The Ladies Of All Def: Meet Chicago’s Just Nesh

HBO’s All Def Comedy has arrived. The show premiered Dec. 1, bringing audiences fresh new faces in the world of comedy. 

The reboot of Def Comedy Jam, which set in motion the careers of numerous well-known comics, is also set to launch the careers of a few dynamic female comedians. And, one of those comics is Chicago’s Taneshia Rice.

Kicking off our introduction to the ladies of All Def Comedy, ESSENCE hopped on the phone with Rice, known to many as Just Nesh, and spoke to her about life before comedy, landing a spot on All Def, and common misconceptions about comedians. Here’s what we learned about the rising comic:

Rice worked as a social worker prior to becoming a comedian. The comic worked at the Department of Children and Family Services, but it wasn’t quite the job she’d hoped it be. “I couldn’t wait to get up out of there,” she said. “I ended up quitting my job. I was like three years into stand-up, and I quit. I was ready to go anyway, so I probably would have quit whether I was doing comedy or not. But … I stepped out, moved back in with my mom, and I was able to kind of work, kind of get out there every night and move around, so it was working out great.”

The comedian scene gets real about Chicago’s comedy scene. Comics in the Windy City are able to do two to three rooms a night, but Rice admits it can be a bit segregated. “Chicago has a really dope comedy scene. We have a lot of comedy here,” she said. “But, it’s segregated. Our comedy scene is segregated. We have North Side, which is the white rooms, South Side you see all the black rooms. People try to keep saying it’s not, but it’s very segregated. Still. you can go up north and do two or three mics, then you can come out south and do two or three mics. It’s a lot of comedy. We have a lot of great rooms, a lot of great comedians.”

Rice looks up to a number of comics, including DeRay Davis and Dick Gregory, but credits Chicago’s B. Cole for helping her get her start.He helped me out a lot when I first started … Started hosting. He kind of taught me how to host, and I get a lot of hosting gigs, so I appreciate him for that.”

The funny-woman reveals that one of the most common misconceptions about comedians is that they’re never serious. “We are very serious when we’re not on stage. I cut it off. I think people don’t realize. They want you to be on all the time. It’s like, no, I’m quiet, I just want to sit here. You know, I’m off the clock. I’m not telling you a joke.I’m very quiet when I’m not on stage, and people are like, oh man, you’re quiet, or you act so different. No, I’m just sitting down, and you know, I don’t want to joke 24-7, and they think you do.”

Her advice for women hoping to enter comedy? “Just to stay on stage as much as you can. Keep going, please don’t be discouraged because these men will try you. You can not let them intimidate you or let them feel like you’re less than because you’re a female in comedy. They hate when you’re funny, too. Boys do not like when the girl is funny, so be your best.”

Catch Just Nesh on All Def Comedy Friday, Dec. 8 at 10p.m. ET.