Yamaneika Saunders is the quintessential comedienne for our time. She’s sharp, quick-witted, versatile… and of course, hilarious! Her brutally honest anecdotes and surprisingly candid delivery will have you rolling in the aisles asking the dreaded question, “Did she really go there?” In a review by Avalon UK, she is described as ‘one of the most talented, unique, and multifarious multi-hyphenate artists.’ No wonder too as the list of talents on her repertoire is as long as the trek from Cape to Cairo!
You may recognize her as the panelist on the Meredith Viera Show or as the correspondent from the Jimmy Fallon Show, but she is a truly a classic Renaissance Comic. Her talents extend far and wide over the entertainment sector and include acting, writing, hosting and even voice-acting. As a stand-up comedienne, her humor is relatable and fitting; touching on topics as sensitive and relevant as race, family responsibility and gender roles.
She often takes the audience on a journey with her captivating storytelling and comedic timing. Her material is blunt, open and direct interwoven with a self-deprecation that is both charming and refreshing! Although her gift for the funny is unquestionable, her journey to the stars has been long, arduous and winding and is a true testament to her boldness and courage.
Born Yamaneika Torae Saunders in Aberdeen, Maryland USA, she attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and moved to New York in pursuit of her dreams at the tender age of 21. She has cited her mother as her inspirational campaigner; a role model who raised and encouraged her to follow her dreams. Her first official win was working with Gladys Simone in the Comedy Room and the rest, as they say is history!
You may have seen her perform at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, or caught up with her on the NBC’s hit show Last Comic Standing in 2014, where she finished strong as a semi-finalist. Included in her portfolio are bouts of collaboration alongside other multi-talented stars such as Caroline Rhea and Amy Schumar. However, if you’re prone to derive your comedy fix from audio platforms, then you may know her voice as the therapist in Flatbush Misdemeanors. Also critically acclaimed in that category is her provocative, relatable and funny weekly podcast Rantin’ and Ravin.’
She’s incredibly prolific. She has done a half hour special on Comedy Central and has also been featured in TruTV’s Comedy Knockout. Oh.. And she also does a web series with Kandi Buruss called Kandi Koated Nights, where she hilariously spills all the tea about love, sex, relationships and other “taboo” topics. If you’re a reality TV fan, a personal favorite will be her feature in 2015 on Oxygen’s Funny Girls, where she plays a lead role in this work of art that analyses the behind-the-scenes lives of female comedians.
In her appearances on TV Shows it is evident that she has a beautiful way with audiences across the divide from every walk of life. She’s made an appearance on The Jim Gaffigan Show as well as The Nightly with Larry Wilmore. Her versatility also has even seen her featured on the animated online series In Security. As if that’s all she does! Already mentioned she’s a writer? A darn good one. If you love the Eric Andre Show and That damn Michael Che, then chances are that you’ve already had a sumptuous taste of her humor in writing as she is one of the staff writers on both shows!
Despite all the “meanderings” her true home is the stand-up comedy stage. If you sit in the audience at one of her shows, you’ll be confronted with an active outspoken and alluring comedienne. To your excitement (or dismay!) you‘ll notice that nothing is off limits- absolutely nothing! Expect a candid conversation about taking her wheelchair-ridden grandfather to the bathroom or about hating the fact that she has to attend her best friend’s wedding! Think that’s bad? Wait till you hear the public service announcement that she is on her periods! Her spunk and confidently appealing attitude has remarkable parallels to Tiffany Haddish, yet her uncensored honesty and refusal to be politically correct echo the sweet sentiments of Dave Chapelle- is this greatness in the making?
Some interesting fun facts to tickle your fancy. Many people are not aware that at some point, a career in the clergy was on the table for discussion and debate with her grandparents both being chapel priests. Her birthday in early November (3rd) makes her a Scorpio. Traits associated with this Sun sign include fearlessness, fierce loyalty, passion, creativity and even unending energy. This we certainly know to be true!
Many people are not aware that at some point in her career, she was booed off the stage at the Apollo. According to her own testimony, people booed her even as she climbed into her car to travel home! This is evidence of her true courage and fighting spirit, as she is now bookmarked as one of the top-rising comediennes of our time. If you visit any of her shows and performances, you’ll notice the crowd doing a lot of things: Rolling on the floor laughing or cocking heads back in delirious merriment. You may see them nudging one another with glee or leaning expectantly forward in anticipation of her next outrageous words. Booing is certainly one thing you will not hear! If anything, Yem’s resilient spirit and effortless ability to laugh at herself inspires us to contemplate the words of the great Christopher Fry: “Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith.” And who doesn’t need a little bit of that?
Most important, go see her live!
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