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Williams: UCB trouper gives ‘Daily Show’ youth boost

10 Comics to Watch 2012 - Jessica Williams

Technically, Jessica Williams is still a student at Cal State Long Beach, though few would blame her for taking a leave of absence. After toughing it as an undergrad, the sassy, “not going to take any shit” comic booked a job as “The Daily Show’s” youngest correspondent, interviewing socialist factions and chastising Jon Stewart on-air.

“I’ve been to Del Taco, scraping for change, and the cashier would say, ‘Just take this chicken soft taco,’?” Williams says. “That was my life in September, and now I live in New York City, and I work on ‘The Daily Show.’?”

This isn’t the first time Williams has juggled stardom and school. As a teen, she appeared in Nickelodeon’s “Just for Kicks” for the series’ one and only season, after which she returned to high school and participated in the improv show ComedySportz. In college, Williams started doing sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade, paving the way for her “Daily Show” gig.

Field pieces aside, the show suits Williams’ experience performing in front of live audiences. “The show films in real time, so I still perform live in front of people like I’m used to,” she says.

Looking forward, Williams is most interested in writing sketches or movies and performing standup, which she’s never done. But she wants to try it all: do a one-woman show, write a book or just about anything related to comedy or writing.

“The cool thing about this job is that it’s opening me up to a million crazy-ass possibilities,” she says. “That’s my biggest problem. I want everything.”

P.O.V.: “Sometimes I collaborate with the writers if they write things in my language. So instead of saying, ‘Cool,’ I would say, ‘Dope.’?”
Influences: Eddie Murphy, Amy Poehler, Lucille Ball, Tina Fey — and Beyonce, for her work ethic
Reps: United Talent Agency/Mosaic

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