Watch: Tyler James Williams on how comedy heals 

Emmy-nominated actor Tyler James Williams talks Black comedy and how it heals.

Tyler James Williams has been a staple in comedy for over the past decade and a half. From his days on “Everybody Hates Chris” to “Abbott Elementary,” Williams has made a name for himself. Williams chats with Touré and theGrio on how Black comedy has evolved over time and how comedy can heal you.

The following is a transcript of that conversation.

Touré: [00:00:00] What are you guys doing right over there that’s making the show so popular? [00:00:02][2.7]

Tyler James Williams: [00:00:04] Keeping our heads down. I think that’s really the key. We have a bunch of actors on the show who just want to do really good work. And although it’s had a lot of fanfare and people love it, if we can’t make each other laugh, then we don’t have a show. Our bar is high and it stops with us. [00:00:17][13.6]

Touré: [00:00:18] Do you think about how comedy can help heal the world? [00:00:20][2.2]

Williams [00:00:21] Yes. Yes. Yeah. I mean, we’ve talked about what we don’t like. We’ve yelled at each other, but it’s not really working. We have to find the common ground about what we can laugh about. And I’m happy that a lot of America has found that with this show. And hopefully we can be a small piece of the puzzle that helps us figure this out. [00:00:40][19.0]

Touré: [00:00:40] It feels like when we start laughing, or at least trying to make each other laugh, we move out of a political space and into just like a human space. [00:00:48][7.0]

Williams: [00:00:48] We’re not built to live in a political space as human beings. I think we have a political structure that is in place for a reason that helps us run society. But as human beings, we connect to one another. We’re not adversaries. We evolved because we learned how to connect really well and hopefully we can get back to connection first. [00:01:06][18.1]

Touré: [00:01:08] I think part of what I see in “Abbott Elementary” is that Black and brown people have more power in television now to create authentic portrayals that make us excited. Do you see that? Why is that? [00:01:19][11.1]

Williams: [00:01:21] Here’s the thing. I mean, I get that people make that assumption now, but it’s not like we didn’t know this before. We saw this in the ’90s with this Black sitcom boom. And then for some reason, we like to act like that. We forgot we’re just kind of getting back to what was always working. We need our stories told and we need the very specific angles. “Abbott Elementary” doesn’t work without a little Black girl from Philly writing it. It’s just another show. And I think that’s the part that we need to remember that it’s not just about representation for representation’s sake. We actually make the industry better when we’re all coming to the table. [00:01:21][0.0]

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