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Tanisha Long: From Fashion to Comedy, a style all her own!

This comedian is making a name for herself in the comedy world. The West Philadelphia native discusses how she gained her love for comedy, transition from fashion to comedy, and her upcoming projects. Tanisha met with displaying her fashion background. Wearing black vans, black, skinny ripped jeans, black tank with matching hat, chic glasses with a lime green sling bag, she gives the public a look into her life.

Interview by Alysia Lester | Two.One.Five Magazine Did you always know you wanted to be a comedian?

Tanisha Long: No, I actually went to school for Fashion Merchandising. I went to many schools in Phila, PA: Drexel University, Philadelphia University, and Penn State University. Drexel’s still trying to get money from me. I think they sued me twice, now it’s not on my credit report, so I’m like whatever [laughs]. I just randomly moved here with a friend eight years ago and took some improv classes. I’ve always loved comedy, always watched it, but never thought I would be good enough to be a comedian. Every time I look back, I am so lucky to be in this position but have worked extremely hard. Before I even started onstage, making money off of performances, I was training in improv. I am happy to be doing it.

215mag: Why comedy?

TL: I love comedy. I’ve always loved comedy. I love fashion too, but realized I didn’t love fashion as a job. I love shopping, but I really didn’t want to be a buyer when it came down to it. I want to be a stylist too, but I would rather dress myself. I have friends who are stylists, and it is an extreme grind. I don’t love that the way I love comedy. I will go broke doing [comedy]. And I sometimes do. The sacrifices I am willing to make for comedy versus fashion are so different.

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215mag: Sacrifices? Some people think comedians are well off.

TL: It’s a constant struggle. Yes, I am on television, but a lot of that stuff cannot sustain a lifestyle in NY, especially. I am moving to LA in October because I cannot afford to live in the city. And I don’t even live in the city, I live outside of it. I just want to live more comfortably and be in LA for acting. It’s really hard to come to NY and make it. And I love Philly (Philadelphia), I’m from Philly. I can’t do what I do here in Philly. I wish I could, because I love that city and living there is fantastic. Having a one bedroom apartment in Rittenhouse Square (in Philadelphia), and bartend somewhere and do standup, that would be great. But you just can’t do it on the level you do it here.

215mag: How was the transition moving from West Philly to NYC?

TL: I hated it when I first moved here. I learned to tolerate it. I’ve never really loved it. It’s like being in a relationship with someone you don’t like because they’re attractive and have a lot of money. It’s really what it is. Apparently, I can have a relationship like that because I’ve lived here for eight years. I don’t like it here but everything amazing in my life is here-friends, career opportunities, where I live. NY in itself is so hard. This past winter was just: move out of NY, move! Don’t be here next winter. I told myself I will not be here next winter. It is terrible.

215mag: What do you tell yourself when times get rough?

TL: I cry a lot [laughs]. I’ll give myself a couple days and cry and I’ll be ok. I will try to write through it and write jokes about why I’m sad because dating here is hard too, and I’ve gone through a bunch of terrible breakups while living here.

215mag: Don’t you think it would be the opposite? A variety of men in a big city?

TL: Oh, it’s the worst! There’s too many options for guys and none want to be in a serious relationship. They think they do, then they’re like, “Tanisha’s cool, she’s funny, she’s pretty, I’m going to date her”, then it’s like “oh! You want to be in a serious, serious relationship. I want to be in a serious relationship where I pretend like you’re my girlfriend, but then date other people, is that not what you want?” So, I’ll go through breakups and cry, while writing jokes.

215mag: Does it help?

TL: It’s the best thing. I’m trying not to tell jokes about my ex-boyfriends anymore, because I know for a fact that one of them enjoys me telling jokes about him because he’s a narcissist. So, now every joke about him is gone from my set. I will not talk about him on stage. I have another ex that I’m friends with, and he is a sweet guy so the jokes about him are funny. They’re just about how big his penis is, because he has a big penis.

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215mag: Who is your favorite comedian?

TL: I’ve always looked up to Dave Chappelle. I loved Chappelle Show. Watching his work is amazing. I grew up watching sketch improve more than standup, so I have my favorite sketches. I loved In Living Color, SNL, and Kids in the Hall. Those shows affected my sense of humor growing up.

215mag: How did you get involved in Girl Code and Guy Code?

TL: It’s a dream job. Damien Lemon, who is also one of my favorite comedians, I worked with him on a pilot for MTV years ago, before Guy Code was even thought of. We stayed in touch, and he is one of the sweetest guys ever. The thing with comedy guys is a lot of them make friends with women in comedy because they’re creeps and trying to live with you, but all the guys on Guy Code are nice guys. They have never been creepy. So, the creator of Guy Code was talking about creating a Girl Code and Damien brought my name up. I auditioned and here I am [laughs], three seasons later.

215mag: How was the audition process?

TL: You walk in and are given topics to talk about. It was like an episode of Girl Code. It was pretty fun and I remember after the first audition, I was like if someone is going to pay me to do this, I need this job! I was freaking out about whether I was going to get a callback. When I found out I got it, I cried. It’s been great.

215mag: How was the atmosphere on set?

