In the two years since joining The Daily Show, Jessica Williams has made quite an impact, putting together several great segments, and establishing herself as one of the best aspects of the show. Over the past year in particular, she’s looked like the next breakout correspondent. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of Jessica Williams best Daily Show moments so far.
When she schooled an army lieutenant about black hair.
Recently, the Army made some new regulations about what hairstyles were acceptable in the military. This proved to be a problem for black female soldiers, because it just so happens that the only hairstyles that are acceptable are the ones that take hours and hours to create. In this brilliant segment, Williams attempts to explain this problem to an army lieutenant — naturally, a white guy — who is not particularly sympathetic to this cause. She illustrates the point by taking him to a black hair salon, and having him identify hair products while blindfolded. The surprising thing is, he’s actually a bit receptive to everything she says. So, in addition to being hilarious, this segment might have actually made a difference.
When she described the problems faced by women in very frank terms.
In the wake of a campus rape epidemic in which many of the perpetrators received almost no punishment from their universities, Williams and Jordan Klepper give advice to young college students who plan to drink at parties. Williams makes the astute — and depressing — point that while the drunk frat boys may fear waking up with a penis drawn on their face, women face the much more serious threat of…well, you can see where this is going. Meanwhile, new guy Jordan Klepper does an admirable job as the dudebro straight man, spouting off the #NotAllMen type foolishness that allows these situations to proliferate.
When she exposed the real-life Hunger Games.
In late December, with the government sequester jeopardizing families on food stamps, Williams talks to a woefully out-of-touch — or perhaps just cruel — Forbes Magazine columnist who suggests that the SNAP program be done away with altogether. His basic point is that as long as poor people aren’t actually starving to death, we’re fine. In the tradition of great Daily Show segments, Williams lets the columnist’s idiocy speak for itself, rather than actually telling him how stupid he’s being. But the kicker comes at the end, when Williams notes that the talking points made by conservatives seem an awful lot like The Hunger Games, and thus, she decides to hold an actual hunger games using Manhattan school children. They fight over a juice box, and one of them apparently shoots an arrow into a turkey. As good of a satire of empathy-devoid fiscal conservatives as you’ll find.
When she asked a group of white people what they thought about racism
In particularly ingenious move, Williams and Samantha Bee both ask a group people how far along America has gotten towards ending racism. The twist? Williams talks to an all-white group, while Bee talks to an all-black group. The results are not particularly surprising — the white group feels like we’ve made a ton of progress, while the black group doesn’t think we’ve made any whatsoever, and that we may be actually going backwards. Both correspondents do a hilarious job of dealing with a painfully awkward situation, while hammering the point home that we still have a long way to go before racism won’t be a problem.
When she diagnosed Paula Deen with Type 2 Racism
When Paula Deen’s history of racism was revealed last year, a strong backlash took place, and Deen was fired from every TV gig she had. In spite of this, Williams was merciful, noting that Deen was suffering from either Type 1 or Type 2 racism. Type 1 being racism you inherit genetically, while Type 2 is the kind you develop on your own. Williams determines that Deen might be suffering from a bit of both. But all is not lost, as Williams prescribes a patch that can cure her racism. I’m not sure if I should type the name of that patch here, so you should probably just watch the video.