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Illinois Comedian Featured In "Funny Girls"

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courtesy of Oxygen
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Springfield native Calise Hawkins will be featured in Funny Girls, a new comedy series premiering tonight on the Oxygen channel. Starring six female comics, it’s part reality show, part stand-up showcase, and -- unlike a lot of things on television these days -- it’s not a competition.

“We’re not in this to bash each other and, like, step on each other," Hawkins says. "We’re just living our lives and being in the same field at the same time."

What made her think she could do this?

“That’s actually a very good question, because this is not the kind of field that I see much representation from women," Hawkins says. "You see the famous people; you see the stars. And you can’t get into a field going 'I’m going to be a star.' That would really be stressful to think I have to be the star.

"So when I was in New York, me and my ex-boyfriend used to go around to comedy clubs all the time. And then one time I saw this girl, Marina Franklin, and she was like killing on stage, just as hard as I’ve seen any guy do. And I’d never heard of her before," Hawkins says. "So when I saw her doing it, she was my instant role model. To see somebody struggling, and being funny, and being unknown, and this was her job, I was like oh my god, that’s something I want to try! I wanna try to be that person.”

Hawkins has an 8-year-old daughter, Asha, who also appears on the show. Her mission is to keep the reality segments real.

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Credit Courtesy of calisehawkins.com
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Hawkins' daughter, Asha, appears in the reality portion of "Funny Girls."

“Once I saw a couple of things she was in," Hawkins says, "I was like, 'Oh no, maybe she’s going to be an actress.' And I asked her, I said, ‘Do you want to be an actress?'  And she’s like, ‘No! At my school they call it drama. I don’t want no drama!’ “

Out of the six “Funny Girls,” Hawkins is the only one with a kid.  

“People keep saying, 'It’s unbelievable that you’re a single mom and you’re doing comedy. That’s so bold and you’re so amazing.' No! It’s a perfect schedule for a kid," Hawkins says.

 

"Say I go out at 8 for a 9 o’clock show. She’s already in bed with the babysitter. Right? She’s asleep. She’s not missing me. She wakes up early in the morning... This used to be my process. I would come pick her up at the babysitter, first thing in the morning. I would get her ready for school, get her some breakfast, walk her to school. She’s in school all day. I’m sleeping. Right? Going to the gym and sleeping.

 

"Then she’s getting out of school. I go get her, I do homework with her, we have dinner. By the end of the night, I take her back to the babysitter after she’s bathed and she’s showered and fed, she goes to sleep, I go do comedy.

 

"Now, don’t get me wrong. The budget is terrible. And I get really worried about money all the time, because like we said earlier, comedy doesn’t pay, until you’re getting like the benefits and the perks, like being on a show or something.”

 

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Credit Courtesy of calisehawkins.com
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Calise Hawkins in 5th grade. She attended Harvard Park Elementary.

Before she got cast on “Funny Girls,” Hawkins supported herself by writing sketches for television shows, hosting

 showcases in comedy clubs, and renting out her living room.

 

“For the first time, I have no roommate. She just moved out this past month," Hawkins says. "And so we still call

 it Alyssa’s room. Like I go, ‘Oh, put that in Alyssa’s room.’ It’s like the living room. That’s the Alyssa room. It’s always going to be the Alyssa room.”

 

Click the link above for more of our interview with Calise Hawkins, and to hear what her favorite high school teacher remembers about her.

 

Click below for an audio version of THIS story

 

2015_04_07_calise345.mp3
More Calise -- the woman that autocorrect wants to re-name Valise

After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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