Tiffany Haddish on Nasty Men, Her ‘SNL’ Feat and ‘Girls Trip’

Posted January 2, 2018 2:59 p.m. EST

Last year was a huge one for actress, comedian and writer Tiffany Haddish, who starred in the hit “Girls Trip” with big-name actresses Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Regina Hall and stole every scene. Her performance earned her the best supporting actress award from the New York Film Critics Circle, which is handing out the prizes Wednesday. (She was snubbed by the Golden Globes, to much surprise). She also became the first black female comic to host “Saturday Night Live,” bringing down the house with her infectious energy and sly advice for men accused of sexual misconduct. (“Listen fellas. Listen, OK? If you’ve got your thang-thang out, and she got all her clothes on, you’re wrong! You’re in the wrong!”) In December, she spoke with me by phone, while dashing between media appearances in New York.

Haddish: How are you doing, girl?

Q: I’m great. Thanks for chatting. This has been such a breakthrough year for you. It must feel dizzying.

A: I wouldn’t say it like that. It’s more like (breaking into song) finally it is happening to me, right in front of my face, and I know I’m excited. Finally it’s happening to me, after all the hard work and now it’s paying off. I just made that up.

Q: Where are you now?

A: I’m in a car heading back to my hotel in New York. I’m doing press for my book “The Last Black Unicorn.” I did “The View.” It’s so cool I got to be on with Whoopi. I got to meet Trevor Noah last night, then “Good Morning America.” I got to dance with George (Stephanopoulos). I’m going to “Sesame Street” today. It’s a dream come true. I always wanted to meet the puppets.

Q: Were you nervous before going on “SNL,” worried about having to address the sexual harassment stuff?

A: I was more excited and kind of ready to get it done. And I didn’t feel like I had to address it, but the show was telling me I should talk about current events. That’s the most current thing I know, and that’s what everybody’s talking about in the beauty shop. These nasty men being called out.

Q: Have you had to deal with sexual harassment?

A: Girl, yeah. I’m a beautiful woman.

Q: How did you deal with it?

A: I always make fun of the guy. I make it a joke. If they touch me, I say, “Take your damn hands off me.” Most of the time they get scared. And I let everyone know I’m a tattletale. That I will snitch. That might be why it took me so long to get where I’m at now.

Q: You hit big this year, but were you ever discouraged?

A: There’ve been times I felt like, “I don’t know if I want to do this.” That maybe I should go back to school and become a special-education teacher. But I love entertaining.

Q: You were so believable and spontaneous in “Girls Trip.” Were you following the script, or was a lot of that your own stuff?

A: They would let me play and do my own version of what they said. I would say 75 to 85 percent of it was me. Q: Did you have to audition?

A: I auditioned like four times. The final was a Skype audition with the director. It was super uncomfortable. I’m not used to auditioning over Skype. I’m used to doing other things on Skype. I said, “If I start coming out of my shirt or something like that, remind me where I’m out.” They had me do the character four or five different ways, and two weeks later I got the job and had to fly to New Orleans in three days.

Q: Had you met your co-stars before? Were you intimidated working with them?

A: I hadn’t met anybody. I was ready for it. I feel like they’re people just like I’m a person, so why would I be intimidated? We’re all the same. I was just excited. Very excited.

Q: You were the first black female comic to ever host “Saturday Night Live.” What did that feel like, breaking that barrier?

A: I had auditioned for “SNL” three different times, so to me it was, “Finally, I’m here.” And I was super grateful to be there in that capacity, as opposed to as a regular performer. To be a host is a super big honor. I couldn’t believe I was the first black woman comedian to do it. I Googled and saw that Whoopi Goldberg had been on it, so I reached out to her. I said, “Have you ever done “SNL”? She said, “Only a sketch.” I said, “You never hosted?” And she said, “You the first, bitch, you better do a good job.” Q: Was it a surprise, winning the New York Film Critics Circle Award for best supporting actress?

A: I didn’t know that existed. I had to ask people, “What is the importance of it?” Jada called me and told me, “I’m so proud of you.” I was like, “What do you mean?” She was like, “Girl, it is an honor.” And I said, “Why is it an honor?” And she said, “It’s an honor because they don’t like people.” I said, “Yeah they do, they gotta like somebody.” And she said, “It’s really hard to get in. You did a good job.” I still had to Google them to try to figure out how prestigious they were.

Q: Well thank you for taking the time. It’s been wonderful speaking with you.

A: Thank you, it’s wonderful speaking with you, too, girl. I hope you get a million dollars or meet the man of your dreams. I hope something magical happens for you, girl.