HBO has found success in the past year with having stand-up comedians go back home with a documentary camera crew in tow to fill in and flesh out the details of jokes and allow the audience to embrace the comedian even more.
Gary Gulman. Whitmer Thomas. Now Yvonne Orji, whom HBO viewers probably already know from Insecure.
Orji divulges that while she earned a master’s degree in public health, she never became a doctor. And she talks about how disappointed that makes her elders, with testimonials from her Nigerian friends to back that back up, as well as Orji retelling a Gina Yashere joke about how children of Nigerian parents can choose from only four occupations: “Doctor, lawyer, engineer or a disappointment.”
In Orji’s case, she jokes that her mother not only reminds her of the path not chosen, but took a worst-case-scenario outlook upon learning Orji would pursue comedy over medicine. “I said, ‘Mom, I want to do comedy.’ She heard, ‘So you want to prostitute yourself all over the world?’”
That’s doubly funny, not only because stand-up comedians have historically, and not altogether incorrectly, compared themselves to strippers, onstage baring it all (in comedy’s case, emotionally if not physically), but also because Orji first found her comedy calling by performing stand-up as the talent portion in a beauty pageant.
Fortunately, after what she called a “7-8 year struggle” in comedy, Orji doesn’t have to worry about anyone being disappointed in her or her career path.