In the five years since I last spoke to Tiffany Haddish (ahead of the release of Keanu), her life has changed. She’s won a Grammy and an Emmy, gone from Girls Trip to playing the iconic Florence Griffith Joyner in a biopic that she’s producing, alongside a documentary and podcast on the fastest women of all time. Somehow, Haddish also found the time to host another TV show, TBS’ Friday Night Vibes, which premieres on Friday, June 18 at 7:30 p.m. EST/PST.
Friday Night Vibes finds Haddish (and her co-host Deon Cole) setting the mood for an amazing night of movie watching—the premiere Friday Night Vibes is a Michael B. Jordan double feature: Creed and Creed II. They will have celebrity guests—the first episode alone features Snoop Dogg and Tina Knowles Lawson—joining to talk about any and everything; with Juneteenth and Father’s Day touching down this weekend, expect everything from Lawson discussing Texas’ Juneteenth roots, Snoop giving you the jewels on maintaining a successful marriage, and more. “It’s like you’re in a beauty salon-slash-barber shop-slash-movie theater-slash-good time party, like a reunion of some sort,” Haddish told Complex. “It’s good times.”
During that conversation, Haddish breaks down the variety show nature of Friday Night Vibes, how she’s been having fun with movies since she was a child, and she speaks candidly about (re)discovering the impact Flo-Jo has had on her life.
It’s not about me, but it’s been a minute since we’ve spoken, and it’s crazy looking at your career in the last five years, like, “Damn she’s got the Emmy now, she’s got a Grammy now, she’s hosting shows.” When did you get bit by the TV show hosting bug? Because you’re already doing Kids Say the Darndest Things.
I enjoy being able to have a platform where I can allow others to shine. Give others a voice. I just feel like I always wanted that for myself. I always wished somebody would give me a chance to shine, give me a voice, allow me to show what I could do. And now that I’m able to do that, it’s very fulfilling. It feels really good.
2020 affected the way a lot of people could work. Does that come into play as well? How to stay working, how to stay moving as times are changing?
No, no. Here’s what I know. OK? If I don’t know nothing, I’m always going to work. I’m always going to figure something out. I started in stand-up comedy, I’ll probably end in stand-up comedy, whatever happens in the middle, fantastic. Doing stand-up is like my medicine, it’s my everything, and I would love to be able to give a voice to other stand-up comedians who are out there doing their thing, and musical acts. In my heart, I think I’m a musician. I’m very musically inclined. I think so. Maybe I’m not. Maybe I am.
If you were to describe what a Tiffany Haddish musical experience would be, what influences are you pulling from?
I’m drawing from a little bit of, there’s a little Billie Holiday. There’s some Lil Kim in there. There’s some Mariah Carey in there. We got some Mary J up in there. Then we got a little Queen Latifah up in there. We going to put some Michael Jackson—oh, it’s going to be entertaining. We’re going to put some Beyoncé, because it’s going to be spiritual. You’re going to feel it in your soul. You’re going to feel that in your soul. And then we’re going to put a little Shirley Temple because it’s going to be cute. We’re going to take you to the good ship lollipop, OK?
Nah that makes a lot of sense. [Laughs] Friday Night Vibes is presented as “Tiffany Haddish and movies,” but it sounds like it’s Tiffany Haddish, movies, music. It feels like it’s a big variety show.
It is. It is. It’s a variety show in the middle of a really great movie. I think of it like this: Remember back in the day, when we used to go to the movies? Especially in the hood? It’s a pretty good movie and people be talking to the screen.
When you come to my house to watch a movie, we’ll be talking, pause the movie, talk about this, talk about that. Maybe a song might come on, somebody might play some music like, “Oh, this reminds me of this dah, dah, dah.” And we laughing about that. We laugh about this and like, “OK, you want something to eat?” “Yeah, sure.” And you’re like, “You want something to drink?” “Yeah.” “OK. Cool.” Get the drinks everything, push play back on the movie, right?
Then be watching it, then be like pause, “I would never do that in a relationship, would you?” “I would never do that either! That is crazy!” It’s like you’re in a beauty salon-slash-barber shop-slash-movie theater-slash-good time party, like a reunion of some sort. It’s good times and that’s how I see this show.
I don’t know if you used to do this at movie night as a kid, but when I was a kid, there was this one home I stayed at and we would watch a movie and then after the movie we would have to do a scene and/or theme or dance something from the movie.
This was in the group home I was at. We didn’t have to do it. Let me be honest: It was something I came up with that I thought would be fun for us to do. And it didn’t last long. Let me be honest: The other kids were like, “Sit down.” But there were like four of us that were like, “That was so much fun. Let’s keep doing it all the time!”
It sounds like it was a game that you grew up and just kept playing. That’s a beautiful thing. What else can people expect to see on Friday Night Vibes?
We’ll have new musical acts, some old musical acts, people get to show what they do here and there. We’ll have my celebrity friends come on, we’ll talk about whatever movie’s playing. We got a DJ, there’s a bar, we got drinks, and it’s a live studio audience, so they can chime in, too. And it’ll be coming on in between the movie. So like, you know how you’d be watching a good movie and then a commercial come on, you’re like, “Damn I have to watch the commercial.” But now, ta-da! Friday Night Vibes will come on and we’ll be talking about the movie, we’ll have things related to it. Our first movies are Creed and Creed II, because I got an affinity for… is affinity the right word? [Ed note: It can be!] Maybe not, but I like Michael B. Jordan’s pecs. So I’m excited about those being up. I’m excited about that.
