportunity of contributing handmade pieces to rapper, Jay-Z. That was only the beginning for Kerry Coddett.
While colors and cardigans may have been an interest of Coddett’s, she carried her creativity over into developing a prominent platform for women of color in the comedic realm today. Offering nothing less than her infamous unapologetic, authentic touch of humor, Coddett has been seen on some of your most watched shows, such as, MTV’s Joking Off, Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, Why? w/ Hannibal Burress and Tru Tv’s Comedy Knockout.
Although she’s been instrumental within the comedy community for quite some time, writing and acting will forever be a part of the ‘Kerry Coddett Brand’. Writing a variety of articles for many of the most popular publications, her written work has gone viral over night. From her article on The Huffington Post about ‘White on White’ crime to analyzing the problem behind Saturday Night Live’s lack of casting black woman, Coddett caused a bit of a social frenzy.
Nevertheless, Kerry Coddett kept reaching for success. We must say, she’s doing pretty well so far.
I’m from New York. I’ve done so many things. If it involves me expressing myself and performing arts, I’m in.
See our interview with Ms. Coddett below as she takes us through her journey as a female comedian, producing her own projects, and what’s to come…
Parlé Mag: When did you know that you wanted to become a comedian?
Kerry Coddett: I don’t know that it was a conscious decision. I don’t know that I said ‘I’m definitely going to be a comedian’ until I already was one. But, I’ve always been a performer—an entertainer. I’ve always been involved in the performing arts. When I was younger, I used to act and write and do different characters, impressions and accents. I would mimic everyone around me. At family functions, I would write little plays and force my sister and cousins to be in them, and we’d act them out. It just sort of progressed. When I was younger, that was the type of stuff I was just writing by myself. Post-college, I started rapping and writing parodies, and that turned into being funny.
Parlé Mag: Right!
Kerry Coddett: Because I was always writing, I used to do spoken word. I’m from New York, so I used to do slam poetry at the Nuyorican. I’ve done so many things— dancing, writing poetry, writing rap songs. If it involves me expressing myself and the performing arts, I’m in. After college, I wrote a rap parody about Jay-Z. At the time, he had just come out with “D.O.A”;‘Death of AutoTune’. I remember being so annoyed because we all enjoyed autotune. We were all jamming to T-Pain, and, then, here comes Jay-Z like, ‘You can’t do this anymore.’ So, I made a diss song about it. [laughs] It was a parody, and I’m from Brooklyn so you don’t go against Hov! It was a very bold thing to do. I called my parody, “Death of AARP”—as in ‘death to old people’. I rapped, ‘This is anti-grandpa, death of the baby boomer’—I went in on him. This was at the beginning of social media. I think Twitter had just come out; ThisIs50 and Worldstar had just started. People were writing all of these crazy comments about me, I got death threats, and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s it? It’s just some mean comments? Oh, we out here!’ I loved it. So I just kept writing and eventually that energy channeled into something different. Those bars had punchlines, and those punchlines turned into jokes.
Parlé Mag: How did you develop the aspiration to do stand-up? How did you come into that?
Kerry Coddett: I wanted to be an actress and I liked writing so I started taking improv and sketch writing classes. A lot of people in the improv community also did stand-up and/or sketch comedy. I was working with an improv team and then I realized that I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to be funny on my own. With the improv team, you perform, but you can’t plan it. Everything comes together on the stage. If it doesn’t work or if it’s not funny, it’s kind of hard to tell what you did wrong, and I am obsessive about my craft. I like to sit down and watch the tape after. I think, ‘Okay. How can we fix this?’ Improv isn’t like that; it’s just this loosey-goosey thing where it’s not as definitive. My teammates were just like, ‘It was one scene; it already happened. We’ll do better next time.’ And I’m like, ‘Nah, we gotta watch tapes! I recorded it. I brought a tripod; we’ve got to see where we went wrong!’ [laughs] It frustrated me a little bit, so I wanted to try stand up but I was scared to do it. But then I told myself, ‘Out of all of the things you’ve ever done, you’ve never been scared. So, the fact that you’re scared to do stand-up, means you have to do stand up.’ And I was kind of forced to do it. My friend worked in HSBC corporate and she was heading up their event planning committee. She got a budget to hire talent. And she was like, ‘I think you’re funny. I’m going to hire you to do stand-up.’ I was like, ‘But I’ve never done stand-up before!’ And then she said, ‘Well, I’m going to pay you five hundred dollars to do it.’ I was like, ‘I guess I’m doing stand-up now!’ [laughs] And it was my first time. People always had these horror stories and they were like, ‘You’re going to bomb your first time. You’re going to bomb; you’re going to bomb!’ And I was terrified. So I asked her, ‘How much time am I supposed to do?’ She said, ‘You know, ten to fifteen.’ I didn’t know anything back then. It takes so much work to get even get a good five minutes of material, so when she said, ‘ten to fifteen.’ I was like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’ll get it together.’ I stayed up for forty hours straight, and wrote and wrote. [laughs] Then, I did it; I got up and it ended up being closer to thirty minutes. I did a thirty minute set and crushed it. It was so crazy. I could feel the electricity in my veins. I could feel the energy at the top of my fingertips. It was just the craziest out of body experience. From the moment I got my first laugh, I was like, ‘Oh, I want to do this forever!’
