Going viral with a funny story on late-night TV

The clip of actress Tiffany Haddish telling the tale of how she took film couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith on a Groupon swamp tour in New Orleans is so hilarious that it racked up nearly 650,000 YouTube views in four days.
The clip of actress Tiffany Haddish telling the tale of how she took film couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith on a Groupon swamp tour in New Orleans is so hilarious that it racked up nearly 650,000 YouTube views in four days. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Actress Tiffany Haddish, who stars in new hit comedy Girls Trip, is the talk of the town after she had Jimmy Kimmel and the audience in stitches

WASHINGTON • There are so many ways to go viral with an appearance on late-night television: Have a rap battle with comedian Jimmy Fallon; help teach TV host Conan O’Brien’s employee how to drive; spill all the details of your feud with pop star Taylor Swift to comedian James Corden.

Or, in actress Tiffany Haddish’s case, you could go on Jimmy Kimmel Live and just tell a really, really funny story.

It is a strategy that is increasingly rare these days, as it takes a lot to get attention on one of the many latenight shows.

However, Haddish’s tale of taking film couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith on a Groupon swamp tour in New Orleans is so hilarious that the clip took on a life of its own, making its way around Twitter and racking up nearly 650,000 YouTube views in four days.

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Haddish was on Kimmel’s show last week to promote Girls Trip, the raunchy comedy that just came in second at the North American box office over the weekend, earning an estimated US$30.8 million (S$41.9 million).

The movie, starring four black women (Regina Hall, Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Haddish) as friends who let loose in New Orleans, is one of two nonfranchise, non-superhero films to have topped the box office this summer. The other is the gritty World War II drama Dunkirk.

Haddish’s anecdote involves a US$20-a-day rental car, drunk tourists, the revelation that Will Smith can afford to buy an ecosystem and the confirmation that celebrities such as Pinkett Smith do not use discount deal sites.

“That is an unbelievably great story,” Kimmel gushed at the end of her tale, which had the audience in stitches.

Haddish, whose breakout performance in Girls Trip has been singled out for praise, has been called “the funniest person alive right now” by Vanity Fair magazine.

The movie’s success comes as debates about diversity in Hollywood continue to gain steam. And the past couple of years have shown that although Hollywood traditionally undervalues movies with black and female leads, it is only to its peril.

Hidden Figures, based on the true story of three black and female National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists, was a box-office hit and the top-grossing movie among all of this year’s Oscar Best Picture nominees.

Actress Taraji P. Henson, who starred in Hidden Figures, wrote on Instagram after the movie opened at No. 1: “I have been told my entire career ‘Black women can’t open films domestically or internationally’. Well anything is possible.”

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2017, with the headline 'Going viral with a funny story on late-night TV'. Print Edition | Subscribe