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My Ode to Angela Nissel: Funny Lady Spotlight

As a budding female humorist, with a dream of going really far with this, I have to pay homage to those who came before me. I must give props to the ladies who crap on the premise that women aren’t funny unless we’re making fun of bad decisions we make involving men or our times of the month. NOT TRUE! Some of us our hilarious by just being us! And many ladies have proudly made millions laugh for years, and they are my sheroes for doing it.

This is why I’m starting a series on Awesomely Luvvie called “Funny Lady Spotlight” where I talk about different female humorists from the past and present who inspire me with their craft to make the world smile. I’ll be talking about my favorite witty, hilarious, funny writers, actors and standup comedians from time-to-time, and I’m excited to do so. This is long overdue.

This is my first one.

My Ode to Angela Nissel

Growing up, I thought I’d be a doctor. Then I went to college, got the first D of my academic career in Chemistry, bust out an epic *wall slide* and realized I don’t even like hospitals. I quit that dream then and there. Full stop. That was a WRAP. Then I thought I’d be a Psychologist. That’s what my college degree is in, actually. I just knew I’d go to grad school and get my Master’s or Ph.D in Counseling or Industrial Psychology. I JUST KNOWED IT.

I never considered comedy (or writing) as what I’d be doing for a living. But life got jokes and likes to play pranks. Here I am, today, actually considering pursuing this whole “writing to make people laugh” thing. And although I am nervous about it because I am finally admitting to myself that I want to do this FOR REAL, I am excited to see what’s to come.

The Broke Diaries by Angela NisselWhat played a part in me even considering humor writing is when I first read The Broke Diaries by Angela Nissel. This book is my favorite of all time (as I’ve mentioned more than a couple of times). I was reading it years back, while on the bus, and I bust out laughing at one point, forgetting where I was. I looked up and saw half the bus staring at me like I had two heads. I quieted down, kept reading, and covered my mouth so I wouldn’t do that again but it was hard.

After I finished the book, I started considering that maybe I too could do that. I’m goofy and usually have my friends cracking up, and I can write, so I wondered if it was possible for me to make random folks I didn’t know smile or laugh. Since then, Angela Nissel has been one of my heroes. And she had cemented herself in my head as my favorite author.

One day, I was watching one of my FAVORITE shows ever, Scrubs. There was a scene where one of the very minor characters, a security guard with a hook as a hand, started making out with someone and it looked like Angela. But I went “nahhh.” Then when the credits for the episode rolled, I saw her name listed. AS A PRODUCER.

Shut the front door! SHUT MY MOUTH WIDE OPEN! My favorite author ever is producing my favorite show ever??? FATE, I SEE YOU!!! So I went and got my Scrubs DVDs and watched the behind the scenes stuff (which I love to watch anyway. I’m one of those dorks who loves to see extra features). There was a part where all the producers were sitting around a table. Most were white men. There were a couple of black men. But there was only ONE woman at that table: Angela.

*clutches my chest*. ELIZABETH! I’m coming!

She was the only woman at that table (brown or otherwise), and I was like WOWWWW. As if she wasn’t already awesome enough. It was really inspiring to see her in that space, and it let me know that it wasn’t impossible for me to one day be at that kind of a table. In fact, I hadn’t even considered that as a possibility until I saw Angela there. Yes, it might be a dream deferred but I was prouder dinnamug! I was so excited and wanted to call someone but figured folks would just side-eye me because they wouldn’t get my excitement.

Angela Nissel

This was in the era when MySpace was big. Remember MySpace? Yeah, me neither. O__O

One day I searched her on there and found her (please believe that I’m way less of a stalker than I seem). I decided to write on her wall and told her I saw her tonguing down some random dude on an episode of Scrubs. A couple of weeks (or months) later, she wrote back to me. CHILE I ABOUT DAHD!!!

Yes, I took a screenshot of it. I am aware that I'm a dork.

I was SO EXCITED! I think I was even tempted to put it in my resume under the Achievement section. “Angela Nissel MySpaced me and I made her laugh.”

Now we’re Facebook friends (well we were. Now she’s not on it anymore. Sad face). She messaged me on there a couple of times before and I felt like I’m winning at something.

I hope to meet her one day. And when I do, I hope I don’t act too much like a groupie. I might do hit my dougie at her feet and embarrass myself, but let’s hope not. But I do know that I want her to know how much she’s inspired me so much, and  she’s a big reason that exists. She’s really my mentor in my head.

So here’s to you, Angela. You’re awesomesauce and amazeballs. Thank you for showing me I could possibly dream about doing comedy writing professionally. And thanks for making countless people’s days better with your work. And your hair rocks.

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  1. Jaime
    May 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I love The Broke Diaries, too! Hilarious book. And Angela Nissel is one of my faves, as well. I called everyone I knew when she “liked” one of my pics on Facebook, lol.

  2. kristyn
    May 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    you have totally made my LIFE! by posting this. I read this book when I was in grad school at penn, where she studied. I lost my copy (along with a bunch of other super-important stuff) in a fire 10 years ago. since then, I have been trying to remember the title or her name…mostly by googling stupid ish like, “black girl penn funny memoir,” or “west philly author funny 90s book” to NO avail. I can’t tell you how happy I am!!

  3. May 10, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I love you her as well!! I @ on twitter once and she replied. It’s still in my favorites!

    Luvvie you my dear are you on way to biggest and blueivyiest (yes that’s a word) of things!!! Oh & congrats on the Dove billboard in Times Square!!

  4. SK
    May 11, 2012 at 9:31 am

    If I had my way. I would create a show just for you to write on.

    Your are AWESOME! I love the way you tell a story and spell.

    You Awesomely Luvvie are “Awesomesauce and Amazeballs”!!!

  5. sxykaramel33
    May 23, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Thank you so much for introducing this book into my life! I got it from the library this past weekend and read it straight through. It was hilarious!! I’m still laughing about the Misinformed Militant and his social security number theory. I look forward to reading your book in the future. Your blog and Dumbest Tweets Tumblr brighten my day and give me my daily dose of humor. Keep up the good work!

  6. Mo to tha
    June 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    After reading this post, I also went out and bought The Broke Diaries. I died laughing at just about every page.

    GREAT recommendation!

    • kristyn
      June 12, 2012 at 11:58 pm

      me too!! i remember reading it on the SEPTA bus from my little rowhouse up to my classes at penn, laughing out loud like i couldn’t even help it (i couldn’t) and getting a philly-style side-eye from people in my vicinity…

  7. Tanyetta
    April 17, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Funny Book!!!!

  8. October 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    That book is one of my favorites too. She’s hilarious. I’m not going to judge you. When Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest started following me on Twitter, I took a screenshot AND called my Mom. Now THAT’S worthy of judgement! 😉

  9. natashia
    April 17, 2014 at 12:10 am

    That book is so awesome, it still commands a spot on my bookshelf. ListenToLeon, who posted above me is also awesome.
    This post brought me joy.