Sheryl Underwood has made her name as a funny woman. She’s a popular comedian and also a host on CBS’s The Talk, a position that she’s occupied since 2011. Viewers have gotten to know her pretty well over the past few years. But even those who love her sense of humor might not realize just how hard she had to struggle to get where she is. Indeed, Underwood’s story is a complicated and painful one.
Underwood broke into comedy at a time when it was hard for a woman to do so – and even harder for a black woman. “For me, how my career progressed was that if you’re not going to hire me, I’m going to do comedy anywhere I can, until everybody is talking about that girl Sheryl Underwood,” she told the LA Times in a July 2017 interview.
And she did. In college, she participated in a “Funniest Woman in Fresno” competition. After graduating, she joined the military, a decision that provided material for her later work. In 1989 she became the first female finalist on the Miller Lite Comedy Search, which brought her to the public’s attention. Further success followed in the ensuing years.