Date Of Birth: 06/04/1974
Born in Bethnal Green, East London, to a Nigerian family, Gina Yashere turned to comedy after working as a lift engineer.
She made her Edinburgh debut in 1995, and in 2000 completed her first stand-up tour, and has been regularly on the road ever since.
Her first TV exposure was as a regular on the BBC Two comedy show Blouse and Skirt (originally called The A Force) in 1996. Other TV credits Live at Jongleurs, The Comedy Store, Jo Brand's Hot Potatoes and talking heads shows such as the I Love...series for BBC Two. In 2001, she briefly hosted a BBC Choice chat show, Up Late With Gina Yashere and she provided the voice of Keisha Marie in the Channel 4 animated series Bromwell High
In 2007, she took part in the NBC reality show Last Comic Standing, giving her a foothold in the US. In 2008, she became the first British comic to appear on the influential black stand-up show Def Comedy Jam.
She has also branched out into acting, appearing in the films Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Mr In-Between, as well as in the West End show The Vagina Monologues.
She was named best female at the Black Comedy Awards in 2002, and nominated as best female stand-up in the Chortle awards the same year.
Gina Yashere Videos
Gina Yashere: Brighton Comedy Festival
Note: This review is from 2009
SHE'S five stone lighter and lives in the States now, but Gina Yashere's brand of comedy remains resolutely unchanged.
Posturing cheerfully in a pulled-up hoodie, she spits out her greetings like a pumped up performance poet before launching into a string of typical Yashere anecdotes: rap stars think they are so street but then they have chandeliers in their ‘cribs’, colonic irrigation is brilliant but – ew – so disgusting, black women don't like getting their hair wet. The audience relaxes in familiar territory.
Yashere is a shrewd entertainer and knows exactly what buttons to press to keep her audiences happy. With a little bit of politics, a little bit of the personal and a good smattering of knob gags, her pick 'n' mix material has something for everyone.
It's not hard to see why she has retained her position as ‘that woman off the telly’ or why she keeps getting flown to war zones to perform gigs for Our Boys. She is a formidable presence on stage, with a self-aware swagger that nips heckles in the bud. It certainly takes a confident performer to break from routine to confiscate an audience member's bleeping mobile phone and shove it down her pants.
All very slick but not exactly innovative. There is no doubt Yashere is capable of better - she hints at it now and then with a genuinely incisive observation or a flash of ad-libbed genius - but too often she falls back on the safe pay-offs, the middle-of-the-road material disguised as something more daring, those bloody impressions of her mum.
When the formula is so well received, it's not hard to see why she would be loathe to meddle with it, but it's a depressingly calculated approach to comedy.