On Wednesday, October 27, 2021, I moseyed on down to The Center for Fiction for book talk between comedian Roy Wood, Jr. and actress/comedian Yvonne Orji about her book Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams.
Truth be told, I ordered the audiobook the week it was released in May of this year. I had a credit to use, and I wanted to help support her first-week sales. It’s all about making bestseller lists. As one of my professors ingrained into us MFA writing students: we must spread writing karma. Spread the love and it’ll come back to you, so I did. As usual, my TBR has been out of control and I haven’t had a second to hit play. So now I have the physical book and the audiobook.
I like Yvonne. I’ve been following her on Instagram since Season 1 of HBO’s Insecure. I cheered for her when she opened for Chris Rock at Barclay’s during his Blackout Tour, which is now on Netflix as Tambourine. I never watched it. I was there! Before the special was released, I already knew how and why it was named after his closing joke.
I’ve been craving book events and other beloved pre-pandemic events even though it rages on. I’m officially vaxxed, so I’m eligible to attend all these indoor events that non-vaxxed folks are banned from per New York City’s mandate. The month of October found me at Brooklyn Book Festival, Brooklyn Museum to view the Obama portraits, and now The Center for Fiction in Brooklyn.
Yvonne was funny and candid as she talked about her hesitation of telling her Nigerian parents she wanted to pursue a career in entertainment. She shared anecdotes about her struggle and patience to make it as a stand-up comic, actor, and creator of a show. First Gen, a show about being a first-generation American, was pitched in 2015 or 2016 and this year she was finally able to sell it. No doubt the successes of shows like Bob ♥ Abishola written by Gina Yashere and Insecure helped assuage execs’ hesitation about backing a *gasp* Black show. When she asked the audience who had beef with her Insecure character Molly last season, I sure did raise my hand. I was practically a lone wolf with just two or three other raised hands in the packed room.
It was a pleasant surprise that attendees were able to get our books personalized and take photos with Yvonne. I was under the impression that the book that came with the ticket would be pre-signed. I congratulated her on her success, told her I missed new podcast episodes of Jesus and Jollof with her and Luvvie (but I wouldn’t hassle her for new ones because I understood that she was booked and busy), and I told her that I was at Barclays when she opened for Chris Rock. When I mentioned the body rolls she said I for sure was there.
Allow me to take this moment to humblebrag that Yvonne complimented my short haircut, my skin, and my bright-ass sweater. “I love the color blocking.” I appreciated that she acknowledged my effort to look cute as I venture out into social settings again. I had the nerve to wear my new Tory Burch black ankle booties with gold two-inch heels instead of my usual red, black, gold, or silver Chucks. My feet were not happy. Other than that (and being late because I missed the bus), ‘twas a very good night.