Tiffany Haddish clarifies Cosby joke: ‘I don’t agree… but I’m not afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’

I guess it didn’t take long for the backlash against Tiffany Haddish, the breakout star on the hilarious comedy Girl’s Trip, to start. To be clear, I think Tiffany’s comments about Bill Cosby, which we’ll get to in a moment, were offensive and tone deaf. She shouldn’t have said this, she should have known better, and she was unapologetic about it afterwards.

Last week we covered Tiffany’s inspiring life story, which involves spending time in foster care after raising her siblings, finding her calling as a comedian in her teens, and ending up homeless for a while. Tiffany’s popularity was bolstered by an incredibly entertaining story she told on Kimmel about taking Will and Jada Smith on a swamp tour she bought on Groupon. (Jada didn’t even know what Groupon was and thought Tiffany had rented a boat you take a “group on.” The two superstars ended up interacting with the public all day for the first time in years.) Tiffany has excellent comedic timing, she’s funny and as Lainey pointed out she told the story without making Will or Jada seem too out of touch. You could tell she had affection for them and wasn’t telling the joke at their expense.

Anyway, in an interview with The LA Times, Tiffany made some wildly inappropriate comments about working with Bill Cosby. She’s also worked as standup comedian for years, so while this joke may fly in front of a live drunk audience, it’s not the type of thing you should say in an interview. Here’s what she said:

Who are your comedic inspirations?
Definitely Richard Pryor. Bill Cosby — I still want to work with Bill Cosby, I don’t care, I’ll drink the juice. I’ll drink the juice. I’ll take a nap. I don’t give a damn. [laughs] But seriously, I would love for him to play my grandfather in something.

[From LA Times]

She could have said that she grew up with Cosby and that he was an inspiration to her then but she’s learned since that he’s a serial rapist. She could have that things have changed since she watched him on the Cosby show and left it at that. Instead she added that she wanted to work with him and joked that she would let him drug her. That wasn’t even the question. Then, when people pointed out to her how offensive this is, Tiffany kind of doubled down and got defensive:

On Thursday, Haddish attempted to clarify those comments while speaking on a panel at the Television Critics Assn.’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills.

“What I said was a joke,” she said, noting that when you’re expected to be funny in promotional interviews, there are risks. “You’re going to say some bad jokes.”

Haddish said her point had been that “I’m not afraid to do anything. I’m not afraid of any kind of job. I’m not afraid to play any kind of girl as long as it doesn’t compromise my morals….

“I’ve been through things. I’ve been victimized,” she added. “I don’t agree with what he did or anything, but, at the end of the day, I’m not afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. That’s what I was trying to say, and I was trying to do it in a humorous way.”

[From LA Times]

This isn’t an adequate explanation and it’s dismissive of rape victims, even if she is one, which she hints at but doesn’t state outright. This is the flip side of being someone who struggled to get to the level of success that Tiffany reached seemingly in the last two weeks – she’s still acting and talking like someone whom the press isn’t paying attention to. She doesn’t have people around her to tell her that she immediately should have apologized. I would say that a seasoned actress/comedian wouldn’t have doubled down like this, but look at all the stupid and offensive sh-t that Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer have said. They’ve been offensive in interviews, in their books and on their social media and almost always get passes. This is obnoxious and she shouldn’t have said it and she should have apologized properly. I just hope the standards are not different for Tiffany Haddish than they are for other women comics and actresses.




Photos credit: WENN, Backgrid, Pacific Coast News, Getty

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48 Responses to “Tiffany Haddish clarifies Cosby joke: ‘I don’t agree… but I’m not afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’”

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  1. HK9 says:

    Sigh…**shakes head-facepalm**

    • Char says:

      How dare you, Tiffany, we were all rooting for you.

    • GiBee says:

      OMG! She’s soooooo edgy! We got a badass over here.

      Saw this one coming based on, oh, everything she’s ever said, but FFS Tiffany. If you wanna be a breakout star, you need to hide how ignorant you are, just for a bit.

      • Onemoretime says:

        She’s been around forever so no on the breakout & yes it was bad taste but she is a comedian

    • Nicole says:

      She already cancelled herself. Shame

  2. velourazure says:

    Attention actors: You only get one time in your career to be a “break out star”. You might not want to talk about working with serial psychopathic rapists while it’s happening.

  3. Mia4s says:

    Nope sorry, that was seriously disgusting. She’s on probation for me at best, along with Schumer. I gave up on Lena a long time ago.

