Cadoushka Jean-Francois is your closest Haitian friend. You are a non-Haitian Creole speaker and ask her to teach you some Haitian Creole to use on a wealthy Haitian-American boyfriend you’re trying to pimp for nails did and hair did money. Cadoushka teaches you a phrase that she assures you will make your wealthy Haitian boyfriend not only pay for your nails and hair, but all your bills and expenses. But when you try out the phrase on the urban Croesus, he hangs up on you disgusted and repulsed. What could have gone wrong? You did rehearse the phrase over and over. Perhaps it was your pronunciation…or…
And what about that time when the two of you go out to dinner to a posh Haitian restaurant, and Cadoushka refused to split the bill? She didn’t order much. And the way she carries herself at work is another matter of huge concern. She caters to her own brand of customer service! You would never recommend her for a position at your job, that’s for sure. She’s snappy, snarky, and just plain crass, and she would be bound to tactlessly share intimate details of your life with your co-workers. With friends like Cadoushka Jean-Francois, who needs enemies?
It’s a good thing that Cadouskha isn’t a real person. Well, phew! She’s the alter ego of Haitian-American comedienne Jessie Woo, and a huge cause of guffaws and laughter all over. Is Cadoushka an amalgam of Haitian moms? Who is her persona based on? Just how did Jessie Woo develop her comedic style? Who are her inspirations? Well…read on!
Kreyolicious: What was your Haitian-American experience like?
Growing up in Miami, I was teased a lot in grade school for being Haitian. I heard a lot of things about myself that I wasn’t aware of like, “Haitians eat cat” or “Haitians are dirty and poor”. I would go home and ask my mom why these kids would say these things. She always taught me that miseducation was the reason for a whole lot of these comments. She taught me that being Haitian was and is a privilege and that people hate what they do not understand.
Kreyolicious: When you were in high school, were you the class funny girl?
I was always the silly girl getting written up for misconduct in school because I did not understand what “sit down and be quiet” meant. [Laughter]
Kreyolicious: Who gave you the nickname Jessie Woo?
My favorite red lipstick is Ruby Woo from Mac. I like to mix it up with other colors and call it Jessie Woo. That is where I got the name.
Kreyolicious: Lucille Ball, a comedian from the 1950s was reportedly inspired by Carole Lombard, a comedy actress from the 1930s. Who are your inspirations?
Jamie Foxx is my idol when it comes to being an all around entertainer. The man is a sketch comic, stand-up comedian, a writer, producer, he can write a jingle for your sitcom while being the lead actor in it simultaneously. Jamie Foxx is a musician who can also be a serious Oscar-winning actor. He does so many things yet he excels at everything he does. He is everything I hope to be and more. Jessie Foxx, that’s the goal!
Kreyolicious: Is Cadouska Jean-Francois your uber-sassy and snappy alter ego based on an actual person?
Cadoushka is me, honestly. She is that side of me that is not afraid to say what I really want to say how I want to say it. This has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years with work, friends and family. [Laughter] Naturally, as I have gotten older I have learned to sensor myself, but I am Cadoushka, she is me. [Laughter]
Kreyolicious: Fan reaction is always strong for your skits. What inspires most of your story lines?
All of my story lines are things that I have personally been through. I am making fun of myself. I am making fun of my childhood and current experiences.
Kreyolicious: Do you visit Haiti frequently?
I have not been to Haiti recently. It has been over 10 years. Growing up, I would go frequently with my mother and grandmother. My grandmother would take me to see family but my mother would take me for missionary reasons. We would go to give back to children and mothers in need. I look forward to continuing that.
How did you like PART I of the interview with Jessie Woo! There’s more to come. Be sure to be on the look-out for PART II. Meanwhile…
CLICK HERE to visit and watch videos on Jessie Woo’s Youtube channel.
CLICK HERE to read interviews with other Haitian-American comedians.