13 Hall of Fame Jokes and Moments from Janelle James

From the schoolyard to the stage, the ‘Abbott Elementary’ star is going to find a way to make us laugh
13 Hall of Fame Jokes and Moments from Janelle James

If you’re a regular, or even one-off, viewer of Abbott Elementary, you’ve laughed at the self-centered antics of Principal Ava Coleman, as depicted by Janelle James. You’ve then immediately thought, “Where the hell has Hollywood been hiding her all these years?”

The thing is, James has been a stand-up standout since she started in 2009, building her way up over the last 15 years to become a veteran comedian and a go-to writer for Black Monday and Central Perk. When she landed the role of Principal Coleman, it finally showcased what many people had known for years: Janelle James was the truth.

So to honor the woman whose comedy spans from the schoolyard to the stage, we’ve gathered up some of James’ top jokes and moments for our Comedy Hall of Fame.

On Naps

“I had a good nap. It was in an Uber. That’s how I like to nap — drive me around like a toddler.”

On Jeff Bezos’ Trip to Space

James points out how going to actual outer space is much different than what the chairman of Amazon experienced and has the facial expressions to prove it.

On Therapy

“Black people go to therapy. We just started last year, it’s brand new. We in there, with the healin’ and the cryin’ and whatnot. I went to a couple sessions. But it just made me feel like I was paying a lot of money to tell this lady, ‘Look, you going to need to mind your damn business.’”

On Nancy Reagan’s ‘Throat GOAT’ Title

When forgotten rumors of the former first lady’s fellatio game resurfaced on Twitter in late 2021, James was just as stunned as the rest of us.

On Being Serenaded

“I don’t know who told men that singing to women is romantic. What are you supposed to do with your face when someone is singing into your soul? Two verses and a bridge?!?! Let me out of this room!”

Dressed as Storm in ‘Abbott Elementary’

James’ Ava was able to conjure lightning while throwing shade as she donned the X-Men costume for the Halloween episode.

On Her Son’s Realization About Movie Concessions

James recounts her 13-year-old son’s revelation about how expensive it is to buy popcorn and soda at the movies while she sits back and enjoys the epiphany.

On a Racist’s Lack of Imagination

James discusses an interaction with a Twitter troll who called her a “gorilla” and called him out about how impressive it would be if an actual gorilla was answering tweets in English.

Her Intro in ‘Abbott Elementary’

With her character’s first appearance in Quinta Brunson’s show, audiences got James’ entire deal within two minutes of her star-making role.

On Regret

“I wish I had done more with my 20-year-old titties. I feel like more people should have seen them. Wasted ’em. I see these girls on Instagram getting paid; I could have gotten a Maserati right now.”

On Assimilation

“I lived in the Midwest; those are cornfield whites. Trying to assimilate there, rode on a pickup truck. I ate casseroles with Triscuits on it. Shit like that, that’s how I reach out a hand. Went to a bonfire. Did you know that shit’s just a fire?” 

Teaching Children How to Hustle in ‘Abbott Elementary’

Ava has some less-than-ethical sales tactics she’s eager to teach the students for their fundraiser.

On Facing Her Multiverse Selves During Auditions

James goes into details about auditioning and gets real about how you encounter every version of yourself, along with finding out she reacts to seeing her dead baby the same way as she would when she can’t find her favorite shoes.

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