Mieka Jay is a standup comedian and actress born who began her comedy career eight years ago at Tammi Macs KJLH one-minute mixer and has not looked back. The Los Angeles-based comedian is honest and relatable as she speaks on her blended family, growing up in the hood, and being kind of a first lady. She has shared the stage with many of today’s headline comedians and has been seen on TruTV, All Def Digital, and Fox Soul. She currently produces her backyard comedy show in Los Angeles and has opened for headliners nationwide.
I was first introduced to Mieka Jay at the Baltimore Comedy Factory, where she performed with fellow comedian Tacarra Williams. I found her hilariously relatable and loved her show. I also loved seeing two Black women collaborating. I began following her on her Instagram and enjoyed her posts, but I kept wondering what she meant by “kind of a first lady.” I could not tell, so I am happy to say we got to the bottom of things in this interview.
Fancy: How did you get your start in comedy?
Mieka: Well, for me, it wasn’t in front of people. It was more in front of my family, you know what I mean? So it was like having a family, being silly with them, and always being the person in front of my entire family, talking, acting a fool, and telling jokes. I grew up in a family where my grandfather was huge on comedy, and he was funny. Plus, my family also had a house where everyone came to and hung out at, and we would all be in the living room clowning all day. So that’s how that happened.
Fancy: Did you ever consider doing anything else outside of comedy?
Meika: Definitely acting, but when I was young, my mom would take me on auditions, but I was scared. Then I would get in front of a camera and freeze up. It was like I knew the lines, but when a camera would start rolling, it was like ugghhh… So she probably took me on maybe probably four auditions. After me freezing up four times, she was kind of like, that’s it. Then I also dance. Like, if it’s a party, I’m dancing. If nobody else at the party is dancing, I’m dancing. So I also danced. I really love that. So just any form of entertainment- I always felt like I should be a part of it, you know what I mean? Just this world, whatever that is. Yeah, I like this.
Fancy: It sounds like you’re a natural entertainer, even though you kind of had to step into it in some ways.
Mieka: Yeah, I had to figure it out and become comfortable with myself because that’s where it starts.
Fancy: So, what has life been like for you as a woman in the entertainment industry?
Mieka: For me, it’s been good. I haven’t really had too many problems with it. I know it is a male-dominated field. Like in stand-up, we sit in the green rooms with men, and they’re talking about everything, and you’re the woman in the room. So I think for me, it’s been okay. I just had to learn how to hold my own in that room. I’ve never had an issue with someone being completely disrespectful. You always have some man to try it, throw out a little sexual comment or something like that, but you just say something smart. Move on. So for me, overall, it’s been okay. I haven’t had any bad experiences with it.
But then, I think it’s also because since I’ve been performing on stage as a traveling comic, I’ve been married during that entire process, too, right? So I think that me being married and most people know that I am, I haven’t had anything crazy happen, you know what I mean? Like no offers where people are like, “You want to get on the show? Sleep with me”, because it’s like you already know that’s not happening, right? You know what I mean?
Fancy: That’s actually a good segue to my next question because I’m still trying to understand this “kind of a first lady” thing you talk about. Is your husband really a pastor?
Mieka: He is ordained. He preaches. He hasn’t really been on the pulpit preaching that much recently, and we don’t have our own church. But yes, he is a pastor.
Fancy: So, how do you manage those two worlds? I looked at some of your stand-up videos and noticed that in one of them, you use a few curse words. When I saw you in Baltimore, I noticed that it was only toward the end that you may have used a curse word or two. How do you manage that? Do you feel like anything is off-topic or anything you wouldn’t say?
Mieka: I mean, sometimes, if something is too crazy, I definitely run it by him. Like, “What do you think if I say this?” but the good thing about our relationship is that when we got married, he was not a pastor, and I was not a comic yet, right? But he’s always grown up in church. My husband is a faithful churchgoer, not just on Sundays. Every day he wakes up with his Bible in his hand. Nothing comes before that versus me. When he met me, it was like I loved God, knew God, but didn’t grow up in church, you know what I mean? I’m hood, you know, and he knows that about me. So when we got married, I already knew his love for God, and he already knew I was wretched, you know what I’m saying? So then, on that journey, he decided to accept his calling, and then I decided to be a comic.
And I think that’s the thing with marriage and relationships. You must learn how to work with your partner, you know what I mean? Because who they are with you at the start of the relationship is not who you may end up with. So we have conversations, like, if it’s some out of pocket, I’ll run it by him. But my comedy isn’t really, like, that vulgar anyway. It’s just me as a woman. There’s just so far I’m going to go. So typically, everything that I say, he’s pretty much good with it, and he rides with it. Initially, it was tricky for me, and it was more of me wanting to protect his image. I wasn’t concerned with me. It was more of like, if I’m up here saying jokes and I’m cursing, I don’t want people to then not take him seriously in his love for God, worship, and teachings, you know what I mean?
