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Cassandra “Comedienne Joy” King skillfully serves jokes and good eats

Cassandra "Comedienne Joy" King takes a selfie with patrons at Five Bar in Birmingham, one of the many stops on her brunch tour. ( Reginald Allen, For the Birmingham Times.)
By Reginald Allen
For the Birmingham Times

Cassandra “Comedienne Joy” King takes a selfie with patrons at Five Bar in Birmingham, one of the many stops on her brunch tour. ( Reginald Allen, For the Birmingham Times.)

As a stand-up comic, television personality, and tour guide, Cassandra “Comedienne Joy” King has never been afraid to speak her mind. Her blunt, observational schtick has become her money maker and often a meal ticket.

Looking back, the seasoned talent said she’s always been a hilarious character, adding that friends always found her “jokes” funny, even though she was just being herself.

“My comedy is everyday life—everything you’re thinking, everything you would say among your friends. Being the comedian, you get to say it out loud and people laugh at it,” Comedienne Joy said over drinks recently at the Pizitz Food Hall in downtown Birmingham. “I think it’s cool because you get to laugh, I get a check, and usually I get to eat. I have the best of both worlds.”

Hidden Gems

As the host of “Dining Out with Comedienne Joy,” which airs on Saturdays on WABM-TV My 68, she explores the Magic City’s bevy of eateries. Dubbing herself the “Guy Fieri of Birmingham,” she combines her love of food and comedy on the program.

“On my TV show, I’m funny because sometimes when I eat food it makes me lose my mind,” Comedienne Joy said. “I don’t know about you, but when I eat food that’s so good, I’m like, ‘Man, I need to put my nightgown on.’ There’s some food you just want to eat by yourself because you want to make noise when you eat it. That’s what food does to me on the TV show. When I’m eating that food, it’s so good. I must show people how to eat that chicken. If you can’t clean the meat off the bone, you can’t be trusted.”

Since October, Comedienne Joy has launched a series of brunch and dinner tours. Patrons spend four hours on a party bus, visiting some of Birmingham’s hidden culinary gems. The tour incorporates numerous restaurants throughout the metro area and neighboring cities, making stops at many of the locations featured on her show. The tour also serves as a platform to bridge the invisible partition between the stage and the audience.

Cassandra “Comedienne Joy” King performs a stand-up routine during a church conference. (Reginald Allen, For the Birmingham Times.)

“I’m right there with them,” she said. “They’re getting Comedienne Joy from TV, Comedienne Joy from the stage is right there on that party bus. We’re on that bus for four hours and we’re going to be best friends afterward.”

“Queen of Clean”

Comedienne Joy’s venture into stand-up bordered on divine intervention. She recalled a former pastor’s sermon on the concept of entrepreneurship, during which it was suggested that the congregation “pray and ask what our talents are.” Though the preacher’s message struck a chord, it was a late-night episode of BET’s “Comic View” that triggered a revelation. She would be a comedienne—a clean comedienne.

A devout Christian, Comedienne Joy knew her material had to be appropriate for not only the Lord’s people but also her daughter, who is now 22.

“I didn’t want to be a dirty comic,” she said. “I wanted to be clean. I wanted to be an example for my daughter, who was young at the time. I said, ‘If I tell clean jokes, I get to mess up Bible verses, talk about preachers—and there’s no shortage of churches in Birmingham—so that was a niche for me. I just coined myself the ‘Queen of Clean.’”

“Kept Getting Fired”

Despite her royal moniker, Comedienne Joy still had her share of nine-to-five jobs to keep the bills paid. She always had a job. Keeping it was the problem, she said.

It wasn’t until 2014 that she took the big leap, quitting her then job with the American Heart Association to pursue comedy full-time. The timing just seemed right. Months prior, her mother had passed and her daughter had just graduated from high school. And after a lifetime of jobs, Comedienne Joy was ready to finally have a career.

“After my mom died in 2014, I realized that the world is going to go on, so why should you be miserable. I knew I was probably going to be fired anyway,” Comedienne Joy joked. “That’s how I became a comedienne: I kept getting fired.”

Comfort Zone

The church is Comedienne Joy’s true comfort zone. While she’s been known to perform at traditional venues, including The StarDome in Hoover, she prefers her audience in the pews rather than at a table with a two-drink minimum. After nearly two decades in the business, she’s found that the Lord’s place is the easiest and most comfortable venue for her style of entertainment.

“When I go into places late at night, when the show is starting people are drinking,” Comedienne Joy explained. “That’s not my comfort zone because when you perform at a certain time with so much alcohol people want to hear stuff I don’t talk about. I can’t relate to smoking weed. I can’t relate to going to jail. I can’t relate to doing promiscuous stuff. That’s not who I am.

“For me, you must be able to relate to your audience, so I love performing for women groups because we have a whole lot of stuff in common. Men are crazy. Your kids are crazy. The whole world is crazy.”

Performing for a religious crowd also enables to Comedienne Joy to provide therapy.

“The Bible tells us that laughter is medicine; it does the body good,” she said. “There are so many times that we have problems, or we go to these churches where the preachers trying to send everyone to hell. Don’t send everyone to hell. Give them a good laugh. If you’re gonna go to hell, at least go to hell laughing.

“We need more laughter because everyone is so tense. We are so uptight. If I can get people to laugh for 30 minutes and forget their problems, for me, I feel like I’ve done something.”

Visit www.DiningOutWithComedienneJoy.com for more information about Comedienne Joy or follow on @ComedienneJOY on Twitter 

To read about more Birmingham comediennes, click here

To read about more Birmingham comediennes, click here

To read about more Birmingham comediennes, click here