How literal is the title to your show, Blind Ambition?
My eyesight has always been just poor—I'm blind in my left eye and have very limited vision in my right. In 2009, I was backed into a corner: I could have two surgeries that might repair some of the damage in my right eye or I could go completely blind. Fortunately, the surgeries worked. When I got off the operating table, I looked down and saw my shoelaces. I'd never seen my shoelaces before without glasses or contact lenses. It was amazing—I felt like I'd won a war with the weakest thing about me. It made me expose and talk about my vulnerabilities. I started talking about these procedures onstage, and it was like a lightbulb went off. People really related to it.
You got your start in Seattle—tell me about it.
I was raised in Las Vegas with my mom and four sisters, but I always wanted a relationship with my old man. I'd never met him—just had a picture of him lying in bed with an Afro and huge sideburns. He was a pimp. So I traced him to Beacon Hill when I was 18 and ended up living in Seattle for seven years.
During that time, I attended Shoreline Community College—I had big dreams about being a basketball star. One night my girlfriend and I got into a big fight; she said I dreamed big and pushed me to do something about it. I was walking home from her place and saw an open mic night [advertised] at the Comedy Underground. I always thought I could tell a story. I've talked about the dynamics of being raised between a strong matriarch and a pimp. So I walked in there, got onstage, and did really well. I knew that night that I'd found my career. The Seattle comedy community had the most impact on that career; it's where I learned the fundamentals.
Blind Ambition denotes a limitless desire to succeed. Are there limits in comedy?
There's nothing off-limits for me to find humor in. If you have skills, you can make anything funny. For me, personally, I want to inspire by being a whole human being onstage. I'll tell you about the most fragile things about me. I'm human; I mess up a bunch. I think that comedians should strive to make everyone feel a whole range of emotions—those are great human moments. And I want them in my show.