Donate to the Transgender Law Center

Khadi Don On Being A Woman In Comedy: “It Makes Me Feel Godly”

The genuine comedian talks about her outlandish skits and how the internet has shaped what we consider to be funny.

September 19, 2016

A photo posted by Khadi Don (@khadidon) on

ADVERTISEMENT

Khadi Don isn't concerned with curbing her wild sense of humor.

The charismatic creative started making funny videos on Vine and YouTube in 2013, but they really took off after she recorded her own comical rendition of Eve's song "Who's That Girl" called "Who's That Bitch." It's caption, "When you see someone flirting under bae's pictures," made it a relatable anthem for anyone who had the same question.

Since then, Don moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Los Angeles, California in January of this year to pursue her comedy and acting career and now she has a large social media following because of her viral humor. Don's content isn't predictable and she always offers surprise twists in her skits to keep the audience engaged. In her new #SoGoneChallenge video, that got a flame emoji retweet from her friend and fellow funny human, Slim Jxmmi of Rae Sremmurd, Don records her own version of the viral hashtag but it's not the clever freestyle that you'd expect.

Over the phone, Khadi Don spoke to The FADER from her home in Los Angeles about why being a funny woman makes her feel empowered, her Mary J. Blige dance impersonation video, and how the internet has pop culture humor.



When did you realize that you could potentially make a career out of making online videos this?

KHADI DON: At first, it was all fun and games and I just did it because it was a phase or at least Vine was. But once I started getting hit up by brands and WorldStar Hip-Hop, I started talking to other influencers who were like, “So and so made it into a movie or a tv show,” and I’m like, This might be the wave that I could possibly make a career out of it.

What video would you say was the one that got you the attention?

I honestly think people started to recognize me when I put out, “Who’s That Bitch.” It was that one. All my little bad and little ghetto videos, I’m like “Damn!” People kids coming up to me like, "Who's that bitch." I’m like "No!" [Laughs] The ideas just come. I was just listening to the song and I’m like, Oh my God, I can remake this.

Music really pushes and influences a lot of online comedy videos. How long in advance did you plan out the Mary J. Blige dance impersonation?

ADVERTISEMENT

I’d done Mary J. Blige ones but I’d never had a whole outfit. I was watching her and I’m like, She’s fucking it up. So I went to DSW and I got my boots and I got my brother and I’m like, "Okay, we finna go and record this video." It was so hot. I twisted my ankle because I had on some wedge heels and it tore my ankle up but I filmed it like a day before I released it. [Laughs]

Why do you think people love the Mary J. Blige dance so much?

She reminds us of our own aunts and how she’s so carefree. She doesn’t care and people make up routines but she just does it on her own. She’s like the auntie at the barbecue. I love it.


It makes me feel godly. It makes me feel amazing to be funny woman.

Speaking of being carefree, there's a special level of confidence in being a woman who is unabashedly funny because society always has these expectations of how we should act. How does it make you feel to step outside of that?

It makes me feel godly. It makes me feel amazing to be funny woman. I just went into my "Beyoncé voice." [Laughs] It just feels good because guys are so hard on us. I’ll get a few guys that comment on my videos like, “Women aren’t funny, go in the kitchen.” It’s just like, because I have a vagina I can’t be funny? It’s really empowering.

You joke a lot about dating situations so how does your humor impact you with men in those settings?

They already know. They don’t take my videos seriously. There will be situations in my dating life that I over exaggerate like getting cheated on. Like in the "What would you do if you got cheated on?" video, I didn’t cut the dick off but in the back of my mind I wanted to. So I’m like, I can make a video so that the next guy won’t cheat on me. Girls can relate to that.

Do you ever meet any guy who’s funnier than you?

ADVERTISEMENT

Hell naw. I wish. I’m trying to find one. It’s hard.

You show a lot of different personalities in the videos. Where do they come from? Would you say that they’re parts of you?

I don’t know. [Laughs] I’m like, Why do I do this? I’ve always done different personalities and different people. I’m like a big pizza and I have different slices. I know the crazy one is me for sure, the real goofy one, the serious person. The mom is in me because that’s my mom and she’s a piece of me.

As a person who’s content lives online, how do you think the internet has shifted or shaped comedy and what we think is funny today?

It's shifted like crazy. When Vine was around, everybody was laughing at anything that was quirky, corny, or in the moment. It was really relatable. Now, we find funny things in topics that are more so relatable to us. It's being able to tag somebody like “Hey that’s you, that’s me” or “You remember that one time?” If it’s not really relatable, then it has to be out of the box and funny because a lot of people won’t get it or understand it.


People don’t give us any credit and don’t see the work that’s behind it — the hours of editing and recording. Trying to reply back to people is a lot of work. In addition to that, we still have our own lives.

How’s your Twitter different from your Snapchat?

Snapchat is straight up raw and crazy. I’ll say a lot of stuff on Snapchat that I won’t say on Twitter because I know you can’t keep it. On Snapchat, people really allow you to do what you want because it’s not edited or prerecorded. It’s just behind the scenes, so I do my concerts and stuff that I don’t plan out. On Twitter, it’s like, I’ve recorded and edited this. People are less judgmental on Snapchat. On Twitter, I don’t want to see your life and you on the toilet. Unfollow. Block. Girl make post a video and quit playing. [Laughs]

Your Olympics reenactment video that you put on Twitter was really high quality. Do you do all of special effects and edits yourself?

ADVERTISEMENT

I do everything. That video was done when I was supposed to go to a party. I was like — priorities. I stayed home and edited it and it took me a good hour to two hours to do that because I have to photoshop it and transport that to my video editing software.

Do you think there’s a misconception about online comedians? Like you don’t get enough credit for that type of hard work?

Yeah. It’s funny, some online comedians are real life comedians, too. For people like me, they do try to discredit us like, “Oh you’re just Instagram funny, or a Celebrity, or Vine star.” People don’t give us any credit and don’t see the work that’s behind it: the hours of editing and recording. Trying to reply back to people — it’s a lot of work. In addition to that, we still have our own lives. We go through hard times, but we still manage to make you laugh for free. They just don’t understand.

How do you balance that with the expectation to be so present online on a day where you’re not feeling your best?

I have those days. You just have to balance it out and that’s just life in general. I’m learning how not to take everything to heart, and to balance my happiness, and understand that in due time it will pass. If I am going through something, making videos actually makes me happy. It takes me out of real life in a way.

What is an impersonation that you really want to nail?

Beyoncé [in a Beyoncé voice]. Yes! I got to get her down and all the way down. I’m good but I’m not up to par. I'm scared she goin' come get me. [Laughs]

More from FADER Video
Khadi Don On Being A Woman In Comedy: “It Makes Me Feel Godly”