Then my husband kind of gave me the green light. He said, “Comedy is your gift, and preaching is mine. Who am I to tell you that you can’t utilize your gift? Because you’re trying to protect me.” So when I first started years ago in clubs, I would do a certain set, and then in church, I would do a certain set, and then I finally got comfortable enough to be able to intertwine it all. Because when I would do comedy shows, they’ll be rocking with me. Then as soon as I say, “I’m a first lady,” everybody tenses up. Now they’re like, “Oh, my God, is she funny? Should I laugh? Should I not?” I had to realize, no, that’s who I am. This is my husband. I am a first lady, but I’m still ratchet. I still like to twerk, and I do curse and drink. That’s just who I am. However, that doesn’t mean that he’s not a good person, he’s not a good pastor, and he doesn’t love God and the Word. He still does him. We have that separation, and it works. Our communication is great in that department. We accept each other.
Fancy: That’s really awesome that he didn’t deny your gift or your ability to use your gift, and you also accepted his. That’s a really beautiful thing for both of you. So what do your kids think of your jokes? I know sometimes you have material with them in it. How do they feel about it, and how old are they?
Mieka: I have two daughters that are 21, a son that is 19, and a ten-year-old son. It’s like a love-hate relationship, you know what I’m saying? People always wonder about that, but it’s like, I’m an adult, and I don’t curse around my mama. I still was raised with values and to practice respect when around adults. So it’s easy for me to convert and not curse, even though my natural self might be like, “I’m going to curse you out.” But when I’m around certain people, I know it’s just a respect level, right?
So when I take my son to shows, he’ll say, “Mom, go up, say a joke about me”, like he wants me to. Then when I say it, he’s hot. He’s like, “You were up there talking about me, and you said I’m not smart.” So it’s weird. Like, they like they love it. They like it, and I think they’re excited for me, but at the same time, sometimes they’re like, yeah… But then they know their mom, and I’m the same way. When at home, I’m that parent. If you don’t want to be embarrassed or you have something you don’t want somebody to learn, don’t bring them over because they goin’ get it. Laughs.
Fancy: Laughs. Yeah. Can you tell us about a time when a joke didn’t go over well?
Mieka: It’s a lot of moments of that, you know what I mean? Because I never got to the point where I completely bombed, to where people want to throw eggs and apples at me. But I think in comedy, you have those moments where even if some people are clapping, you feel like you bombed, right? So I’ll get off and feel that wasn’t good. It’s funny because, after the show, people still say, “Great job, you were so funny!” And in my mind, I’m thinking that was trash. However, I think it’s hard to narrow down one actual event because, for me, I have the bits that I do. But I always throw in something else. That’s how you grow a joke. You throw in something else to see how it works.
So when you throw in something that may have happened that day, or you heard on the news, that might not hit. Yeah, but that’s part of the journey of being comfortable with it, right? Early on, if I did a set, and it wasn’t like people really enjoyed it, you leave like, “I’m gonna quit. This ain’t what I’m supposed to do. I’m trash. Then eventually, you learn that no, it’s not. It’s just the journey of it. You got to be good when you get those laughs and okay when you don’t. And if the joke didn’t do well, what can you do to tweak it. I think that I don’t have a particular time because I’ve experienced that it’s just normal, you know what I mean?
Or it may be an off night where you still do the set, but the crowd is not really feeling it. Comedy is what’s funny to me may not be funny to you. So I don’t have one particular night where I was just like horrible and people booed me. I would probably cry, but you do have those moments. I think that’s the art of it is like when you’re saying a joke, and if that joke doesn’t work, you know they are a good artist because they still find a way to tweak it or curve it at that moment to get a laugh. Right? It might not be from the direction they were going, but now they created something else within. You know what I mean?
Fancy: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Is there a thought that you tell yourself to get into that moment or something? How do you do that? Do you have a special routine or anything before you go on stage?
Mieka Jay: So most of the time, I, like most comics, don’t have a long period, but you need at least five minutes to regroup and get yourself together. I always pray. Before I get on stage, I say a quick prayer. It’s not long and drawn out to where I’m jumping and “Hallelujah!” But it’s just like I always pray, like, “Lord, let this be a good show.” And I always pray that one opportunity turns into another opportunity. So that’s always just a prayer that I say for myself. I calm myself down, and then you go out there. But I don’t think I’ll ever stop getting nervous. It’s always just like you get these nerves, but I pray, and I kind of bring it down a little bit and then go out there. And once I hit the mic, it’s over. Once I say, like, my name, it all just flows. It’s crazy. I love it.
Catch Mieka Jay on tour with Tacarra. For tour updates, follow her on Instagram at @itsmiekajay.
Watch the full interview below.
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