Familiar faces and places took center stage on a recent episode of NBC’s popular stand-up comedy show, Last Comic Standing, when South Williamsburg native Chloe Hilliard appeared to talk about her experiences growing up as an African-American girl in the largely Hasidic part of town.
“Growing up I didn’t see color,” said Hilliard, in part of her recorded monologue for the show. “I didn’t realize we were different until I got older. My family wasn’t the only African-American family, we were part of a handful. But I definitely felt like a part of the community even though I wasn’t Jewish because you took pride in your neighborhood.”
And while Hilliard was eventually eliminated from the show, her zeal to perform and entertain remains undeterred.
After working as a journalist for ten years, Hilliard caught the “showbiz bug.” Hoping to expand into Broadcast Journalism, she enrolled in a stand-up comedy class to help her think better on her feet and the rest, as they say, was history.
Comedy took over, leaving journalism in the backseat – at least for the time being. In September, Hilliard will mark four years as a professional comedienne.
In some ways, her new career is getting easier. As Hilliard gains experience and a following, she’s earned increased stage time allowing her to better develop her jokes. But the increased time has also heightened the challenge – adding pressure to write fresh material and expand on older jokes as her audience becomes more familiar with her work.
“The biggest challenge is knowing what you want to get out of it and sticking to a path where you see results,” she said. “The last eight months have been on warp speed for me, so now I have to focus on a bigger goal. The most rewarding is having someone come up to a show or find my work on the Internet and tell me how much they enjoyed my comedy.”
And what kind of reaction has Hilliard received from her South Williamsburg neighbors?
“None,” she said jokingly. “They don’t have TVs.”
Her work has certainly created a buzz in her community. Rabbi David Niederman, President of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, who made an appearance in a segment on Last Comic Standing about Hilliard’s background, expressed excitement for her blossoming comedic career.
“Chloe Hillard, a neighbor of mine, is 100 percent authentic South Williamsburg,” he said. “While her great talents are sending her across the country, I know that she will not forget her roots, and that is not only Williamsburg but South Williamsburg. We wish her great success.”
Hilliard is optimistic about her new career, in the wake of her Last Comic Standing success, and hopes to live up to some of her comedic idols, including Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Fey, and Dave Chappelle, artists she said “who take chances and aren’t afraid to go against popular thought.”
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