Parlé Mag: That is amazing. So, being that comedy was once a male dominated field. What are some of the challenges you face now or have faced as a female comedienne?
Kerry Coddett: I think it’s so funny that you said ‘was once a male dominated field; it’s still a male dominated field! It is definitely still.
Parlé Mag: [laughs]
Kerry Coddett: I’m going to go ahead and say that all fields are male dominated—except for maybe nursing, PR, and fashion design. Comedy is a little more challenging for a lot of reasons. There’s this stereotype that women aren’t funny. We [women] have to face that. A lot of these comedy line-ups are always male dominated. You’d be surprised out of ten comics on a show, you might just see one woman. Sometimes, they’ll all be men. And when I come on stage sometimes, the host will be like, ‘Ladies, ladies, ladies! May I have your attention? We’ve got a lady coming up; yup, we’ve got a female!’, and it almost tells the men in the audience that it’s time to stop listening. It’s to the point where now, when a male host asks me how do I want to be introduced, I’ll say ‘This is how you pronounce my last name. These are my credits. And do not mention that I’m a lady, lady, lady. Thank you.’ They look confused sometimes, but I don’t care. One time, a host came up to me after I got off stage, and, he was like, ‘You know, when you told me not to introduce you as a lady, I know what you mean. I hate when people announce me as the ‘Haitian comic’, and say, ‘Are there any Haitians? We have a Haitian comic up next. I hate that.’ So, I kind of know how you feel. Thank you for saying that.’ Another challenge is trying to avoid being objectified. You have to think about what you look like. I don’t like to wear clothes that are too fitted because it’s distracting. One time I did a show and the host was bombing. I came on and I crushed. I practically saved the show. But when he came back onstage, he was like ‘Uh, I didn’t hear one thing she said, but did y’all see her fat ass?’ It sucked to have him go up and have the last word on that. The Brooklyn in me wanted to go back on stage, grab the mic, and roast him. But I couldn’t do that. So it’s frustrating. I can’t do anything about my appearance, so I really try to ‘out funny’ my look. I produce my own show, though. I run one of the largest—if not the largest—female-produced comedy shows in New York City, called Brooklyn, Stand Up!! I make it a point to make sure the lineups are diverse and I make sure I have women on the bill.
Parlé Mag: How has the feedback from your fans, your family, your friends, impacted you?
Kerry Coddett: I’m just really grateful for all of the support. My friends and family have always, always supported me in all of my endeavors. There’s so many different things I’ve done and they’ve supported me through it all. Even before comedy. I was a fashion designer and a stylist. I actually made custom clothes for Jay-Z, before I dissed him. My friends have always been like, ‘No matter what you do, we know you’re going to do your best at it, and we support you.’ That’s been great. It’s great when people understand you and get your brand of humor.
Parlé Mag: What would you say is your biggest achievement in your career thus far and was like your ‘wow’ moment where you were like, ‘Wow. I finally made it.’?
Kerry Coddett: Well, I don’t know that I made it. But, I do know I’ve come a long way. So, I’m grateful for that. I know there’s so much more that I want to do and I still feel like I’m not working hard enough or fast enough. That’s just my own personal hang up, though. I have an intense tunnel vision. I’ll be working and working and some achievements just pass by me, so I have to remind myself to look up, take in that moment, and be present.
