Tiffany Haddish usually is the source of laughs when she performs standup comedy or stars in movies like Girls Trip and Nobody's Fool, but she's letting children have the punchline in Kids Say the Darndest Things. However, Haddish says this isn't a children's show.
"The show is not for kids," Haddish told reporters of the Television Critics Association in August. "The show is for adults and happens to have children on it."
Before Haddish, Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby hosted versions of Kids Say the Darndest Things in which they interviewed children. Haddish's comedy usually is raunchier than Cosby or Linkletter's, but she says Kids fits in with her advocacy for foster care.
"I'm an advocate for children, and this is right on brand for me," Haddish said.
In her book, The Last Black Unicorn, Haddish writes about spending time in foster care after her biological mother had an automobile accident.
"I always felt like I'm on an adventure," Haddish said. "I was moving from house to house. I was living with strangers and I looked at it as an adventure. I kind of hated it, too, but [I thought], 'This is making me stronger.'"
That's why Haddish believes what children have to say is important. She hopes adults will listen to the children on her show.
"Being in the foster care system and knowing what it's like to not be heard, now that I am an adult, I really feel that it's very important to hear children, to listen to them, to give them a place to talk," Haddish said. "If you're able to talk, you should be heard, period, no matter what you are."
Her sensitivity to children's issues serves Haddish well when she is interviewing youngsters on camera. She will ask kids to explain the rules of sports, how to use technology and even solicit dating advice.
"It's pretty easy for me to deal with kids because I talk to them like they're me, like a regular person, like how I would want somebody to talk to me," Haddish said. "And they relax instantly and they're like, 'Oh cool, she's not mean, she's not bossy. She cares.'"
Haddish said she does not have to say a lot to get the kids talking.
"One of my favorite things in the world is to just sit and talk to kids," Haddish said. "I ask maybe two questions, and then they just go. You learn so much from them."
Even though she is a grownup, Haddish remembers saying the darndest things herself when she was six, seven or eight years old. She said she wanted to be a horse farmer or work in a Snickers or beef jerky factory.
Everybody would be like, 'Why would you want to do those things?'" Haddish recalled. "I'm like, 'Because my grandma said, 'Do what you love' and I love horses. I love Snickers. I love beef jerky."
Linkletter was before Haddish's time, but when she signed to host Kids Say the Darndest Things, she did watch old footage of him.
"I definitely studied him. I loved all the different things that he did," Haddish said. "I've been studying comedy, though, since I was a little girl. I used to watch Red Skelton and Milton Berle and old vaudeville stuff. So that's probably why I am the way I am."
The Cosby iteration aired when Haddish was old enough to watch. She kept the live studio audience interview portions of Kids Say. In the new ABC version, Haddish also performs sketches with the kids.
"We did a thing where I broke up with my boyfriend, and he kept calling on the phone," Haddish said. "I got this little girl, she's talking to him for me, and we're going back and forth. Then I started crying, and she's like, 'It's going to be OK. Don't worry.' I don't even know her. We just met and she was taking care of me."
Kids Say the Darndest Things is only one of many items on Haddish's plate. She has the films Bad Trip and Like a Boss coming out. Her Netflix series Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready may get a second season and she has a stand-up special coming to Netflix.
She will co-star in the upcoming series Madam C.J. Walker, and TBS has renewed The Last O.G. or a third season. Haddish is happy to be busy, but also selective.
"[I'm] way more guarded about my time and making sure whatever I'm doing with my time is something that edifies me and others around," Haddish said.
Kids Say the Darndest Things airs Sundays at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC.
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