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Ziwe Fumudoh Uses Humor to Push Racial Buttons

Ziwe Fumudoh Uses Humor to Push Racial Buttons


Ziwe Fumudoh

Age: 27

Hometown: Lawrence, Mass.

Now lives: In a three-bedroom apartment in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, with a roommate.

Claim to fame: Ms. Fumudoh is a saucy and sarcastic comedian known for her barbed satire of race, politics and the pitfalls of young adulthood. (Forbes recently said she possessed “the confidence of an old comedy pro.”)

Examples of her elastic oeuvre include “Ponderosa With Omarosa,” a hip-hop jam about Omarosa Manigault Newman (sample lyric: “Drinking dark and Stormy Daniels, watching Oval Office scandals”), and “Baited With Ziwe,” a YouTube series in which she tricks her white friends into blurting out racial faux pas. “I’m a little bit of an antagonist who likes to push people’s buttons,” Ms. Fumudoh said. “I like to laugh at things that are really sad because it makes me feel better.”

Big break: Before contributing jokes to The Onion and “The Rundown With Robin Thede”(a short-lived comedy show on BET), she got recognized for her comedic timing as an intern at Comedy Central in 2013.

During her second week on the job, she wrote a joke (“gay, set, match”) that was used on “The Colbert Report” during a segment on same-sex marriage legislation. “Fun fact: I did this internship because I had learned Donald Glover had done it a couple years before me,” Ms. Fumudoh said.

Latest project: She is currently a writer on “Desus and Mero,” a weekly late-night talk show hosted by Daniel Baker and Joel Martinez that had its premiere last month on Showtime. “I’ve been following them for years, so it’s really cool to finally connect with them,” she said.

Next thing: A music video for her latest comedic bop, “From Melania to Sri Lanka,” will be released this month. “Pop Show,” a showcase of her dichotomous artistic persona Ziwé (note the accent), takes place monthly at Union Hall in Brooklyn. “It feels like a Beyoncé concert on mushrooms — without the budget,” she said.

Reading is fundamental: Ms. Fumudoh said studying poetry and taking African-American studies courses at Northwestern University prepared her well for her career lampooning social norms. “I’ve always had this real inclination toward reading, literature and critique,” she said. “I say things so horrendously offensive with a nod and wink, so people can see the commentary behind it.”



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