Parlé Mag: Right.
Kerry Coddett: But, if I had to choose, there were two moments when I looked up and said, “Wow. Did that just happen?” Once, I was on The Nightly Show on Comedy Central and one of my favorite authors growing up saw me and contacted me. Eric Jerome Dickey. Do you know him?
Parlé Mag: Yes. I’ve heard of him!
Kerry Coddett: Oh okay! It’s a big deal to me because as a little black girl growing up, I loved that his books always had these great black characters, and the stories were entertaining, but not ratchet.
Parlé Mag: Yes!
Kerry Coddett: One day, he shot me a message on Facebook and I didn’t know it was him. He was like, ‘Yo, I just saw you and I think you’re star, and you’re wonderful, and you have a voice.’ And I was like, ‘Shut up! Is this really you?’ It was. And I lost it. I was like, ‘I’m a huge fan. I’ve read all your books when I was way too young to be reading them with my fast ass!’ I’ve always liked to read. [laughs] He said, ‘Give me your address. I’ll send you some books,’ and I didn’t really think he would. But he sent me ten of them! Hardcopies, all autographed, signed with a lovely note. I flipped out! That was pretty cool because even though I was excited to be on Comedy Central, I couldn’t believe that Eric Jerome Dickey found me. The other ‘wow’ moment is that I’ve written two articles, one for The Atlantic and one for The Huffington Post, that have both gone viral. In a cool way, they are a part of history. I’m proud of my TV appearances, but it’s the stuff that I’ve written that has impacted actual change in real life that makes me pinch myself. The first article that I wrote was the SNL article back when there was all of this controversy about there not being enough black females. I basically wrote what was then the only historical analysis of all the roles played by every woman of color on SNL. I addressed the controversy and I was just saying, you know, ‘if SNL doesn’t find women, it’s not because the black women aren’t ready for SNL; it’s just that SNL isn’t ready for black women.’ There are so many of us out here and they want to pigeonhole us into these stereotypical roles. So, it’s this piece that went on to get shared, and shared, and shared—then, the auditions happened. It was so funny; when I wrote the piece, people were like, ‘Are you sure you should write this piece, because it’s kind of like you’re criticizing SNL. What if you want to audition for SNL one day?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t see myself auditioning for SNL.’ SNL is a part of the improv and sketch world; I wanted to do stand-up. But then, I got called in to audition! Once the auditions happened, it became a huge story when someone at the Daily News found out that one of the girls who auditioned, was the same person that previously wrote the article criticizing SNL. I didn’t get the part, but three black women did get hired. So, it was cool because— in my article, I said, ‘They need to have women of color on the show and also in the writers room.’ And I remember, after they announced that Sasheer got the on camera role we all auditioned for, three days later, they announced that they also hired Leslie and LaKendra to work in the writers room. So I was like, “Hooray! Three black women at the same damn time!” That was pretty cool.
Parlé Mag: Yes. So, you made a change!
Kerry Coddett: Yeah! That was really dope.
Parlé Mag: I know it was!
Kerry Coddett: The last one that I wrote—which is one that is really, really dear to my heart, is called, “White on White Crime”. It’s a satirical article that I wrote for The Huffington Post. It’s basically talking about white on white crime in the same way that the media talks about black on black crime. It’s like, we have to do something about these white people, they’re rioting over sports; they’re killing each other. But my article is backed up by actual FBI statistics. It’s just a cool way to flip the tables. That article—especially with all of the things that are going on within this country—just keeps getting shared, and shared, and shared. Like, Talib Kweli is always arguing with people, these Twitter trolls. And I keep seeing him saying, ‘Boom! Time out. Don’t talk to me about black on black crime. Read this article.” Even with #blacklivesmatter. When people go, ‘If #BlackLivesMatter, then what about black on black crime?’ I see people respond with my article like, ‘Boom! How about white on white crime?’ It’s really awesome because we’ve never been able to articulate a response to a question so loaded, so quickly.
Parlé Mag: It’s just amazing that you’re able to reach people. So, besides comedy, you also spend your time writing. We see that you have written and developed your own sketch comedy series, The Coddett Project. How did that come about?
