Meet Hoodo Hersi: Somali Canadian Stand Up ComedianWritten by Making Headlines
Toronto-based Somali Canadian comedian Hoodo Hersi was recently featured on The Comedy Network's Homegrown Comics. She is also the subject of a recent documentary by TVO called "Stand Up Toronto."
A Grade 4 French Immersion teacher by day, Hoodo has performed her comedy across Canada and the US. She received a scholarship to study improv at Second City. She recently opened for Hasan Minhaj when he came to Toronto and she will be the host of TedxToronto this October.
In an interview with "She Does The City", Hoodo discusses her experience in comedy.
She Does The City: When did you realize you wanted to do stand-up comedy?
Hoodo Hersi: Probably in my early teens. I was watching Chappelle’s Show and thought, wow – people do this for a living? That’s really cool.
She Does The City: Would you practice in front of family?
Hoodo Hersi: No, because it’s almost seen as an arrogant thing to be like, “I’m going to do comedy!” That whole “I’m funny and I want other people to know about it.” So what I would do was practice into a hairbrush in my room. Then I would have friends tell me, “Hoodo, you’re so funny. You should do your own show or something.”
She Does The City: When was your first gig?
Hoodo Hersi: The summer I turned eighteen before my first year of university, I went to Yuk Yuks in Ottawa and booked the open mic there. I figured if I bombed, then it’s fine, because no one knows who I am and that’s it. I can just go back to Toronto and it will be like it never happened. I got enough laughs, so I decided to keep going with it.
She Does The City: How has your material evolved since you started?
Hoodo Hersi: Before I was doing what I thought people wanted someone like me to talk about. I had this joke – “My dad finally let me leave the house,” and people would laugh at that, like “Oh, a Muslim woman that’s oppressed. We get the link. It’s funny.” But it was very cheap and lazy and also not applicable to me! Now I don’t really speak from that place because that’s not my life. It’s not authentic. Now I say the things I really want to say.
She Does The City: Have you dealt with racist hecklers during a set?
Hoodo Hersi: I was doing a show and this guy walked in with a shirt that said, “I heart my foreskin.” It was Ramadan and I was performing. He assumed I was fasting then said something along the lines of “Ramadan is horrible.” The producer was nice enough to remove him. If it were to happen now, I think I have more tools to deal with it.
Hoodo is featured in the TVO documentary "Stand Up Toronto" about racialized stand up comedians. Check out the documentary online here.
Check out some of Hoodo's comedic writing:
Why as a Black Muslim Woman I Feel I Can’t Be a Feminist (VICE Canada)
Trudeau Loses Only Black Friend (The Beaverton)
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