T.Barb 2024

T.Barb is leaving her home of Detroit for an evening of comedy at Windsor’s Club 9 Banquet Hall for Ford City Funnies on February 24.

Tiffany Barber, known on stage as T.Barb, is a name that resonates with the kind of humor that is both sharp and warm, the kind that has been honed not in the quiet corners of comedy clubs, but in the real-life arena of social work and protective services. “I’ve been funny my whole life,” T.Barb says, her voice tinged with the kind of sincerity that only comes from true self-awareness. “I always was an unofficial comedian to begin with.”

Her journey from a 14-year career in social work to the spotlight of stand-up comedy is a narrative of transformation, marked by a pivotal moment at an open mic night. “Once I did it and I went up there, it was like a magical spark set off in my head, and I was like, yo, this is what I was meant to be doing my whole life,” T.Barb recalls. It was a realization that her gift for making people laugh was not just a personal attribute but a calling.

The path to comedy was not without its hurdles. As a mother and an established adult, T.Barb faced the daunting task of navigating a male-dominated industry and finding venues to perfect her craft in Detroit, a city not known as a comedy hub. “I’m doing comedy at bars, in the backyard, anywhere and everywhere, wherever you say, you got $14, I’m on the way in the back of a truck,” she quips about her early hustle.

But T.Barb’s resilience is as much a part of her act as her humor. “Sometimes you have to take three steps backwards to take four steps forward,” she muses, reflecting on the sacrifices and budgeting that were necessary to chase her dreams. Her story is not just about the laughs she delivers but also about the grit and determination it takes to pursue a passion.

As a first-generation college graduate, T.Barb’s academic journey was more than a pursuit of knowledge; it was a quest for self-discovery and empowerment. “Education was a gateway for me,” she shares, reflecting on her path from the classroom to the comedy stage. “It was the culture, the networking, the learning… everyday life skills that I didn’t have.”

T.Barb’s education not only equipped her with the practical skills necessary for her career pivot—such as public speaking—but also instilled in her a profound sense of self-confidence and the ability to navigate fear. “Being a social worker also helped me because I was in situations constantly where I was fearful. So now I may be afraid to go on stage, but I know how to handle and walk and work through my fear.”

Her versatility, a product of her diverse experiences—from growing up in poverty-stricken situations to achieving academic success—allows her to connect with a wide range of audiences. “I’m from the hood, so we got that… check. I’m educated, so then we can switch to that… check,” she says, highlighting her ability to adapt her comedic style to resonate with different demographics.

T.Barb carries a legacy of laughter in her veins, one that traces back to the vaudeville era of her great grandparents, Butterbeans and Susie. “Hell, yeah, they were surprised,” T.Barb says of her family’s reaction to her career pivot to comedy. “Here I am thinking, you all ex-convicts, and I’m telling you something cool that happened.” Her humor, as it turns out, is a family heirloom, polished by her own life’s trials and triumphs.

The story of Jodie “Butterbeans” Edwards and Susie Edwards, a husband-and-wife duo better known as Butterbeans and Susie, tells of pivotal figures in the tapestry of early American entertainment, yet their contributions have often been overshadowed by the passage of time. Their journey together began in 1917, weaving humor, dance, and song into performances that delighted audiences for decades. Beyond their stage presence, they made significant strides in the recording industry, laying down tracks for Okeh Records between 1924 and 1930 that were peppered with their trademark comic banter and bluesy tunes. Their collaboration with Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five in 1926 on the mildly salacious blues number “He Likes It Slow” stands as a testament to their versatility and influence in the music world.

In 1960, their talents were immortalized on vinyl with an album issued on King Records’ Festival label, marking a significant milestone in their career. Despite their prolific output and the role they played in discovering and mentoring Moms Mabley, an iconic figure in Black stand-up comedy, Butterbeans and Susie’s legacy remains largely unsung. Their careers unfolded during an era when Black vaudeville performers faced immense racial restrictions, yet they managed to carve out a space for themselves and leave an indelible mark on the entertainment landscape. Their story is a poignant reminder of the resilience and creativity of artists who thrived against the odds, yet did not receive the recognition they deserved.

T.Barb, like her great grandparents, is taking a journey that is punctuated by bold choices, like the day she decided to quit her job and, in her words, “tell jokes and sell hot dogs.” Yes, she has a hot dog cart, but that’s just one of the many hats she wears. “My family was like, this girl is a nut job,” she laughs, but beneath the humor lies a profound truth: her path has given her son courage and shown her family that she’s capable of achieving anything she sets her mind to.

T.Barb’s veganism is another facet of her life that she weaves into her comedy, a discipline that has brought her focus and clarity. “I have a few vegan jokes that are naughty,” she teases, inviting audiences to her show for a taste of her humor. Her vegan journey began two months before her comedy, a transition from vegetarian to pescatarian to strict veganism over a year and a half. “It opened up another lane for me,” she says, speaking of her vegan cookbook, “The Hood Rat Kitchen,” and her mission to bring veganism to the forefront.

Balancing her roles as a comedian, actress, author, producer, and mom, T.Barb emphasizes the importance of time management, multitasking, and self-care. “I prioritize working out, getting that time in by myself,” she explains, detailing how she incorporates her son into her life and work, ensuring that her presence is felt in his life, even if it’s just for a moment during a concert.

As a motivational speaker, T.Barb’s core message is one of perseverance and potential: “You don’t have to stay where you start.” She encourages young women and girls to never give up, to understand that life is a gift, and to pursue their dreams with relentless determination.

Looking to the future, T.Barb aspires to leave a legacy of breaking generational curses, demonstrating that hard work pays off, and living life authentically. “I want to show people what it’s like to be authentically you,” she says, hoping to inspire others to share their stories and talents with the world.

Beyond the laughter, T.Barb is deeply committed to using her platform for social good. Through her nonprofit, T.Barb and Friends, she leverages her celebrity to support underprivileged children in the metro Detroit area, providing hygiene kits and feeding the homeless. “I use my celebrity and my comedy for that,” she explains, underscoring her belief in the power of comedy to not only entertain but also to enlighten and uplift.

Along with several dates across Michigan, T.Barb will bring her unique blend of humor and heart to Windsor’s Club 9 Banquet Hall for Ford City Funnies on February 24. The local comedy series is donating a portion of the proceeds of this show to the Amherstburg Freedom Museum. It’s an opportunity for audiences to experience the comedic stylings of a woman who has turned life’s challenges into punchlines and who believes deeply in the power of laughter. “There’s a reason I was so goofy. And it wasn’t to help kids, even though I’ve helped a lot of kids, it was to make the world laugh,” T.Barb states.

Visit her online at www.tbarbisfunny.com.


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