Goo Goo Gah Gah: Celebrating the Life of the Icon Uplifting Icons - Ziwe

Goo Goo Gah Gah: Celebrating the Life of the Icon Uplifting Icons - Ziwe

Co-written by Rosie Alaraj and Dinah Clottey

When you look at the late-night lineup, the hosts usually consist of a bunch of white men and Trevor Noah (at least, you used to see Trevor). These men are typically depicted in dark-tailored suits, either talking about politics or having light-hearted conversations with their fave celebrity guests. It doesn’t look like cable television will be changing this format any time soon, but who needs ABC to do that when Ziwe took it into her own hands? 

Ziwerekoru Fumudoh better known as Ziwe is a comedian, talk show host, and writer. Raised in Lawrence, Massachusetts as the second of three children to Nigerian immigrant parents, Ziwe would eventually go on to traverse to the midwest where she graduated from Northwestern University with a double major in film and African American studies. After graduating, she hopped back to the East Coast where she would have a vast and dynamic professional career. While many of us may know about Ziwe’s amazing and illustrious career as the host for her self-titled show Ziwe and as a rising fashion icon, while pursuing her dream of becoming a comedian, Ziwe also worked as a hostess in order to make ends meet (New York is expensive). In this job she wasn’t really passionate about, is where Ziwe discovered the power of the Internet as in between shifts she would share tweets that got the public interested. Well, her hard work would go on to pay off, working as a writer for Desus & Mero, starting her own web series Baited With Ziwe, to now being the executive producer of her own tonight show, Ziwe does a lot. Music, stand-up, acting, live shows, writing, tweeting, modeling, her dream of self-actualizing into a multi-hyphenated being that embraces all of her passions is finally coming true. 

Ziwe took the typical late-night show and flipped it on its head. The backdrops of these sets are usually dark, maybe with the city’s skyline and a few yellow lights dribbled over here and over there. The set of Ziwe is saturated in different hues of pink and blue, exhibiting the faces of icons like Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and of course, Ziwe herself.  Ziwe has said that the “Barbie Dreamhouse” look and feel of her set is supposed to codify the message of the show: Barbed wire disguised in Barbie packaging. Ziwe’s persona is unapologetic, brash, and some might even say terrifying. She wears hyper-feminine, gorgeous outfits with eye-popping, colorful makeup looks to match. On top of all of that, she asks irreverent, witty, and hysterical questions to her roster of A-list guests. She proves that you can be feminine and smart. That you can be feminine and funny. That you can be feminine and bold. When the world is constantly telling women to tone themselves down whether it's our achievements, our beauty, or our demeanor, it is powerful to see figures like Ziwe boldly mocking and making fun of sexist stereotypes. 

Race, gender, white supremacy, human rights, homophobia; if you name any topic impacting society, Ziwe has shined a spotlight on it in her own satirical, iconic way. No matter how outrageous the questions are, the moments captured of her guests are candid and most importantly funny. There’s comedy in the uncomfortableness of it all. Ziwe found that race was such an awkward conversation for people to have even when it is in the literal fiber of how our country was built and is currently run. Not being able to acknowledge “this absolutely enormous elephant in the room [felt] preposterous.” Ziwe gets people to talk about race and have these uncomfortable conversations but also gets them to loosen up and laugh and be less afraid of acknowledging the systems that are right in front of them. 

The discussions on these topics are as insane and flagrant as the problems themselves. She never tries to preach or tell people how to think; her guests don’t even need to answer every question she asks. The main point of her comedy is playing into the absurdity of the negative stereotypes placed on marginalized communities. She uses satire to make you laugh, to make you think, and evoke emotion from you.

At the end of the day, the problems facing society are awful. It’s almost debilitating to turn on the news and hear devastating story after devastating story, but it is comedy that helps make these topics digestible and relevant. We still need to listen, we still need to care, and we still need to fight to enforce change. More than that, Ziwe is a shining example of the power of possibility when one continues to chase after their dreams relentlessly.

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