This week’s feature article is on “SUCH a f&*^%lady.”
Known as one of the “Queens of Comedy,” Adele Givens is a multidimensional woman with the sweetest spirit and the gift of creating live experiences for large audiences sending them into hysterical laughter.
Interviewed by: La Tasha K. Mason aka @Tash1216
Tell me where it all began; how/when did you know you had the gift of making people laugh hysterically?
I knew I was gifted when I started making my mother laugh. and I was only like 11 or 12 then. Although she laughed a lot in general, it was always something legitimately funny, and she pretty much ignored that stuff that was trying to be funny but being an #EPICFAILURE at it! LOL Once I started doing stand up for a live audience, I’d engage my mom just to browse through my brain and see what would make her laugh so that I could use it on my audience. I knew that if she laughed at it, it would work on my audience. She was truly my muse and I miss her immensely.
I know that there aren’t many resources in Chicago for those trying to break into “Hollywood” did you find there were lots of hurdles for you trying to break into show business?
Not really because I was simply trying to do comedy and not necessarily trying to break into show business. I have plenty of ‘break in ‘ experience though, being from the west side of Chicago 🙂 JUST KIDDING PEOPLE~
Wow. That is something I’m constantly trying to figure out. I know lots of things about Adele Givens but as far as “who” I am well that depends and varies. I’m like a chameleon in that I will change and adjust in order to stay comfortable and relevant for my environment and/or circumstances! Because like most people, I’d rather not be uncomfortable if I can help it. And usually I can help it.
One constant for me though is teaching. Who knew right? Adele Givens is a free lance teacher! I love learning and I love sharing what I know. I also love the freedom to be expressive. I enjoy doing things in my own ‘left handed way’. In my opinion, if one isn’t being injured by what I do, it’s ok for me to do it. I love people and I love talking to them. What some may consider downright shady might just intrigue me. It’s so interesting getting to know people regardless of how they’re perceived by others. I know. I’m weird. But it’s not hurting anyone so it’s all good.
Most people recognize you from “Queens of Comedy,” “Def Comedy Jam,” “Players Club,” and “Beauty Shop.” What brings you the most satisfaction, being on stage doing standup in front of a crowd or being behind the camera on the big screen?
Hands down the stage with the live audience is the most satisfying for me. Like I said, I love people, and I especially love the immediate feedback that comes along with the live audience. You can’t fake it when they’re right there in front of you. And that challenges you to BRING it! I like doing films and television but mostly for the experience. Acting is a great way to learn to be unselfish and sympathetic. Stepping outside of your own reality and becoming someone else is awesome, as long as you have that safety net of knowing that you can always come back to you!
Tell me what it is like being on Comedy Tours. I couldn’t imagine being your assistant or road manager because I don’t know how I would ever get any work done. I envision tons of laughter and fun. Is that what it is really like?
Being on tour is always fun because you get to hang around with your peers. Yes it can be quite hectic because we as artists tend to have our own individual ways of doing things and so structure is usually not an option, with the exception of show time. Don’t get it twisted though, most people I’ve toured with are consummate professionals and we get it done right at once the curtain opens. It’s at press time, lunch time, and all the other times we have together that we are off the chain and straight disorderly! (In a good way)
I hadn’t thought about it really. I just like to be entertained. If it’s a woman, man, child or even pet~ as long as I’m entertained, I’m good
I know that you have also made appearances on TV shows such as Moesha, The Parkers, The Hughleys, Martin, The Steve Harvey Show and more. Is that something that you would like to do more of? Can we look forward to a show starring you some day?
Television is definitely something I could do more of. I’d love to do some drama though. I want to work that lone tear like Denzel did in the film ‘Glory’. I thought that was tight! I’ve practiced that damn one tear move in my mirror for years now. I just need the perfect part to play so I can show it off! (Laughs)
Do you think that it is harder to survive the industry as a female comedian as opposed to the success of male comedians?
Of course. The industry like most things in our society, it is male dominated. In general though, this is a tough industry. People are very fickle. I hope to be around still doing comedy in twenty more years, but I know not to take it personally if that doesn’t happen. People in this business have to learn to be savvy with everything from the money they make to their next career move. Unless it makes you happy to drive a taxicab, you should try to invest wisely.
Do you feel like female comedians have to compete with each other or is it more like a circle of sisters watching each others back?
Again, that is something I’ve not really focused on. When I did the “Queens of Comedy” tour, we had a lot of questions regarding the ladies treatment of each other, and we were always really quite shocked about it. To be honest, I feel like that ‘issue’ is more fodder for conversation as opposed to a reality. Mostly, women in entertainment are much too busy to be in constant competition with each other…now if we were the “Real Housewives of Comedians” that might be a different story!
What advice would you give a young lady aspiring to be a comedian? What do you understand about the industry now that you wish you understood when you first came on the scene?
