ComedyFilm / TVMusicRaceViral Sensations
An Interview with The Daddy We’ve Never Had
October 26, 2023
He can see you coonin’ in the streets tonight, beware!
A comedian, writer, director, and everything else in between, Daddy releases his debut EP, Segregated Summer, a comedic musical project that’s a mix between humor, Black issues, and race relations. From being born in Egypt to a Senegalese dad and a Congolese mom, raised in Ireland, moving to Atlanta during his adolescence, and now being based in New York, this multi-hyphenate creative is no stranger to embedding his world view and societal issues into his art. In a time where it’s difficult to ignore the social climate around us, many still try. Yet, certain artists use their creativity to engage their audience with these realities, even if that means interweaving the difficult truths within the echoes of laughter. We sat down with Daddy to speak about what inspires his specific style of comedy, how the outside world informs and influences his artistic expression, and how this manifests in his many projects that he builds to make comedy a safe space for the Black community.
AFROPUNK: Let’s get it out the way. Your name is Daddy.
Daddy: Yes, haha. My birth name is Daddy. It’s my legal name. It’s not a stage name.
And we gonna respect that! Put that toxic masculinity and homophobia away fellas!
[Laughter] Say it outloud as you read the article. DADDY!
[Laughter] So, you dropped the “You A Coon” music video. Tell us about Segregated Summer, the project! How did it come to fruition?
It came together very naturally. I’ve been making music for awhile and one day I had my brother’s music equipment in my apartment. I made a lil a beat and I started saying “coon,” for some reason, to the beat [laughter]. So then I just made a quick TikTok and there were captions on it like, ‘Black men that don’t date Black women,” etc. Then it started doing well and people were asking “where’s the full version!” And I had never really had that happen with my music on TikTok. So I went to my brother’s, and we made the song the next day! I already make funny snippet songs so I think it was getting to the point where people wanted full versions. Once I did [“You A Coon”] I was like “lemme do another one, and another one.” And within two weeks, I had the whole EP done.
You direct as well, you’re a multihyphenate, you do it all, you’re ‘Every Woman.’ How did you come up with the “Nightmare on Coon Street” concept for the music video?
I struggled for a long time to come up with a concept, that’s why the EP came out at the end of Summer even though it’s called “Segregated Summer”. I had the EP done in May!
It was on Colored People time!
Yeah the whole summer I was like “I gotta put out a video for ‘You A Coon,’ then I’ll put out the next song!” But it got to the end of summer and I had to put the project out before the summer ended. I always had the idea that I wanted it to be like a movie trailer because I see myself making movies. I know all the, you know, coons that I mentioned in the video will be characters in the video. So I was like, what’s the movie gonna be? Then one day I was with my brother and we were like “what’s every coon’s nightmare?” And we was like Malcolm X or just a militant ass nigga. And I was like, man imagine Malcolm X came back from the dead every Halloween and killed coons? Then my brother was like, “that’s the video!” [laughter]
[Laughter] That’s so funny!
So then literally, I just started putting [it] together, I just started writing like little vignettes of what could happen and planned it with…Hannah who shot the video. We just started bouncing ideas of like, okay, “what’s gonna happen with all the different coons?”
The way we speaking about coons right now [laughter], it’s so–
Nonchalant and like, professional!
That’s the thing whenever I’m talking to anyone about things that I do, like whether it’s Supernigga and even that video, I’m trying to explain the most ridiculous thing in the most serious way [laughter].
On Race, Humor, & Comedic Safe Spaces
That’s a good segue to talk about how in your music and in your humor, you tackle race and other social issues that Black folk deal with. What is that process like for you?
There’s two things. I started writing comedy in high school and at the same time I got into filmmaking. With stand up comedy, I remember from the beginning I was always talking about race. But I remember, my dad would always get on me like, “Why you talking about race? Why you talking about white people?” I was always like, I don’t know what else to talk about. Even with my filmmaking, I would deal with race and experimental films. And so I think when I look back, I think a big part of it is one, my background. Growing [up], traveling around, being in Ireland where I was one of the only black kids, hyper aware of race. Then moving to Black America in Georgia and, you know, learning all about police brutality over here. Race was just always very present in my life. So when I got to college, it was around that time when I’m really getting into comedy and film and a little bit of music, and at that time when BLM marches was happening. I’m the kind of person where whatever’s going on around me, it’s gonna make its way into my work. It was such an intense racial and political climate when I was really getting into the art forms that I’m interested in. So I feel like that just naturally informed how I create.