TL: It’s so easy. The crew is great. They are really nice. The writers and producers are fantastic.

(Interview interrupted by a Pomeranian dog showing off her new haircut)

Owner: She just got a haircut.

TL: So she’s emotional?

Owner: She’s just excited about it.

TL: I saw a video of a Pomeranian and it was walking on its hind legs!

Owner: Yes, they do that!

TL: That’s hilarious.

(Interviews continues)

TL: So, I don’t get to be in the same room as the other girls on the show. I’ll see them in passing, in the makeup room. It’s really interesting because when you watch the show, you think we’re all sitting in a room together. We all work well together.

215mag: Best piece of advice you have ever gotten?

TL: I’ve met Dave Chappelle once when I was a server at a hotel and he told me “you don’t need anybody else to have your career.” I was talking to him about how I wanted to be on a team at an improv theater and use that to help build my career. He told me you don’t need that, you don’t need SNL. I auditioned for Saturday Night Live, and I didn’t get on. It was interesting to hear that from someone on that level. While I was doing improv and sketch, I didn’t really find a home that other people did. It turned out fine even though I wasn’t lifted upon improv theater’s shoulders. I found my way anyway. That was the best advice.

215mag: How was auditioning for shows like SNL?

TL: You do it, and then afterwards, you have to forget what you did. Because you have no control over anything. Have a clear mind, go in, and make everybody laugh. Do a good show and walk away and never think about it again. To even be thought of is so incredibly flattering.

215mag: What advice would you give to up-and-coming comedians?

TL: Keep doing it and stay focused. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything. Especially now that I’m doing standup, I meet other performers who are insecure about their place in their career. Some have told me, “You don’t want to be really attractive performing”. That is insulting to me and the audience. You think the audience is that stupid? And the material is that bad that all they’re going to see is that I’m remotely attractive? Or they’ll say “You shouldn’t talk about this, or that.” Talk about what you want to talk about. Chris Distefano, of Guy Code, told me “do what you want to do. Not what your manager, agent or other comics want.” Find your voice. I’m still finding mine. Keep going and failing. Donnell Rawlings, also of Guy Code, told me “be ready to fail and embrace it.”

215mag: Do you read the comments about you social media?

TL: When I started on social media, my feelings used to get hurt, and most of the comments were from girls under the age of 14. It made me sad, because girls are mean to each other when they’re young. They must think I am their age, because the comments would be things said to another girl in grade school. I’ve been picked on, so I know what is going on. Now, I laugh because you took time out of your day to say something mean to me.

215mag: I viewed your YouTube video of your opinion of men verbally harassing women in the street. How do you feel about the disrespect women receive from men?

TL: Guys on the street feel entitled to talk to us. If we don’t, then they call us a name, or they yell. One day I had on pajamas, a hat, no makeup and some guy said something sexual and disgusting. It is not a compliment. I feel we start raising our sons to show respect. This is something that guys have learned. That is scary to have guys yelling at me. I’ve had guys follow me home since I was 13, and I wish it would stop.

215mag: Earlier, you mentioned moving to Los Angeles, CA. Explain why.

TL: All of the television and film studios are out there. I worry about going there and not being able to do standup as much. I’m scared it will hurt that but I’m going to try to be bi-costal. The next step in my career is doing television and film, and I will continue to do Girl Code. But it would be nice to actually earn some money, have a salary, and pay bills on time [laughs].

215mag: What is the craziest thing a fan has done?

TL: I haven’t had any crazy fans. I hope this doesn’t encourage anyone to do some crazy fan shit, because I’m not for it.

215mag: People recognize you in the street?

TL: If I look the way I do on television, then everyone comes up to me. Then people who don’t even care or know who I am, they see someone taking a picture with me, then it’s like “oh, I’m going to take a picture too, she must be somebody.” I am not important. I am on an MTV show. I will say I get free coffee at every Starbucks. I think Starbucks only hires Girl Code fans, because they know who I am!

215mag: Where do you see yourself in five years?

TL: Own a house in the hills in Hollywood, have a condo in the Upper West Side, be in every movie ever! [laughs] I hope to be doing standup in theaters. I would like my standup to get that good. I’d love to be on a sitcom and have done a comedy movie or two. Maybe have a boyfriend and dog by then. I doubt it. I probably will have a dog before I have a boyfriend. I feel like guys get intimidated by my schedule. I cannot date comedians, it’s not good. They would talk about you in their set. I have never had that happen, even though I’ve dated a comedian. Comedians tend to be unstable and it is hard to have two unstable crazy people together, and one of them needs to be sane. My career is always going to be number one is my life and I am not in a rush for any of that.

215mag: What do you want to be remembered for?

TL: Geez! That’s tough [laughs]

215mag: On Girl Code and Guy Code?

TL: Oh, I hope I won’t just be remembered for being on Girl Code and Guy code! That I’m funny, and I work hard! It’s a loaded question. I respect people. I feel like I’m going to get on the train and say “I should have said this!”

215mag: Do you have any upcoming projects?

TL: Girl Code is coming back. I just wrapped up the third season. I am going to be doing a college tour doing standup, and will be doing shows throughout.

215mag: Thank you so much!

TL: Thank you!

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