Bubbly, boisterous, vivacious. Niecy Nash exudes a zest for life that’s contagious. She came into the public eye on Comedy Central’s “Reno 911!" She was the energetic host of the Style Network’s successful home makeover show “Clean House.” She often offers the color commentary on “The Insider.” She added her humor on last season’s “Dancing With the Stars.” She’s also hosted award shows, played roles in several movies, and had guest spots on numerous television series. Wherever Niecy lands, she adds a spark of excitement, a certain joie de vivre.
Considering that our lives and personalities are shaped by the events that we experience, Niecy’s outlook and aura could have been totally different—many people in her situation would have buried themselves in sorrow, but she refused to do anything but
embrace life with gusto.
Niecy Nash, a confident and hilarious lady, is also a survivor of domestic violence. She and her brother witnessed their mother take a shot from a sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun. It was their mother’s boyfriend, who’d already abused their mother emotionally and physically over and over again, who tried to end their mother’s life and pulled the trigger. Niecy’s mom survived the shooting, but she was not the only one injured by it.
Her children took something away from that experience and walked away with their own personal scars. But Niecy, who was always funny as a child, had her humor to guide and protect her through the pain and hurt.
She even used the humor to disguise her own intense pain. If you make everyone around you laugh, they think you’re laughing, too. And you can sometimes forget yourself that you’re not laughing at all.
But it would be years before Niecy was able to face the fact that she’d never dealt with her mother’s shooting. She’d hardly had a chance to process the experience when her brother was gunned down on his high school campus, and her mother went into a severe depression, crawling into bed determined never to get up.
Niecy found her first audience in her severely depressed, bed-ridden mother. She made her first stage at the foot of her mother’s bed, where she gave the only gift she felt she had to offer—humor.
“When someone is suffering, you bring the best of yourself. I didn’t have money for my brother’s funeral. I couldn’t cook for all the people that came by. I had one trick in my bag, and that was it.” Humor was her gift.
Every day she visited her mom after that tragic death, she performed. Her mother went from laying down, to sitting up. One day Niecy arrived and her mom was no longer in her bedroom. She’d gotten out of bed to prepare the house in anticipation of her daughter’s hilarious visits and gathered up a few neighbors. They sat in the living room waiting to hear the funny daughter they’d heard so much about. And a career was born.
Niecy says, “I didn’t walk through the emotional cost [of seeing her mother abused and then shot and dealing with her brother’s passing] until I was a grown woman. I didn’t look at that and peel the layers of the onion back until I was almost 30.” What she found when she peeled the onion was hurt and pain.
She says people often want to live their lives avoiding feeling pain, but you can’t—pain is a necessary part of life. “If you stuff it down, it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s gonna come up. You might as well deal with it and move on instead of delaying the inevitable.”