Kerry Coddett: I did that before I started doing stand-up, actually. Because I was doing improv and sketch. I can do so many different accents and characters. But nobody’s going to give me a role where I get to play a Jewish lady from Long Island, ‘talking like this.’ No one’s going to give me the role where I’m allowed to just be quirky and weird. So, I just wrote it and did it myself. We were like, ‘Let’s produce it’—it took a long time to put it together. It took me two and a half years of hard work. It was really cool because, you know, when you do things on the web, you spend a lot of money and a lot of time and put everything into it, which, I did. We did so much work, and, you know, you want your things to go viral! And they didn’t. But getting a solid twenty-thousand or a solid ten thousand views still felt good. Even with everything, I’m doing now, it’s nice to still go and look at those videos. So, even though I didn’t become some huge YouTube star, I’m still happy that I did it and I got the experience. I was able to do what I loved and to put it out there the way that I liked. Now, people can use those clips to look and see the things that I’ve done that I’m proud of.
“That’s what I would tell my younger self: Just keep shining and don’t dim your light for anybody else.”
Parlé Mag: Speaking of writing, would you ever consider writing comedic films or anything of that sort?
Kerry Coddett: Yeah! I want to write everything. My next project that I’m working on is a scripted half-hour show. But I want to do so much more. That’s why when you’re like, ‘What is your biggest achievement?’ I’m like, ‘Girrrrrrl. [laughs] My vision board! Finally completing my vision board is my biggest achievement.’ All of the goals I want to achieve are on there. Like, I want to do a one-woman show one day. Whoopi has been one of my biggest comedic inspirations, and I just like that she’s been able to create her own lane and do whatever she wanted. I love that! So, I want to do that, and I could see myself writing a film one day, but that’ll probably be later on. I have to learn how to write a thirty-minute show first, chile’!!! [laughs]
Parlé Mag: We’ll be looking out for that! What advice would you give your younger self starting out?
Kerry Coddett: Don’t feel like you have to apologize for being ahead of your time. That sounds so crazy to say. It’s just that I’ve always been younger than everyone else around me. I started high school when I was twelve because I skipped a grade in elementary school. I got to college at sixteen, but I graduated a year and a half early, so I was done with undergrad at nineteen. I’ve always kept my age from people. I hated when people were like, ‘Oh, you’re too young for this…’ When I started doing stand-up, I used to tell people I was doing it longer than I really was, because the first time I told somebody how long I was doing it, they were like, ‘Oh, you’re just a baby. You know you’re not going to get good until you’ve been in here fifteen years, right? Yup! Ten years is when you just start to figure it out’, and I’m like, ‘Damn! Was that supposed to be encouraging?’ So then, the next show, I got off stage and another comic was like, ‘You’re really funny. How long have you been doing this?’ I’d still only been at it a few months, but I said, ‘Three years, on and off’. And he said ‘Oh, Yeah, it shows. You’re really good.’ I don’t feel the need to do that any more, but I still feel a little insecure when people ask me about it. I’m still learning, though; it is what it is. Your experience is your experience. It might’ve taken you ten years, but maybe it’ll take me five! Or maybe it will take me twenty years! I don’t know, but don’t make me feel bad because I work hard and I work smart! [laughs] That’s what I would tell my younger self. Just keep shining and don’t dim your light for anybody else. Other people’s problems with you are sometimes problems that they have with themselves.
Parlé Mag: Where would you like to see yourself in the next five years?
Kerry Coddett: In five years, I want to be in season three of my own show. I want to have my one-hour special out. It could be on Netflix; it doesn’t have to be on HBO. I really would like to do my one-woman show. I feel like there are no limits. I have an idea of the things I want to do, but I’m open to new experiences. I don’t know where the road will take me. I still might want to be a rapping version of Beyoncé. I used to be a professional dancer; I still love to dance. So maybe, I’ll put out a rap album one day. Who knows?
Parlé Mag: Well, hopefully, we’ll be the first to get tickets to the tour!
Kerry Coddett: Definitely!
Parlé Mag: Any upcoming projects you’re working on that we can look forward to?
Kerry Coddett: Yeah! I’m working on a pilot. A TV pilot. But, I can’t say much about it yet. I’m really passionate about my monthly stand-up comedy show, Brooklyn, Stand Up!! It’s a great showcase and a platform for amazing talent. Joking Off is coming back in August; I’m really excited about that. But other than that, I’m just trying to keep on being funny. Being funnier than I was the day before.
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