Funny Stuff: Comedian Chastity Washington

Sunday, 02 May 2010 08:42 Written by  Lealeah Livingston

Chastity Washington has been performing for nearly 20 years. She is a stand-up comedian performance artist, playwright, choreographer and Michael Jackson impersonator. Her work has spanned nightclubs, college campuses and theatres across the country. Outside of performing, she is a full-time high school and head start teacher and girls’ basketball coach.

At Jokes and Notes, a comedy club located on the Chicago’s south side, Washington had just cstepped off stage from giving an energetic and punch-line filled show, leaving the crowd still laughing.

GlossMagazineOnline (GMO): During the 20 years you’ve been performing, has there ever been a time where you wanted to quit?

Chastity: There have been moments when I’ve become stressed, but through the stress I kept [moving] on telling myself ‘NO, NO,’ (laughs). You know when you’ve gotten to the point where you’ve gotten so far, and you’re like ‘You can’t quit now.’ You just have to continue on.

GMO: What has it been like performing on comedy shows like HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival?

Chastity: Blessed; truly blessed to where I look to God and just say ‘Thank you.’ They’ve all been wonderful experiences because you get to meet so many people. You get to meet different comics, then you get to go to the after-parties and during it all you’re just like, ‘WOW, this is great!’ It’s sort of like a dream fulfilled when you get the chance to walk out onto stage and just do it. It’s been a really amazing experience, and I love being able to say that I have enjoyed every minute of it.

GMO: What made you start doing Michael Jackson impersonations? They were hilarious!

Chastity: I started doing them when I was probably around six or seven years old. I have and will always love M. J. and I wanted to implement that into my performances to give him homage, to show that [we] really appreciate his work.

GMO: In 10 more years, do you see yourself still doing comedy?

Chastity: Yes, definitely. I see [myself] doing, of course film and television, and everything God has in store for me while still doing stand-up. It’s great work- I enjoy giving joy to people, you know what I mean? People need that, to be able to relax. I can see myself doing this probably till it’s time for me to leave this earth.

GMO: Have there been any obstacles you’ve had to overcome as a black woman?

Chastity: Not really, I mean I’ve dealt with things in my personal life, things in my teenage years. Other than that, really I’ve just been blessed to have been able to grow and progress to the next plane of my life. It’s been a long journey and I’m grateful.

GMO: With your busy schedule, how do you find time to balance being a full-time high school teacher and basketball coach with traveling?

Chastity: Right, you know what, luckily this past fall things changed a little because the high school I was working for closed. So now I just have my coaching and head start teaching job. I love when I’m with the little kids, my babies, [laughs], but I’m glad it’s only in the evenings because it allows me to have more time to get rest. By my traveling increasing since October, I’m tired but having my kids and doing what all love makes it worth it. I’m sure to make time out for meditation and prayer and to stay up on taking care of my health. My schedule can get hectic, but I make it work for me.

GMO: How’s your family support?

Chastity: I’m blessed to have a good, loving family. Even though they haven’t been able to come out to everything, over the years they have continued to show their support. When they do come, my grandmother kinda doesn’t get it when I say I have a show [gives a whole-hearted laugh]. I could say, ‘Grandma, I have a show tonight’ and she just nods and says, ‘Oh yeah, that’s nice.’

GMO: Who’s your favorite comedian, and how do they inspire you?

Chastity: You know, I can’t say that I have just one. I would have to say Chris Tucker, Whoopi Goldberg, Eddie Murphy; all of them inspire me in different ways. They are all multi-faceted, and I love how they show their intelligence and precision through their work. When I was seven, I remember seeing Whoopi on television and saying, ‘Wow, that is so cool.’ I never knew that I was going to be a comic; I just knew that I loved to laugh and to make others laugh with me. I’ve been inspired by so many comedians and I respect their art.

GMO: Was there a place where you’ve performed that you were in utter disbelief the experience was actually happening?

Chastity: Probably Def Jam. I feel blessed to have been able to get on that stage and do my thing, but I feel that way every time I step on a stage.

GMO: What has been your most rewarding experience so far?

Chastity: The fact that people enjoy what I do, and how it touches them in a certain way. I love how they hear my jokes and want to go tell them to their friends. That, for me, is success.

GMO: Do you have a message for young black women coming in to the industry?

Chastity: Follow your heart and give it to God. You have to keep working and work hard to get what you want, and you’ll be able to look back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Lealeah Livingston

Lealeah Livingston

Freelance writer Lealeah Livingston is a junior at Columbia College Chicago, working toward her BA in Journalism in 2013. Although Lealeah loves to write about almost anything, she shares a particular love for the arts and health. She is also co-founder of Columbia College’s Her Campus Magazine.

She can be contacted at