Two Generations of Funny — humor is a family affair

(l-r) Ci Ci Cooper and daughter Khadijah Cooper
(l-r) Ci Ci Cooper and daughter Khadijah Cooper

By Dwight Hobbes

For Ci Ci Cooper and daughter Khadijah Cooper, not only didn’t the apple fall far from the tree, it didn’t bother to roll.  Standup comic Ci Ci, a veteran of 25 years, has carved out a career as an ace cutup.  Nine months ago, Khadijah decided to directly follow suit, taking to the stage, trying her hand at humor. Each, to be sure, has her own distinct style.

Ci Ci Cooper is, to understate the case, acerbic.  One tends to believe she could, as the saying goes, strike a match on her asterisk.  And she isn’t much worried about who doesn’t like it.  She delivers killer punchlines with a droll deadpan, holding no cow scared and hilariously hard on fellas who have a sense of entitlement about their masculine prowess.

Khadijah Cooper, on the other hand, is personable, blithely off-hand and prone to subtle throwaway lines that leave audiences laughing at considerable food for thought.

You’ll do your funny bone a favor to catch them this weekend at the Royal Comedy Theatre, with Ci Ci headlining and Khadijah as the featured opener.  It’s a return engagement.  They debuted the Two Generations of Funny bill in May and the evening worked so well that they’re back at the request of management.

They don’t perform as a team but regularly find themselves hanging out, enjoying one another’s company in what not infrequently winds up as woodshedding.  “We don’t write together intentionally”, says Ci Ci.  “But, it’s a natural thing when we’re together — we live in what we call ‘in a dibs world.’ We’re just having a normal conversation and sometimes whatever we’re talking about is really funny. You could see it belonging in a comedy act. Whichever one of us first calls dibs gets to have [that material].”

She has followed Khadijah’s career with, of course, great interest.  “Comedians are always their worst critics. As her mom, I’m her best critic. Not only am I proud of her because she’s my daughter, I’m proud of her because she’s chasing after her dream.  She fell into it naturally.  She fell into it honestly.  And she’s building on it.

“Not only that, she talks to other comic, getting advice. Not just listening to her mom.”  She points out that Khadijah also is co-producer of the successful People of Comedy showcase.  “She’s making a name for herself, just doing what she’s loving and I love watching her do that.”

Starting out, Khadijah had two perspectives on Ci Ci.  “As a young kid I had seen my mom in these nightclubs, under the spotlights; I honestly thought she was famous.  I just really admired her.  I was, like, okay, I want to do this.  I want to be on stage.”

However, she soon developed second thoughts. “It was intimidating.  I was scared because my mom was very funny.  I thought maybe I’m one of those people who are funny in conversation, but not on stage.  So, I think I had a lot of self-doubt going into it.”

Ultimately, she just went for it. “I knew that if I was going to start doing comedy, I was going to have to dive into it.  I didn’t want to kind of pussyfoot around. I had to invest in it. I kept thinking about it and kept thinking about it. When something keeps coming into your mind, that’s the message that you’re supposed to do it.”

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

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