Tiffany Haddish Said “What Had Happened Was” During Her Will And Jada Swamp Trip Story And Now I’m In Love » VSB

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Tiffany Haddish Said “What Had Happened Was” During Her Will And Jada Swamp Trip Story And Now I’m In Love

YouTube screenshot via Jimmy Kimmel Live


According to Clover Hope, Aisha Harris, and other people I trust, Girls Trip is apparently the raunchy and randy comedy we didn’t know we were waiting for and wanted until it was here. (Basically, it’s the iPad of comedies.) And this makes me happy and shit, as it apparently 1) proves (again) that Malcolm Lee is Hollywood’s most underrated director, 2) gives Queen La, Jada, and Regina Hall the type of roles they deserve, 3) reintroduces the world to Larenz Tate (who apparently rode off on his bike with Nina at the end of Love Jones and said “fuck y’all, I’m never coming back“), and 4) establishes Tiffany Haddish as a star.

The Tiffany Haddish thing is the most crucial here, because if not for her star turn, she wouldn’t be on a national press tour. And if not for her national press tour, she wouldn’t have been able to tell her story about taking Will and Jada on a Groupon swamp tour. (And we wouldn’t have learned that Jada didn’t know this was a public tour, and thought “Groupon” meant that Tiffany rented a boat to take a private group on. Because Will and Jada are not like you and me.) And if not for the Groupon swamp tour story, she wouldn’t have been able to introduce the world to the glory, beauty, utility, and majesty of “what had happened was” — which comes at the 28 second mark of the video.

Of course, those familiar with this hood-adjacent idiom know that when hearing those four words together, you’re usually either 1) about to hear an elaborate story or 2) about to hear a lie. (And sometimes both.) You do not follow “what happened was” with mundanity. No one says “What had happened was, I ate the Snicker. And then I went to bed.” Unless 1) you didn’t actually eat the Snicker (or go to bed) or 2) that Snicker was a special-ass Snicker. Like, that Snicker was on fire or sitting on Rihanna’s forehead or something. Then “what had happened was” would be appropriate.

But when you’re Tiffany Haddish, and you manage to convince Will and Jada to go traipsing through swamps and shit with you, the story about that trip deserves a “what had happened was” to introduce it.

Also, it’s not unimportant that what had happened was (a phrase that manages to be redundant twice in a four word span) exists in the same linguistic stratosphere as conversate (a popular word that’s not actually a word); as both also serve as some sort of respectability Rorschach test for Black listeners. I’m sure there will be some of us who’ll listen to Haddish’s interview and cringe at her using a phrase like that on national TV in front of so many White people. And it’s not because “what had happened was” is so terrible of a phrase. It (for some) just suggests that Haddish is a certain type of Black person from a certain type of background; in possession of a certain type of Blackness that certain types of Black people would rather not see on TV as representative of “us.”

If you are one of those people — or if you’re not one of those people, but you did feel an unease — you have to remind yourself that respectability is nothing but performative deodorant. Deodorant that doesn’t even work. Deodorant whose only purpose for existing is to show White people you know how to apply it. Tiffany Haddish obviously does know how to. No one as smart and talented as her would have made it as far as she has without possessing that knowledge. But she just doesn’t give a fuck about it, and chooses not to use it. And neither should you.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • Janelle Doe

    ok, she needs to do some GOT recaps on youtube and maybe HTGAWM whenever that starts up again…

    • Furious Styles

      I will watch all them sh#ts…

  • BM, President of Fuckery

    “What do you call a black doctor?”

    “A n*gger”

    Old Alabama proverb. Speak your speech. Forget all else. They’ll judge you for merely existing.

    • Junegirl627

      So Tiffany got all of us keeping it real in the comments huh?

      Sidebar: I said something similar to a puerto rican friend of mine when he was talking about moving to Texas. I told him be careful because they might hate mexicans more than blacks out there. He said “but i’m not illegal i’m Puerto Rican” So I said ” Guess what you call a Puerto Rican in Texas? A tall mexican!!! You ain’t special & we all look the same to the enemy so watch your back!”

      • miss t-lee

        I mean you told him right. Lots of these white folks think anyone with brown skin and an accent is Mexican.
        Reminds me of this scene from King of The Hill

        • yep

        • Jennifer

          Yep! And, if you live in one of the cities, they’ll call you Hispanic…even when you aren’t.

          • miss t-lee

            My bestie’s husband deals with this all of the time.
            Folks forever calling him Mexican, when he’s from Nicaragua.

        • Junegirl627

          Exactly! I say this to all the different (that’s not so different) black people to. We all look the same from far away so why you keep separating yourself? They can’t tell.

      • NonyaB?

        Bless his heart for thinking bigots actually verify their targets before projecting their bigotry on them.

  • nillalatte

    My kids and their friends were all the time using this idiom. I’ve heard it so much I was on the phone with some customer service rep explaining a problem and I said, “What had happened was…” He snickered before I realized what I said.

    That story though was awesome! I can envision Will getting in a hooptie and laughter ensues to the point I wouldn’t be able to drive.

    • Zil Nabu

      Those 4 words set the stage for so much.

  • Cosmic_

    She made me Google her after Keanu!!!
    You guys have to watch some of her stand-up clips on Youtube!
    I am excited to see more of her…. and I am starting tonight by watching Girls’ Trip

    • PetiteKBee

      That’s right! She was in Keanu. Doing the utmost.

  • Bruh this story killed me. I love her already

  • Janelle Doe

    “you gon’ buy a whole ecosystem?”
    LMBAO, lawd
    time of death – (and again soon after re-watching this video )

    • Tomesha Rene

      That was my favorite part!

  • Darkchloe144

    WOW, this was hilarious. She’s my kinda peoples.
    I like all of the actresses for the movie and I’m sure folks will like it. I just can’t deal with too much raunchy in one sitting without my stomach turning, so pass (or record it on TV so I can peruse accordingly). And I love the first Hangover movie, Tropic Thunder, and a bunch of other R comedies I’m probably forgetting.

  • MysteryMeat

    Her story blessed me. I love her

  • Junegirl627

    She is blowing up right now she got a write up in Vanity Fair

  • PriceIsRightHorns

    She was funny on “The Carmichael Show.” Now that it’s been canceled, I hope to see her in more projects.

    • miss t-lee

      She was hilarious.

      • PriceIsRightHorns

        Tiffany and David Alan Grier’s characters were my favorites.

        • miss t-lee


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