I always say that I think comedy is really healing for our community. I think comedy has been a form for our community to be able to commune and talk together about the shit that we deal with, and just express and laugh. Do you feel that way?
I agree. Because I think, for one, nobody wants to have a sad ass or angry ass conversation all the time. But then when you can find a way to laugh about it, it just makes it easier for everyone to digest it. And then people who wouldn’t necessarily think to have the conversation or know how to have the conversation, now it’s like, “oh, we’re laughing, we’re laughing!” And then the truth is gonna stick with us so we can think on it later. Or whether we’re thinking on it in a moment, but eases you into the conversation. Which is for me again, why I like to do it. When people come to my comedy shows, a lot of people will be like, “I don’t love comedy shows, but I like this.” And I guess ’cause it’s actually about something that matters to you. So you can laugh and then you leave having real conversations with your friends or whoever you came with.
That makes a lot of sense. With the recent comedic climate where people are acknowledging comedy is useful and helpful, yet the conversation is shifting [to] what is funny to talk about and the difference between punching up and punching down, especially within the Black community. So for your comedy, do you keep in mind how to keep it an intersectional safe space?
I very much take the audience into consideration. If I’m saying something that comes across the wrong way to the people that I don’t want to offend, I will listen. I will apologize. I will consider how I can do it differently. There’s a balance. There’s a balance of thinking of the audience, but then also considering, “am I educated on what I’m talking about? Am I, like, uplifting a community? Am I just doubling down on stereotypes that already exist?” ‘Cause if you’re just doing that, that’s just like a white person just saying the n word as a punchline. Sometimes people will do shit like that where they’re like, ‘oh, I didn’t say, you know, the character in my joke said the n word, not me.’ But it’s like, you wrote the joke. You’re just being racist and using humor as a way of disguising, hiding behind that. So for me, I try to be intentional. Whether it’s how I talk about different subjects in different communities, or the kinds of comedians that I bring into my shows. I don’t want someone that’s just gonna be misogynistic or homophobic, and they’re hiding it behind the “well, I’m black so I can’t be messed up.” Yes you can. ‘Cause there are Black queer people, there are Black women. You have to be considerate of all people.
I mean, speaking of your show, let’s talk about it! You host a Black comedy show in New York City: Reverse Racism. It’s a comedy show, for Black people, by Black people, talking ‘bout Black people shit, at white people’s expense.
I truly think it’s brilliant and the place that it cultivates. How did that idea come to fruition? Where do you want that to go?
It’s funny because, I was growing my audience online throughout quarantine. And then [in] 2021 when I was getting back into performing live, I was starting to see I have an audience from TikTok and Instagram so they’re coming to my shows. So I was like, “alright, I want to put on my own show.” Because I–I’m a control freak and I hate doing other people’s things! I just wanna be able to do what I want to do. I also want to just be able to talk about all the shit that I want to talk about and have the right community come out for that. And I think the name came before even the idea of what the show was gonna be.
Reverse Racism. [laughter]
[Laughter] Yeah. I was like, I wanna have a comedy show. Reverse Racism is the name! I’m very big on names. When the name hits me, I’m like, okay, now I have to do it! Even with the music video, “Nightmare on Coon Street,” now we have to do the video. Supernigga, I need to do it, ’cause of the name! So with Reverse Racism, it was the same thing. I got a venue to let me do the show there. And the idea, at first, was I’m just gonna put on comedians that I know, that I like. They’ll do their jokes and I’ll do my material that’s about race. But at first it wasn’t an all Black lineup, there wasn’t the game show aspect. It was just a show and I would be, like, the “bully” getting on white people.
I did it for a year, then I brought on a producer, uh, who’s a white guy, Sam Blumenfeld. At first we were bouncing ideas. We were considering changing the name and I was like, “nah it’s gotta be Reverse Racism.” That’s very much in line with me and the kind of humor–
[Laughter] That’s who I am! This is me!
I am Reverse Racist! [Laughter]
This is my identity!
We not ‘bout to make him all palatable! We gon’ keep our foot on they necks!
Yooo, that is crazy [laughter]. I respect it so much!
