The Last Black Unicorn(8)

My social worker didn’t want to go down to the courts to help me. It was summertime, so I was out of school. I decided I was gonna go down to the courthouse and get this permission myself. I caught the bus and took about three transfers to get all the way to the family courts, which is, like, in the city of Alhambra or some shit.

I went to the clerk, I found out who my judge was, I went into his courtroom. He wasn’t noticing me, not paying me any attention, the bailiff wouldn’t talk to me. I was like, Wow, just like my real parents, my state parents don’t care either. Then, I finally stood up, and I asked the bailiff:

Tiffany: “Can I talk to the judge?”

Bailiff: “What you got?”

He took the papers to the judge, and he came back.

Bailiff: “It’s not one of the cases on file, so we can’t do it.”

I went back down to the clerk’s office.

Tiffany: “Can you make it so I can see the judge?”

Clerk: “We’ll send your case up to the courtroom. But you have to come back tomorrow.”

I went through all that again the next day, and they were still not paying attention to me.

But this time, I was prepared. I had brought a Walkman, a magazine, chewing gum, a soda—all the stuff they say not to have. Today, I was going to get their attention. They were not gonna ignore me.

So I was flipping the magazine, popping the bubblegum, and drinking a soda, and the judge was trying not to notice. Then all of a sudden, he kind of snaps:

Judge: “Who are you? What are you doing in my courthouse?”

Tiffany: “I’m Tiffany Haddish. I’m here so you can sign my papers.”

Judge: “What are these papers for?”

Tiffany: “I’m trying to be on the news. I need to be on the news.”

Judge: “What do you need to be on the news for?”

Tiffany: “I’m at the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp, I’m gonna be a world-famous comedian, and I need you to sign this paperwork, so that I can be on the news story they want to do about me.”

Judge: “And why do you need to be on the news to be a world-famous comedian?”

Tiffany: “Because, then that way, my dad’s gonna see me, he gonna be really proud, then everybody gonna be really proud. I’m gonna be really funny, I’m gonna make people laugh, and that’s gonna be my job forever, and I’mma be a world-famous comedian, and then I’ll be happy.”

He looked at me over his glasses, staring at me for a second. Everyone in the courthouse was dead quiet.

Judge: “Are you sure about all of this?”

Tiffany: “Yes, I am very sure. I know this.”

Judge: “Well, if you act onstage as funny as you act now, then you probably will be a world-famous comedian.”

Then he read my case. He asked me:

Judge: “Do you know who your father is?”

Tiffany: “Nope. I haven’t seen him since I was three.”

Judge: “Where’s your mom?”

Tiffany: “She’s locked down in a mental facility. She crazy.”

Then he signed the paper.

I was all happy. That bus ride back felt much shorter.

? ? ?

The news came, and they filmed me. It went real good, and they told me when it would be on, and I was real excited.

Then the day it was supposed to come on, that day, Princess Diana goes and gets killed in a car wreck.

I got bumped. It’s cool, though. I wasn’t mad. She was a princess, I get it.

It was two months before it finally came on the air. I was so happy watching it. I felt like a star already. It was the first time I had ever seen myself as valuable, worth people’s time or attention.

After that comedy camp, they started letting me do stand-up. Like, onstage. Sometimes, I would get to MC, sometimes do a set. At first, it was all during the day.

Later, I was going up to the Laugh Factory on a Friday or Saturday night. Night shows are much bigger. I was too young to go real late, but they would let me go up on the eight o’clock show and get like five minutes. I would do my set, and I would leave. I wasn’t allowed to stay in there, ’cause of the alcohol.

And they would give me like ten or fifteen bucks. That was just enough to cover bus fare, but it was cool. I was getting paid to tell jokes. I was on my way.

I did that all through high school, till I was like eighteen. And then, I had to quit.

I had to quit comedy, because I was homeless, and I was supposed to go to NYU, and I had no idea what to do.

I know, it’s confusing. Here’s how it went:

Once I turned eighteen, my grandma sat me down.

Grandma: “Since I ain’t getting paid for you now, you need to go to school. You grown. Go on, get out there. You got friends. You’ll make it.”

I had gotten accepted into NYU, but they weren’t paying my way. I didn’t have no money, and my grandma was still taking care of my brothers and sisters. I was like, What if something happens to her? Who’s gonna be here for them?

So I decided I’m gonna go to Santa Monica Community College, and I’m gonna get a job.

I was basically couch surfing then. I was just going to all my friends’ houses. Homeless as hell, just traveling around with my plastic bins. The ones with wheels on them and stuff.

At that point, I had to stop doing comedy. I was only making $10 or $15 a show. I couldn’t live off of that. I was emancipated, and I needed a roof over my head. Getting paid $10 or $15 wasn’t gonna cut it. I could not find time to go to college, and work, and then also take a bus to do comedy. It just didn’t work.

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