By JR Valrey, The Minister of Information
What interests me most about Ms. Ninja is her ability to transform into people before your very eyes, similar to the great comedian Eddie Murphy, as can be seen on her live skits on Tik Tok and IG. Her skits remind me of the comedy that was done on the legendary tv shows “In Living Color” and on “The Richard Pryor Show”.
Black comedy is different from white slapstick comedy because it has the silver-lining of oppression wrapped around it, and many times we have to laugh to not cry or want to fight about the situation. Black comedy in the U.S., for Black people, is a pressure release valve that helps us to survive another day, when we are hated for just existing, and our realities are near apocalyptic in a racist society.
The half Black-half Japanese, Ms. Ninja is a stand up comedian whom I met at the Laughter is Medicine Comedy Show at the now defunct Compound, in East Oakland. Until I interviewed her, I did not know that I was in the audience on her very first attempt at doing stand-up, which was at the end of the ‘21 summer. It definitely did not look as if it was her first time on stage, considering that veteran comedians bombed that night, but Ms. Ninja held her on. Since then, I’ve caught her onstage a few times and she regularly makes me laugh at her reactions, as well as the scenarios that she gets herself into. As the Covid pandemic hastens the crumbling of capitalist society, I wanted to introduce Black New World Media readers to somebody who sees it as their job to make us laugh. Check out Ms. Ninja in her own words.
JR Valrey: How long have you been recording your comedy skits? What made you start to take it seriously and do it consistently?
Ms Ninja: I remember seeing an ad for Tik Tok, and I thought that it looked pretty fun. I downloaded it and just had fun with it. I started to take it more seriously once I started to gain followers fairly quickly, and people were looking for videos from me. But it really made me want to keep going when I started to get messages from people saying that when they are having a bad day, they go to my page and it makes them feel a little better, or some would leave a comment saying “I was having such a bad day. I needed this, thank you”. That’s when I learned that laughter really is medicine. I thought it was just something I did to heal, but there were more people that needed it, and I was able to take part in their healing. I’m happy even if it’s just for a moment, and that alone started to motivate me to be more consistent, which eventually led me to other paying jobs and opportunities.
JR Valrey: What is the story behind you becoming a standup comedian, a few months ago, at the Laughter is Medicine Comedy show at the Compound?
Ms. Ninja: I was invited to a comedy show by my friend’s acquaintance the day before. Just out of curiosity I asked how people sign up for shows, and he asked if I was interested and I said I was just curious. By this time, I had some comedian friends who had suggested that I try stand-up, but I wasn’t sure if I was funny enough for the stage and a crowd. The next night we went to the show, and he introduced me to Stella and just randomly said “She’s a comedian and she’s really funny”. I was like “What?! You don’t even know anything about me!” because I literally met him the day before when he invited us to the show! Stella pressed me about trying it, and we exchanged numbers. It took a day, but I texted her and said okay, I’ll try it. I have been at it ever since. I am grateful for that man’s assumptions and trust in me being funny, and Stella for pressing, after hearing this man’s blind faith in a complete stranger!
JR Valrey: What inspires your jokes?
Ms. Ninja: My jokes come from my real life stories. I have always been a very curious person and loved to watch people’s reactions, so much that I sometimes get myself into situations that I should get out of, and never do. At least not soon enough. I feel that I was created with the level of curiosity, so I can have plenty of content for when the time comes to do comedy.
JR Valrey: How does doing comedy make you feel?
Ms. Ninja: It makes me feel like I am untouchable, and it brings me so much joy, especially after I do well. Generally I suffer from self sabotaging thoughts, and it is a constant battle between my natural negative thoughts versus my forced positive thoughts. When I get on stage, it is the one place where I can tell my stories and say “Hey, sh** happens and it’s okay. Everybody’s got something and here’s mine. Let’s laugh about it together”. Others can laugh at things I’m worried about, then I can too. Also I’m probably not as bad as I think I am. I have to admit, it is quite therapeutic.
JR Valrey: Who are some of the local comedians who have taken you under their wing?
Ms. Ninja: The top two that have taken me under their wing are Ricco Da Great and Jerry Law. They are comedians that have opened for many great comics with big names. Jerry teaches me a lot when it comes to how the comedy world is, and what he wished he knew when he was coming up. Ricco helps me a lot when it comes to tightening up my delivery, in my set. He’s constantly giving constructive criticism and suggestions while still respecting my style of comedy. Ricco was the main person to help calm me down right before my very first set. Jerry has taught me the game in comedy, all the way from verbal definitions to networking. I feel very lucky to know both of them at this time, where guidance is most important.
JR Valrey: What are some of your favorite venues to rock the stage at? Why?
Ms. Ninja: I don’t know if I have a favorite venue as of yet. For now, I appreciate any stage that has an audience that is there to listen to the comics. Whenever the shows are at a bar, it is quite tough because you have to fight for their attention and learn how to be aggressive on the mic. It does build character and helps build strategies for when you start to lose the crowd, on a regular stage. At the end of the day, my favorite place to perform is in front of a willing crowd.
JR Valrey: How would you describe your comedy?
Ms. Ninja: Comedy is the safe space for all of the issues in this world. With the right strategy and delivery, you can speak on many different topics and bring some type of humor out of any situation. I have done it about my grandfather’s passing, and spoke a little bit about my past being in a domestically violent relationship. Finding humor in terrible situations and speaking it to the crowd is important because you will find that there are people that can relate to your story; even if just for that moment, you can make them feel like they are not alone in that situation or trauma. That’s why it kills me that so many people are always offended as often as they are, as if it’s a hobby. It’s like they are asking the rest of the world to only see the darkness, then they wonder why the numbers of people with depression and anxiety have grown as much as it has. Comedy is important. Comedy is not the cure, but it’s the ointment for everyone’s wound.
JR Valrey: What do you have going on comedy-wise over the next few months?
Ms. Ninja: I book as I go. I have a show every Wednesday, and on most Thursdays I am on stage with Laughter is Medicine Comedy show. Since I am so new, everything gets booked as I go. When I get booked, I post the information on my Instagram stories.
JR Valrey: You were telling me that you are also an actress, what’s going on with that?
Ms. Ninja: I shoot music videos with local artists. Lately I have been working a lot with an upcoming music label called BFA, which has many upcoming artists. Now I am working on a schedule to start shooting skits with Vaughn Visuals, a videographer, who shoots a lot of music videos for local artists as well as he does photoshoots. I am so looking forward to it, and can’t wait to share it with the world.
JR Valrey: How can people stay online with you?
Ms. Ninja: You can find me on Tik Tok and Instgram @ms.ninjasama where I post all of my content and instagram stories, as well as this is where I post my upcoming comedy shows and fliers!