Look the podcast was called Caucasian Tears, the comedy show is Reverse Racism. Everything we gonna keep addressing head on! So we started talking and we were like we should keep the line up as Black as possible. I think there’s usually that idea of, oh, well if you want to sell out a show, you gotta have as diverse of an audience and people with big names. And then we got to a point where we were like, no, we’re gonna see how far can we go without having any white people on the lineup and keep it only Black people. And once we started doing that, we were like, oh, it’s actually better. The audience is getting blacker to the point where every time we do the show, there’s less white people, there’s more Black comedians coming on. When I started seeing the community building around it, I was like this is important. This means something not just to me, but to the audience, to the performers. We don’t usually have shows and nice venues where it’s a dope setup, and a packed out audience, and it’s just all Black people and we can talk about exactly what we want to talk about. To have a show where they don’t have to translate their jokes for a white audience or tone it down. This audience is gonna get all the references and it’s beautiful. So the more we started seeing that, the more I was like, oh okay. We’re not putting any white people on this stage ever! [laughter] Like the only time a white person will be on this stage is when you’re getting roasted or bullied, and that’s how the game show aspect started coming up.
The game show is: Black people always win regardless. All the questions are rigged for the white contestants to look racist or lose. And that just came out of the idea of, you know, this is a safe space for Black people to feel empowered and elevated. We’re competing outside of this room so much.
Yeah, it’s true.
So it’s like, this is a space where you can do the bare minimum in this game show and you just gon’ win, and these white people gon’ suffer, gotta question everything they say! This is what it feels like for us in everyday life!
[Laughter] We’re gonna make reverse racism a REALITY. For these 2 hours! Cause you start every show like, “you’re not in Americ–” you say something?
Yeah, you are no longer in the United States of America. You in the United States of Niggas. You have NO rights! [laughter]. For any white person here, you are here to suffer!
And they still come!
And that’s the weird thing sometimes! Like some white people it’s almost like they’re, what is it, masochist? Like, “oh yeah, come on, beat me up. Let me purge my white guilt and everything.” But I try to make people realize that okay, supporting the Black art and laughing at the jokes is cool, but the work doesn’t stop there.
Current and Future Projects
So speaking of names, you brought up a whole bunch of names! Segregated Summer, Reverse Racism, Caucasian Tears, Supernigga. How long you been working on Supernigga?
Supernigga is a blaxploitation and superhero inspired romantic comedy. Basically like a Black Lois Lane origin story. I started writing it in 2020, but the original seed is all the way back to 2013. I always had the idea of writing like a love story with a superhero and a woman who knows the true identity of the superhero, but doesn’t know that he’s the superhero, yet loves the real guy and hates the superhero.
In one of my notebooks from college, I wrote “one of my professors just told us in the lecture if we wanna have a career in this industry, we need to write a superhero story.” Which I didn’t wanna do at the time. And this is when all the Marvel movies were coming out, and I love those movies, but I don’t wanna write them. But I had been watching a bunch and I’m noticing that there’s always a white woman in distress who loves the superhero, but doesn’t know that the guy she works with is the superhero. And we don’t know anything about her story other than she needs to be saved. I wanna see a love story from that perspective, not the superhero’s perspective. I want to see her perspective on that. And so that’s when I started switching [a previous script] to a Black love story. I started writing and developing it, and it was the first thing where I just was so consumed. At first it was just called Lois, ’cause I was like, Lois Lane and Clark Kent. Then I was like, nah, her name gonna be Sugar and he’s Daddy. And then it became Supernigga.
So you have a full script? Ready to go?
Yeah, I’m probably on the sixth draft, seventh draft now! We did the short film in 2021 because I was like, I have a script, but you know how hard it is to get someone to read 100 pages?! So I was like, let me make a short film so I can make something that people can actually see. Made the short film, raised the money off of Kickstarter with the help of the TikTok audience, and then from there started sending that around. And now we’re at the point where–
I was just about to ask where you at now?!
Well basically, we got the proof of concept. We have a lot of interest from studios and producers. So we’re just getting through pitching it around. And it’s looking like we should hopefully be making the movie next year!
Well, I, we, us look forward to it! I’m ready to see Supernigga. People gotta go to a Reverse Racism show. Watch “You A Coon” video. Listen to Segregated Summer. This is great. I’m happy for you, I’m proud of you. I can’t wait!
Um, and thank you so much for coming Daddy…
…hey, you said it. [laughter] You welcome!
[Laughter] And that’s how Imma end it!
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