Comedienne turns heartbreak into performing career

By Darlene Donloe

Contributing Writer

Breaking up is no laughing matter, but it helped Tacarra Williams realize she was funny.

After a relationship ended, she needed something different in her life, so the Bronx native, who had to “go find herself,” took her pain to a comedy club stage and turned it into a series of personal, comical truths that turned out to be a healing source for both her and members of the audience.

“The first time I was on stage, women came up to me after the show and told me how they could relate to what I said about the breakup,” said Williams, who has been doing comedy for 13 years. “I talked about how women break up and how men break up. I was supposed to do three minutes. It was eight. The women said my stories helped.”

Williams’ funny stories landed her a spot on Katt Williams’ “The Dark Matter Tour,” currently on the road nationwide. The lineup includes Miss Pretty Ricki, Mark Curry, Tommy Davidson, Monique, Williams, and host Red Grant.

While the comedy circuit has always been top-heavy with male comics, Williams was fearless when it came to throwing her hat into the comedy ring.

She came by her toughness and fearlessness through being a preschool teacher, as well as a life-skills coach for adults in jails across Southern California for five years.

“I had a teaching credential,” Williams said. “I loved teaching pre-school but being responsible for other people’s kids is tough. 

“I also loved teaching in the adult jails. It was a great job. A selfless-job. I learned about myself. I taught both men and women about alcohol abuse, domestic violence, parenting and anger management. I hate that people don’t get the help they need until they are in jail. I gotta say, ‘I do miss it — but I wouldn’t go back to it.’ I’m all about comedy now.”

Williams, the only female in the history of the Shaq Comedy All Star Competition to make it to the finals, and the first female host for Chocolate Sundaes at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, has always been a fan of stand-up. The third oldest of eight children, Williams said when she was younger, she and her siblings would do “Yo momma jokes” on their mother.

“Our mom would yell, ‘I heard you,’” Williams said. “It was pretty funny.”

When she looks back on her career, Williams doesn’t know if she decided to do comedy or if comedy decided for her.

“After that initial show, comedians were calling me and asking me to join their shows,” she said. “Within six months there was a buzz about me in New York. Within a year, I was touring. It all happened so fast.”

Eventually, Williams wanted more so in 2012 she moved to Los Angeles. Since then, Williams said her life as a female comedienne has flourished.

“I’m having a good time,” she said. “Starting, it can be tough. When I first started, they told me pretty comediennes aren’t funny. They said, ‘You can’t be both.’ They said, ‘Don’t talk about sex.’ Sometimes you just want to go on stage and be funny. 

“When I started stand up, I didn’t know who I was,” she added. “One minute you sound like Monique, next you sound like Sommore. You try to stay in your lane. I’m comfortable with it. My advice to anyone starting is to figure out who you are.”

Williams, who previously toured with Chelsea Handler, started touring with Katt Williams (no relation) in last August. It was her first tour with a male comic.

“I was skeptical of touring with men because I had heard so many horror stories,” said Williams, who has opened for Tony Rock, DeRay Davis and Bill Bellamy. “I decided to take the tour because I wanted to get more notoriety. Katt has a diverse audience. I want to reach that level. I can’t do that by myself.”

One thing Williams, a mother of three, had to get used to was the amount of travel involved. The Katt Williams tour will hit 100 cities.

“The travel is a lot,” she said. “We’re in two different cities in a weekend. Most tours start on Thursday. We land, relax for a day, perform on Friday, and perform on Saturday. It’s a lot but it’s worth the payout. When I get on stage to do my 15-minute set, I forget my issues and my drama. I feel love.”

Williams, a fraternal twin, gets most of her comedic material from everyday life.

“Just being a parent, those jokes write themselves,” said Williams, who recently started hosting the CW show, “Totally Funny Kids.” “My style is transparent. I can be clean. Sometimes I’m not. I talk about being a mom to a teenage daughter and an adult child and being divorced. I don’t test it out before doing it on stage. I find it’s OK to be afraid to do something.”

“The show, ‘Totally Funny Kids,’ is a clip show of the funniest home videos,” said Williams, who was the runner-up on NBC’s “Bring the Funny.” “It’s kids doing the funniest things. It’s a family-oriented, laugh-packed clip show featuring the funniest, most absurd and sometimes shocking videos. It’s safe for the whole family.”

The show also includes reactions from hysterically imperfect parents. Each episode culminates with the winning clip reveal of the week’s funniest moment.

This spring, Williams said fans can see her 30-minute special on Comedy Central’s, “The Next Level,” presented by comic Kevin Hart, and she will appear on the next Comic View, produced by Hart and hosted by Mike Epps.

Although their job is to make others laugh, Williams said, “What most people don’t know, is that comedians, just like everyone else, have real issues and anxiety.”

“A lot have drug problems and depression,” she said. “I have anxiety and depression. With the state of the world right now, who doesn’t?  I use the stage to let it out. I focus on my mental health. In the end, we need you as much as you need us.”

Williams said comedy isn’t for everyone. It’s harder than it looks. She wants to clarify that there is a distinction between a comic and a comedian.

“A comic is a knock, knock joke comic,” she said. “Anybody can be that. Being a comedian is an art — that’s improv.”

Known throughout the comedy world as “The Beautiful Beast,” Williams said there is a stigma for women regarding beauty and being funny.

“I was told, ‘Oh, you’re so funny, I didn’t expect that,’” Williams said. “You’re a beast on stage. I’ll take that.”

Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at