“Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It!”. Picture: HBO
“Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It!”. Picture: HBO

'Momma, I Made It!' is the escapism we need right now

By Buhle Mbonambi Time of article published Jul 6, 2020

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Yvonne Orji runs onto the stage and starts dancing. The audience at Howard Theatre in Washington D.C. joins in. And I stand up, bust some moves, 'heying and hooing' along with the audience. 

I was happy. Like, really happy. It felt strange because I haven't been really happy since January this year. 

Seeing Yvonne and the predominantly black audience have the purest Black joy on their faces, just made me forget about the turmoil that the world is in right now. Well, at least for an hour. 

And it's with that energy that the "Insecure" actress and stand-up comedian, started her HBO comedy special, "Momma, I Made It!"

This is probably one of the Black-est comedy specials I have watched in recent years. 

By that I mean it's literally a special that is centered around and is for Black people. Yvonne makes no excuses for it and there is none to make, anyway. Like most comedians, she was going to tell funny anecdotes of her life that mostly only Black people will get. 

I knew that Yvonne was funny. Not because of her comedic timing on Insecure-where she plays the role of Molly, a lawyer and best friend of Issa Rae's character, Issa- but because of her podcast, "Jesus & Jollof" which she co-hosts with writer, Luvvie Ajayi. 

Both are Nigerian-American and they tell the funniest stories about growing up Nigerian in America, their parents, the expectations their parents have of them and life as a Black woman in America and Nigeria. It's a funny and relatable podcast that has become popular with many who relate to their lives. 

I feel "Momma, I Made It!" is a continuation of that and as a listener of Jesus & Jollof, I felt like I already knew the characters Yvonne was talking about on the special. 


You are going to laugh. Like, really laugh. And you will find yourself relating to a lot of her stories, especially how her mom is impossible to please.

 From her disappointment in Yvonne leaving college at pre-Med and pursuing a comedy career, to being proud of her success and telling everybody that her daughter has a show on HBO. 

Not bad for someone she once called a vagabond for being friends with Billy who wasn't a straight A student when Yvonne was. 

One of the cleverest things they did with this special, is showing Yvonne's trip to Nigeria, where we meet her parents, relatives, friends and also vox pop with people on the street and markets.  

There's a scene where she brings her parents the gifts she brought back for them, which include raisin bread, bagels and a Louis Vuitton bag for Mama Orji. 

While she appreciates the bag and is excited that it's real, she still asks what happened to the romaine lettuce she had asked for. 

Now, it doesn't get Blacker than that. It may be seen as her being unappreciative, but it's also her expecting to get some romaine lettuce and instead getting a designer handbag. "I love salad" she defends herself. 
It's not just about her parents and family, it's also about dating struggles, haggling to get better prices, how Yvonne is a miser and even the rudeness of Uber drivers. There are some moments where the jokes don't land, but Yvonne is quick to redeem herself with the next joke. Oh and she's wearing  boots that will have the fashion girls green with envy. 

"Momma, I Made It!" was an hour of me just laughing my lungs out and not thinking about Covid-19 and the mess the world has become. I really recommend it. 

*"Momma, I Made It!" is streaming on Showmax. 

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