Give comedian Meshelle (real name: Meshelle Foreman Shields) an audience—any audience—and she’ll give them an earful, cracking wise on politics, her three young kids, and feminism. Today, we give her an audience with the Baltimore Grill.
Who is your favorite Baltimorean, living or dead? Jada Pinkett Smith.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made? Sleeping with bubblegum in my mouth!
What is the greatest problem facing Baltimore today? Covert classism and racism.
What is the best advice you ever got? Live my dream. And never underestimate the mental health status of anyone.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? Quit my Ph.D. after three years to pursue a career in stand-up comedy and acting. (Got married and had three kids in the process!)
When were you most tempted to leave Baltimore? I’m always traveling, so I’m more tempted to stay.
What is your guilty pleasure? Screaming obscenities into an empty Pringles can.
If you could write Baltimore’s motto, what would it be? The little city that . . . will!
Let’s talk about your kids: Do you get a lot of material from them? That’s why I had them all naturally with a midwife and cameraman/husband in tow. I was running low on bits and they provide an endless saga.
Do you run your material past them? Your husband? All of the above. My husband LaMarr Darnell Shields is brilliant and witty and truthfully funnier (at times) than me. My kids’ innocence provides a barometer for the really family-friendly material.
Where else does your material come from? Women’s issues, dating, politics, and tales of my childhood departure from Baltimore City to the so-called greener pastures of the northwest suburbs.
What’s it like onstage when you have the audience in the palm of your hand? The closest thing to what I imagine a self-induced “rush” from some synthetic stimulant would render.
And what’s it like to bomb? Falling down the rabbit hole . . .
What advice would you give to other women who are trying to balance motherhood and a career? Have a tried-and-true support system, and it must begin at home. Stay spiritually centered.