Yvonne Orji’s ‘Momma I Made It’ is the First Gen Immigrant Kid’s Survival Guide

The Immigrant Kid Survival Guide

Listen, I know a lot of folks came to this stand-up looking for Molly from Insecure. That’s not what you’re going to get here; but trust me, I beg you to stay for the whole ride. We begin the standup as every lit black function should, with bomb music and a grand entrance. Yvonne Orji’s Momma I Made It is the stand-up that Black, first generation immigrant children have been waiting for. Seeing Yvonne Orji bring her culture forward felt refreshing because it was talked about honestly and responsibly. Her storytelling skills are impeccable as you travel through the stories on stage, and then you’re placed in her world as she introduces viewers to her family.

I knew immediately what was about to go down once she brought up those Nigerian Prince emails. Orji lulled us in with something we can all relate to, and allowed this to serve as a catalyst for the world she was going to immerse us in. This was a necessary stand up that showed off Orji’s artistic prowess as a storyteller. Watching every second felt like you were in the room with her, whether she was clowning her parents or showing off her haggling talents, what made this an excellent stand up was the fact that we never left the scene without her taking you by the hand.

Are You Talking to Me? A Whole Me?

The most powerful part about Momma I Made It is that it allows black viewers to flaunt their heritage. The merger between the black experience in two different continents, living as a black person in America and as a black person in Nigeria comes with its own experiences. When Orji speaks about being submerged in these cultures, she tackles it in a way that makes you reminisce on the cookouts. Orji perfectly captured the subtle heat while playing taboo with family back from your hometown, versus when you play with friends you’re surrounded by now. Honoring the truth by including the quips and the eye-rolls.

Throughout various sections of her routine, you’ll be able to tap your homie and be like, “Aye, bruh she talkin’ bout you” because black folks know at least one of these people in their lives. Whether you’re the hood taboo homie, the expert haggler, the one with the extra strict parents reflecting their hopes and dreams onto you, or maybe all three? What’s great about this routine is that there something you can relate to without utilizing stereotypes and caricatures.

See? We’ve Been Telling the Truth the Whole Time!

Whenever people hear stories about the situations our parents, most people assume they are exaggerated. Sitcom worthy punchlines is a regular occurrence in households like this. Momma I Made It successfully captured the transition from your parents proclaiming that you will be a doctor or engineer the minute you’re born, the minute they figure out that you’re not going to follow that path, and finally when you reach where you want to be.

There is a beautiful transition that happens when you realize your immigrant parents are proud of you. Reflected in the title of Momma I Made it, Yvonne Orji’s routine is an ode to the come up. It’s the moment you watch yourself get the recognition from all that hard work and now you got enough flames that your family gas you up too. There is something about seeing a Nigerian woman who had to fight through the struggles of having her parents misunderstand her dreams and seeing her talk about her struggle through the thicket is not only an inspiration to the ones still fighting for their dreams, but also a testament to those who secretly still search for that validation.

An Ode to Growth

We don’t hear about that “My momma wanted me to be a doctor, but I became a successful actress and comedian” story enough from black folks. We don’t hear enough about the stories where our parents wouldn’t allow us to see other kids if their grades weren’t as high as ours. The “you better start overachieving now” or else you’ll amount to nothing, so now you have to push harder on everything you do, even if you’ll need therapy for it later. Viewers can laugh about the gray area, and also start the discussion of healing and what does that look like? How does this trauma leak into different aspects of our relationships and perception of the world around us?

Momma I Made It is a fun and truthful look at culture and how our experiences have created a hard working generation that is consistently learning how to dissect their tribulations. Orji’s background in comedy comes in full force and takes you on a trip. With her beautiful storytelling skills paired along with the sneak peaks into her life back in motherland, viewers are given a lesson on love and community. I can’t wait to see the stories Orji will bring to her audience in the future. Black women need diverse stand-ups like Orji’s in the midst of a white dominated comedy world that survives on stereotypical assessments on other cultures in order to remain relevant.

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  • Khadjiah Johnson is a Caribbean-American writer and humor advocate who uses poetry and comedy as a leverage to empathize and uplift. Her work has taken her to Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Center, Apollo Theater, BET, Off-Broadway and many more! She hopes to use her talents to sway her way into the writers room for a Late Night Comedy Show.

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