I would tell any aspiring comedian to love the job. Hell, I’d tell that to an aspiring taxicab driver! If you love what you do you’re bound to be successful at it. I’ve learned that patience is a must in this business. You can NOT push your dreams. In fact, just because you dreamt it doesn’t mean it has to happen. But you can have fun on the ride trying to make your dream come true…yes, indeed!
You love books and do a great deal of reading. Is this part of the inspiration for the material you come up with for your shows? If so, tell me about your thought process and what other methods you use to come up with your many ways of making people fall out of their seats laughing.
Generally speaking, I kind of let my ‘thought process’ do what it does. Many times, I really do surprise myself with the stuff that comes out of this brain. I have always loved reading but it’s usually for my own selfish fulfillment not necessarily to be inspiration for material. Honestly, people give me the most inspiration…Especially MY people. OOOOhhhh wee, you know yall are funny! I guess I’ve been subconsciously studying human nature for so long that it doesn’t even seem like work. I love my job!
You also do a lot of writing. Have you written any screen plays? If not, is it something that you’re interested in doing?
I love to write as much as I love to read. I have written many, many stories and I’m certain some would make for great screenplays. Between my unusual pattern of thinking and my experiences with people, my screenplays would be nothing short of Oscar material.
I don’t have any formal training as a “writer.” I’m pretty much self taught (you KNOW I got a GED right?) But I can see some of those stories becoming screenplays. I have a wonderful imagination, some might even call me a bit twisted (evil laugh) and sometimes I have to keep my writings to myself because I’ve learned that not everyone can appreciate the unusual and the twisted the way that I can.
Adele hangin’ out…
The legendary Ms. Shirley Murdock & Adele with Comedian Michael Coyler
What are the greatest misconceptions people have about you because you’re a comedian?
That I’m one dimensional. There is a lot more to Adele Givens than meets the eye on stage. I am so not simple that it’s taking ME to task trying to understand me. The fact is, I keep myself on my toes because not even I know what’s next. I appreciate that about myself *toots horn?* lol
One statement that I often hear celebrities make is that it is imperative to have the right people in your team. They say a great team = a great career and that loyalty is a MUST. Have you also found this to be true and have you had any unfortunate circumstances that made you come to realize that?
A long time ago, as a naive young comedian, I thought that when people showed you love that it was genuine. I think we’ve all had to experience being betrayed or disappointed by someone else. I also know that for me it was necessary for growth. When I think of the times I was upset by what someone else did that affected me, I have to realize that without the action, I’d have gone along with the wrong information about the person. I also know that if something someone else does affects me, it’s me that needs to make some adjustments to prevent that from happening again. Because people are people and you can’t expect them to be what YOU think they are, they can only be what they are. None of us are perfect. And sometimes it’s not even personal. So I’ve learned not to take it personal. With that being said, I could tell you to keep family and friends as a team. But nothing is foolproof. When I look at the benefits of growth, I have no doubt that everything that has happened, the good and the not so good, has been to my benefit. And I’m grateful for it all. Now does this mean that I won’t burn down the house of the next person that slights me? HELL NO! But again, we’re not perfect are we?
Do you give back to the community and in what ways?
Yes I do. I donate directly and through those that I trust. I’m a proud sponsor of the UNCF. I provided enough money for housing for victims of Katrina. Not just monetary help though. I get so much from helping people but for me, it feels kind of self-serving discussing it. Suffice it to say, I’m a firm believer in the expression “charity begins at home”.
You coined the title “Bitch” with ease; did most women find it offensive?
I didn’t do a survey, but I’m sure some people may have been offended by me. That was never my intention. I simply represent Adele. I use the word bitch, and I make no apologies for it. I’d bet money that you, me, Jesus and everybody in the world has offended people and we will do it again and again…Intentionally or not.
What person in the business gave you the best advice on this business and what was it?
Steve Harvey. He told me years ago that “no” is the most powerful word in this business. I’ve never forgotten that. He was absolutely correct!
How have you changed since your debut or are you the SAME Adele, with fatter pockets? lol
I started doing comedy in 1990. (Actually, it was very late in 1989, but I like to round it off for GED purposes), and so I hope I have changed some. People seem to put a negative stigma on ‘change’. It’s not a bad thing if you make good changes. I’ve grown as a person. I’m a mother. I have a license to kick ass now. I use to do it unlawfully. That changed. I don’t use pockets cause they haven’t made them big enough to hold all the things I like to carry around. LOL
What’s next for Adele?
Next for me is drama. I’m writing a dramatic story specifically with myself in mind for a juicy part!
She gave us much insight on how she perceives things and she had us all in stitches while doing it.
Be sure to follow Adele on Twitter & Facebook
Check out more pics of Adele Givens!!