    Think I’ll wait for Netflix to see her movie.

  4. Enough Already says:

    This wasn’t tone deaf, she meant what she said. Disgusting. This woman has a teflon heart. Most comedians really are quite damaged actually.

  5. Loopy says:

    I did say to my friend the other day ,she might need some media training, in this day and age, you simply need to watch what you say in public. Even though I hate when celebs are too media trained to the point you cant even gage their real personalities i.e Beyoncé,Cheryl Cole..she however he may need to pull it back a bit.

    • GiBee says:

      “Media training”? I’ve somehow managed to go through my entire life without media training, never joking about sexual assault.

      Anna Faris dropped some shit like this before she got with Chris Pratt, and I’ve never forgotten it. Surprisingly enough, most people have long memories when it come to “haha, it would be funny if this famous rapist raped me” jokes.

      • Loopy says:

        But I bet you are not in the spotlight, what she said was crass and deeply offensive I agree, from my point of you is that most celebs do get media training to avoid situations like this, and ‘normal’ people do say things in private that they would not say in front of colleagues,other friends or family. It does happen.

  6. KBeth says:

    Stupid…….really, really stupid.

  7. dodgy says:

    To be fair, Haddish’s background has been wild. To read it is to be triggered (especially if you’ve been sexually molested), because she was molested from foster care all the way up to her first husband. For her, Cosby’s actions are just a Tuesday morning.

    I think she needs therapy – as well as media training, tbh.

    • frisbee says:

      Yeah, I don’t agree with a word she said but I also saw a lot of self-defensive bravado in it.

    • Sixer says:

      That’s awfully sad. I hear you on the bravado thing, frisbee.

    • Jay (the Canadian one) says:

      Exactly. Rather than jumping on her for “joking” she’d be the victim of a serial rapist, how about a little empathy for the life she’s led that got her to the place she could think that way?

      The only other person I know who ever made a “joke” anything like that had been molested by so many different people growing up, the concept had been normalized in her mind. It wasn’t disrespect to the victims; she was just so used to being the victim it was no big deal to her anymore. (Something along the lines of her thinking that rape is inevitable, so she could at least step up the quality of her rapist by having it be someone famous.)

      For that kind of person you don’t shun them, you tell them they deserve better.

      • Jag says:

        Thank y’all for the different perspective. I still won’t support her, but perhaps I understand her a little bit better now.

  8. Jeesie says:

    I’m surprised the fact that her describing herself driving around while high as a kite in her Will and Jada story didn’t even seem to be noticed by most people. That to me is an instant cancellation. There are few things more reckless and selfish than getting behind the wheel of a car while you’re under the influence, and there’s zero excuse for it in this day and age. Everyone knows how incredibly dangerous it is.

    This Cosby mess just confirms to me that while she might be talented and funny, she’s also a really terrible person. I don’t particularly care if she doesn’t get a pass. She shouldn’t.

    It’s like the Chris Brown/Nate Parker thing. They’ve been treated exactly how someone who’s done what they’ve done should be treated. Penn, Gibson, Affleck and co. should also be treated this way. The answer to the current disparity in reactions and consequences for hideous behaviour from celebrities isn’t to keep the doors open to vile POC celebrities, it’s to slam the doors open to vile white celebrities shut. Dunham and Schumer should have been cancelled a long time ago.

    • Leskat says:

      I noticed that too about her high as a kite comment. I was wondering if I was the only one who was kind of shaking my head at driving while high as some kind of wacky plot point in her story.
      As soon as I saw her interview on Kimmel and how well it went and how everyone was gushing over her, I knew she was going to step in it for something. I didn’t know she was going to pick Bill Cosby as her figurative shit of choice and I didn’t think she’d do it quite so soon. I agree that even joking about something as painful as all of Cosby’s victims went through puts her squarely in the camp of terrible people, swift apology or not.

  9. BeefJerky says:

    I’m so tired of seeing on this site, “this is what she should have said.” No. She said what she wanted to say, and who cares if you’re up in arms about it. Everyone here hating on her, or even mildly chiding her is contributing to the Word Police culture.

    • Meh says:

      I gotta say, I do agree with you

    • CatherinetheGoodEnough says:

      I have to agree as well. I don’t personally like or agree with what she said, but I’ll go to my grave defending her right to say it, and to say it unapologetically if that’s really the message she wants to send. She will have to deal with the consequences, that’s on her, but the consequences shouldn’t include someone else writing a script for her to follow.