How did this opportunity come about? I know you’re producing, was it something you presented to TBS?
Yeah, so, I produce all kinds of stuff. Like I used to, in a group home, create little shows. I was talking with my friend about things that I like, things that I would like to do, stuff like talking about stuff from back in the day that I used to do. And then they were like, “Hey, would you want to host a show?” And I’m like, “It depends on what kind of show. It depends on what time it comes on. It depends on blah, blah, blah.” And then we put together this little concept and they were like, “Oh, TBS has these movies they’re trying to do.” I was like, let’s do it! Let’s do that! And then let me bring my people. Oh, and it’s for the culture?” And they’re like, “Yeah, for the culture.” They wanted me to use the word culture and I was like, “It’s Black, just keep it… Just come on.”
Right. “Black folks.” You can’t put vibes in the title and it not be Black folk. That’s just what it is.
Yeah, Black folks. We know what that is. I’m blatantly honest and maybe I’m not always politically correct, but I’m a human, I’m a regular person and some people try to treat me like I’m not, but I’m a regular person. And at the end of the day, I want to bring something I would want to watch.
It’s great to get work and do things that will keep you stable, but it is also great to say, “Hey, here’s my idea. I have the means to do it. And let’s have a ball doing the damn thing.”
Everybody I know that’s super-rich and that’s careers have lasted a long time, they work with their friends and they do things that make them feel good, that they enjoy. So that’s all I’m trying to do. So when people be talking that mess, I’ll be like, “But I’m working with my friends. I’m having fun. Some days I’m tired, but for the most part, I enjoy myself.” And I think that’s most important. And I’m creating jobs for people!
That’s a beautiful thing. Earlier you mentioned that you’re producing. What are your days like? If you’re working on this and…
Full. They’re full. They’re so full. Oh, they’re so full. I just want to curl up with my man.
I don’t know if I’m… I wanted to say thank you for bringing Flo-Jo, someone that I grew up watching on TV, to the screen. When I saw that news, I’m like…
Look here: It wasn’t supposed to come out when it did.
But you know what? I ain’t mad. I ain’t mad.
I like the idea that it’s not just you in the project, but it’s you in the project and a documentary and a podcast. How important is it for you to bring all of that to the table, to tell this one particular story?
It’s been a journey already. It’s a full-on transformation, and it’s not easy. Her journey wasn’t easy, but it was necessary. It inspired so, so many of us. When I was in high school, I’m in track and field, I made sure my nails were done, I had my hair… To me, that made me faster. I put a little liner, even though I looked like a raccoon after the race. Sweating everything.
I’ve gotten to know her husband [Al Joyner] over the years and been learning so much from him. He helped me. It was never my intention when I first met him. I gained all this weight when I tore my meniscus, right? And I saw him online with his athletes and talking about how he helped them rehabilitate. And I’m like, “I wonder,” ‘cause they was telling me I got to do surgery. That’s the only way it’s going to be fixed. And I’m like, “What did they do in Bible times? Man, what did they do in Bible times?” The doctor’s like, “Oh, they took a lot of anti-inflammatories and they prayed a lot.” I said, “Well, that’s what I’ll do. And I’ll figure it out.”
So I started doing the research, find him, like “maybe he can help me.” That man showed me the exercises that I needed to do, started working out with me and it changed my body gradually. And my knees started working really good. I started being able to run. And I was asking these questions. He would always be making reference before I even brought that up. He would be like, “man, you remind me of Flo when you do this, just like Flo. When you do that, that’s like Flo. You know, I didn’t realize y’all was from the same area.” I’m like, “Wow.” He’s like, “Well she doesn’t cuss as much as you cuss.” And I’m like, “Well, yeah, you know, it’s a new day. It’s a new day.”
So there’s not going to be a bunch of cusses written in there. We got to make sure of that.
No, I want to honor her. She’s so important to me, so tremendous in my existence, gave me so much motivation. Here’s something that’s super crazy: I was cleaning out my garage going through this box, and it’s things that I’ve been saying for years that I thought came from me. I find her video, her exercise video, in one of my old high school boxes.
I didn’t even realize, I forgot. I forgot that I had the video. I forgot that she made it. Like, I completely forgot. It was embedded in my heart though, in my soul, right? First of all, I found my VCR, too. Put it in the VCR, watching it and I am boo-hooing, because this woman subconsciously got into my heart. “Don’t ever give up. You have to believe in yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror.” There’s something about me looking at myself in the mirror and be like, “I approve of you. I love you. You can do this.” You know, this is something I’ve been doing for years and I’ve been doing it because she taught me how to do it back in 1995! I didn’t even realize. Then when I looked on the box and I saw Arsenio Hall’s name on it. Arsenio produced it!
I was like, are you freaking crazy? And he’s like one of my great friends. I call Arsenio and he starts telling me all these amazing stories. I talked to Al about it. Al was like, “Oh yeah, Arsenio was so cool.” I feel like this little sponge, that’s just soaking up all this information.
She comes to me and my dreams from time to time. Like, “Yo, I’m so proud of you, Tiff, I’m so proud.” And I’m like, maybe that’s my subconscious. That’s my crazy mind.
You know what it is? I think it’s you knowing the importance of the mission. Whether it’s subconscious or whether she’s speaking to you, letting you know that you’ve got to bring her through you.
And I’m going to bring it. I’m going to bring it.