HBO’s All Def Comedy continues to bring new female comedians to the stage, this time Milwaukee-raised comic Kelly Kellz.
The comedian spoke to ESSENCE about landing a spot on the Def Comedy Jam reboot, who’s reaction to the news left her in tears. “I started crying,” she said. “I’m talking about an ugly cry. I’m talking about The Color Purple at the end, when they let her kid come from Africa.”
Here’s everything you need to know about Kelly Kellz before she makes her All Def Comedy debut.
Kellz is a teacher turned comedian, who still keeps up with former students. “I’m a certified school teacher. K-12. I haven’t taught in two years because I’ve been a full-time comedian, but my students and their parents are well-connected with me through social media. So, I have some of my students in my inbox like, ‘Oh my god, Miss Davis, I saw you on YouTube.’ And I’m like, ‘Get off my damn channel.'”
The comedian wants to show everyone “how much talent Milwaukee has,” since it’s not really known for its comedy scene. Kellz describes Milwaukee as kind of DIY with many taking the initiative to create spaces for show. “Milwaukee didn’t really have a scene of comedy, but they had a few comedians that were willing to put on shows. We kinda pretty much just produced our own shows, and we all used each other. Or we used people from the Midwest.” That soon led to the comic doing shows in Chicago, but she says not matter where she goes she reps her city. “I want people to know I’m from Milwaukee. I want them to know, yes, I moved to New York because I kind of outgrew the scene. But once I blow up veryone’s gonna know how much talent Milwaukee has.”
Her beautician encouraged her to give comedy a shot. Kellyz took the stage for the very first time on Mother’s Day after her beautician encouraged her to try comedy. “My beautician at the time was a comedian,and she’s from Milwaukee. And, I was coming home, getting my hair done and she was telling me like, ‘Girl, I do comedy now.’ I’m like, ‘What? I thought you were just funny in the shop.’ She was like, ‘No, I do comedy. You should try it.’ I’m like, ‘Word.’ She’s like, ‘Yeah. Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day, I’ll give you five minutes.'” And, with her husband cheering her on, Kellz began her comedy career.
Kellz says the hardest part of being a comedian is being on the road without her daughter. “I’m a mother. Sometimes I travel, so I leave my daughter. But when I’m home, I’m truly an amazing mom. My daughter is extremely smart, she’s extremely well-rounded.”
Her advice to other comics? “There’s enough room for everyone to eat.” “Don’t get too greedy” she adds. “The whole, ‘Keeping your hand balled tight and you’re gonna just hold on to what you got.’ You’re trying to hold on to something that may be big to you, but it’s not the biggest thing coming your way. Your hand won’t be open to receive the other blessings. So, keep your hand open. There’s enough room for everyone to eat, all pitch in, throw something back in the hand, and we’ll be great. Let’s share this wealth. Let’s all push each other.”
Catch Kellz on a new episode of All Def Comedy Friday, Dec. 22 on HBO.