      • velourazure says:

        She tried to make light of being drugged and raped by Bill Cosby! No one is saying anything about limiting free speech. However, when one exercises their freedom to say something that abjectly stupid, one should expect ridicule.

      • CatherinetheGoodEnough says:

        Yep! I totally agree! I’m not defending what she said, I’m just defending her right to say it and arguing against the hegemony of “she should have said”. She should have the right to say what she said and she should absolutely bear the ridicule therein. That’s (ideally) how people learn and evolve.

    • Lexie says:

      Words have meaning. She said exactly what she wanted and that’s her right, just as its everyone else’s right to take issue with what she said if it was distasteful. Its a double-edged sword. Pointing out what she could have said (especially since she’s talking about Bill Serial Rapist Cosby) is natural and reasonable.

      And since she gave these interviews while promoting a movie, she’s effectively working for a company. Her words and how she comes across on these shows contributes to the success or failure of the product. Making light of a rapist when trying to sell a movie is not a good move, no matter how you phrase it.

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      @BeefJerky: And you’re doing the same thing you claim is some type of cultural ‘problem’ by chiding people for their responses to what she said. Sure, it’s what she wanted to say and she has the right to say it without being thrown in jail or something, but it’s not all about her or any one person. Don’t we tend to teach children at an early age that just because they want something doesn’t mean it’s automatically right and above criticism? Being tired of “Word policing” (in this case “anytime anyone is critical of a message that anyone puts out about sexual assault or other serious issues that effect some groups more than others”) is a first world ‘problem’ that isn’t even much of an actual problem.
      All that said, I don’t automatically think her career should be over or that she should be permanently trashed for it. It’s a problematic comment and a bleak look at her life and our society.

  10. Eveil says:

    I’m just going to chalk this one up to inexperience and let it go. Everyone deserves one freebie.

    • MandyPurr says:

      Agreed! It was tone deaf but she was obviously trying to make a sick joke. Not everything needs to be cried about. I’m the most liberal snowflake and even I’m not triggered by every. damn. thing.

  11. annier says:

    amy and dunham are pretty widely disliked, so…. yeah, i don’t know. if this is who haddish is i don’t see her making it very far.

  12. QueenB says:

    Wow! Usually you hear the “But Woody Allen is a great artist we should seperat the art and the artist” or “Or Cosby was treated unfairly” or something like that. But she really just says “I’d totally take the pills”. Holy crap thats bad.

    • Wilma says:

      In a way it makes me feel sad, because she must be a very damaged person. Her apology is more about her not being afraid of molesters than about knowing that the molester is the one at fault.

      • ravynrobyn says:

        Ouch, you make a great point about her not realizing the molester is the one at fault; yes, she is pretty messed up. At this point I’ll wait and see…

    • detritus says:

      Yeah its not good at all. I get the feeling from this quote she is still close or has contact with some of her abusers.
      I don’t really think this isn’t a healthy reaction from someone who’s dealt with trauma. This is a hide it under the rug reaction.

  13. Patty says:

    It was a joke. Every comedian on the planet has at some point made a distasteful joke; or some point joked about something most “regular” people wouldn’t. You know what else people joke about:
    Traumatic Events
    Charlie Sheen
    Woody Allen
    The KKK

    The list goes on and on and on……….I don’t know, I just don’t see the need to get worked up over this. She wasn’t accusing the victims of lying, she wasn’t mocking the victims, she was joking about how she still wanted to work with Cosby…and it was just that, a joke. Jeez.

    • Skylark says:

      Exactly. Had she said something along the lines of ‘Oh Cosby’s so talented and I really admire him…’, then yes, that would have failed the funny test but she very clearly didn’t say anything of the sort.

      Storm in a teacup.

      • Jeesie says:

        He’s not the target of the joke.

        Yes, she acknowledges that he drugs women, but he also acknowledged that and thinks it’s fine. His argument has always been that the women he raped knew what he was about and wanted to be there. And she’s saying that she would knowingly choose to be there. This ‘joke’ is supporting the idea that his victims willingly chose to let themselves be drugged and raped because they wanted to be around Cosby.

        It’s pretty much the most pro-Cosby thing you could say.

    • krAkken says:

      Thank you!!
      Jump off the woman.
      If a joke lands with a thud. Don’t laugh.
      But calling for the cancelation of the woman’s career over it is just misogynist bullshit.

