Island joy: Haitian comedian brings hour-long special to Gowanus

Jenni Walkowiak
Red-y or not: TJ will record his hour-long record at Littlefield on Jan 3.

He’s come a long way for this show!

A Bedford-Stuyvesant comedian will record his first hour-long special next week, at Gowanus club Littlefield on Jan. 3. Tanael Joachim, who performs as TJ, grew up in Haiti, and says that his comedy resonates with those who have been through the immigration experience, but also offers Americans the perspective of an outsider looking in.

“A lot of immigrants like what I do, because I’m an immigrant and I speak to that community,” he said. “Americans also like it because I present a different experience.” 

TJ’s comedy often comments on things that may seem normal to Americans, but are strange to immigrants and visitors, such as Americans’ excessive consumerism, which he often contrasts with conditions in Haiti. In one bit, he examines the absurdity of thinking that “emotional eating” is a serious problem. 

“Do you realize what that means?” he asks. “That means you have so much food that you have food for specific feelings.” 

TJ said he has spent years preparing for this show, presenting the very best version of material he has been working on his entire career. 

“This is the first big set that I’m putting on record,” he said. “I really had to pick and choose what goes on the record.” 

The comic pokes fun at his homeland, but he is also the first to go to bat for it. After President Trump reportedly called Haiti a “s——- country”, TJ penned an op-ed for the New York Times in which he argues that the citizens of the island nation are the best humanity has to offer. 

After performing for years, TJ says he knows how to handle Brooklyn audiences, which he says can be more sensitive than audiences in other areas. 

“There’s this overriding thing like ‘Oh we can’t talk about this’ ” he said. “New people who moved to Brooklyn want to control the narrative.” 

He will share the stage at Littlefield with Patrick Schroeder, Reggie Conquest, and Mia Jackson, comedians he was worked alongside for years, he said. 

TJ at Littlefield (635 Sackett St. between Third and Fourth Avenues in Gowanus, www.littlefieldnyc.com). Jan. 3 at 8:30 pm. $10.