Life surely wasn’t an easy road for Tiffany Haddish before fame hit. There were potholes and deep, wide cracks along the way. The comedian recently opened up to online host and music industry veteran Kenny Burns about that rough period of her life when she was abused by her mother as a child.
Haddish’s mom survived a horrific car accident when the comedian was just 8 years old. It’s something she’s talked about in the past, namely in her memoir “The Last Black Unicorn.”
Haddish’s mom sustained a severe head injury in the crash and was left unable to talk, walk and handle basic functions. She became abusive after the accident, said Haddish, mainly due to frustration.
The Los Angeles native became emotional at the 14:31 mark of the interview when she recalled those days and gave details of the abuse.
“She used to knock me out, like, straight punch me, hit me, ’cause she couldn’t use her words,” Haddish described this week on the online video program “The Kenny Burns Show.” “Here you go from a woman who, like, owns two properties, has her own business, also a manager at the U.S. post office, has an extensive vernacular and has this car accident and she has to learn how to walk, talk, eat, everything. … Everything she had taught me at that point, I’m teaching her.”
“The frustration of that … She couldn’t think of the words … So she would just hit,” she continued. “I guess like maybe a football player or an abusive boyfriend. Like, you out talking this n—-a and he’s like, ‘F–k it, pow! That was my mom.”
Haddish said she learned a certain survival skill then that would help her many years later as a comedian.
“Oh, I’ll make her laugh,” Haddish said about the strategy she used. “If I dance a little bit, if I say something funny, if I write a joke and tell her I did this special for her, like maybe today will be the day that she won’t bust my nose.”
By five years after the accident, Haddish’s mother would be institutionalized for schizophrenia. Last December the comedian revealed she had just gotten her mom out of the institution as she discussed going through the process of forgiving her in an interview with “Hollywood Unlocked.” Haddish described finally getting the affection from her that she had always desired.
“I could have died right there,” Haddish said about that moment. “I was satisfied with everything right there, and she gave me the best hug. It was the hug I had been wanting since I was 7, 8 years old.”
The “Girl’s Trip” star talked about having to be placed in foster care, during her interview with Burns, away from her siblings. But her grandmother eventually got custody of them all.
When Haddish was a guest on David Letterman’s show “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” last year, she said she used to plead to live with her grandmother before her mother was institutionalized, but her request always landed on deaf ears.
“I used to be begging my mom if I could go live with my grandma, and my mom would [say], ‘She’s not your mama, I’m your mama,'” she recalled to Letterman. “I used to think she was demonized. I thought like maybe someone else jumped inside her body, like, ‘Where’s my mommy?’ She’s gone.”