    • Meredith says:

      But here’s the difference between your list of things (with the exceptions of Charlie Sheen and Woody Allen) and Cosby/rape: most people know those things are bad. Hitler, diseases, traumatic events, those are all bad. A lot of people don’t think rape is bad. Making a comment about willingly being drugged by a known serial rapist is a crappy and extremely stupid thing to say. There are ways to make a rape joke (like making the rapist the target of your joke), but this isn’t it.

      • Skylark says:

        But he is the target of the joke, albeit in a subtle way:

        “I’ll drink the juice. I’ll drink the juice. I’ll take a nap…” is categorically and knowingly calling Cosby out for his MO and the POS he is. And her subsequent statement unequivocally qualifies this.

        On a separate note, I really hate the way people are built up one minute – sometimes to almost gushing sainthood status – and then shat on from a po-faced (and, more often than not, judgemental and humourless) height for the ‘crime’ of doing or saying something that renders them as nothing other than normal and fallibly human.

      • LooseSeal says:

        @Skylark I agree with you. Cosby is the butt of that joke. It’s a dark joke for sure, but she’s not punching down. She’s calling him a rapist. I’m a survivor of a great deal of sexual violence myself and amongst my closest friends I joke like this. If I was a professional stand up I might say it publicly and stick my foot in it. And sure everyone here can call me “damaged” or “troubled” or whatever but honestly I’m pretty damn proud of myself and what I’ve survived. Dark humor has helped that healing process a great deal. I guess walk a mile before you condescend to assess how “damaged” someone is based on one dark joke. Although I would be pissed with her if she used her success to give that rapist a career boost.

      • Skylark says:

        @LooseSeal – I like my humour dark and appreciate it particularly when it comes from those who’ve lived and earned and own the right to tell it like it darkly is.

        I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through and hope you continue to thrive. <3

  14. Lana 234 says:

    Oh shit Tiffany Hadish you really stepped in it. Cosby is a serial rapist and you still want to work with him. I don’t buy that it was a bad joke she is 37 she should know better.

  15. Bella bella says:

    Has anyone seen Dave Chapelle’s new stand-up shows shot especially for Netflix (I believe)? At least that’s where you can see them. He does a long bit about Cosby that both acknowledges he’s a rapist but also talks about what a hero he was to black comedians, and how complicated and difficult it is to the community now. It was an honest and genuine and actually funny at times bit. I think it’s pretty hard for many black comedians to articulate the Cosby ethical, moral, hero confusion they feel. Chapelle is a genius and even he came close to the edge of a comfort zone. I give Tiffanny Haddish a pass on this one.

    • CatherinetheGoodEnough says:

      I am white, and I am not a survivor of sexual violence, so I will very respectfully defer to others’ more pertinent opinions on this topic. But I will say that from my lower middle class 1980s living room, I SO MUCH wanted to be a member of the TV Cosby family. I wanted that understanding no-nonsense mom and that hilarious dad and those super-cool fashion-conscious siblings and that financial safety net; none of which I had. In retrospect I was SO comparatively privileged just by being white, and I am aware of that. But I guess I’m just saying that I understand the hold that Bill Cosby in his non-threatening non-sexual dad mode still has on kids from that era. And I can imagine the (again, non-sexual, just fantasy dad-like) allure he must have held for kids from more chaotic backgrounds than mine, particularly kids of color who didn’t have many mainstream celebrity role models at the time. I also, and equally, hope Bill Cosby rots in prison for the atrocities he’s committed, because they are unforgivable. But it’s hard to hold those two opposing viewpoints in one’s brain, and I really don’t blame Tiffany Haddish, after all the hardships she’s endured, for holding on to the earlier fantasy.

      • Bella bella says:

        And for black comedians, he was even more of a role model. He was the first to be hugely successful. His approval meant everything. And he also gave back quite a bit to the community. If you have a chance, you should watch the Chapelle specials. One, he is extremely funny. But two, he takes on thorny moral and ethical issues as he always has. Cosby is one of them.

        I really hope people give Tiffany Haddish a chance.

      • nicegirl says:

        love your screen name, Catherine!

  16. monette says:

    Great point of view Catherine!

  17. CK3 says:

    I didn’t find the joke funny, but she’s not the first (and won’t be the last) to tell an off color Cosby Joke. So I’m a little bit perplexed at the backlash that tends to be selective. I remember when people were dragging Eddie Murphy for not going on the SNL anniversary and telling a Cosby joke. I also don’t remember as much backlash when Tina Fey/Amy Poehler told Cosby jokes during their GG hosting gigs.