Judaea Driscoll used to lie about her age and sneak in to perform at open mic nights at P&H Cafe on Madison. It was just who she was, Richard Douglas Jones, a fellow comedian in Memphis, said.
She would buck the system until she was eventually called on it.
Whenever she got on stage, she would start with “I am Judaea Driscoll, I am the Hebrew God, and you should fear me,” her close friend, Jeanelle “TBJ” Jones, said, laughing.
And Driscoll got on stage a lot. She loved comedy and would spend her time studying it and other stand-up comedians.
Eventually people did figure out that she was underage, and she was partially kicked out of P&H. She would hang out on the back porch all night, allowed into the bar just briefly to do her set before returning to the porch.
“They would let her stand on the porch and kind of do her thing, she would kind of just hang out with people,” Douglas Jones said. “She would come in and do her look and go back out.”
Judaea Driscoll died on Dec. 14. She was 25. Her cause of death has not been released.
Driscoll was a comedian, blogger and also wrote short stories and scripts. She did a little bit of photography as well, Jones said.
In her free time, she was close to her family and very involved in the lives of her nieces and nephews and she took it upon herself to visit her grandmothers house and help with cleaning and errands, Danian Jerry, her uncle, said
“Very sweet and giving person,” Jerry said.
Overall, she was a “firecracker,” Jowa Horn, a fellow comedian in Memphis, said.
“She was funny, man, people loved Judy,” Horn said. “She was that star that everybody thought she would be the one to go onto SNL or something like that. You saw it. Judy was amazing.”
Here performances were “organized chaos” Douglas Jones said. She was always willing to talk about things women “weren’t supposed to talk about,” like masturbation. But she also wasn’t afraid to be silly in her sets.
“Whenever she was on fire, it was always fun to watch,” Douglas Jones said. “When she was good, she was really good. And that was always a pleasure to watch and as a veteran in comedy, it just comes from years in the game, I’m just not easily impressed, and she was definitely one of those ones that would make you stop and take notice.”
The first time Jerry saw her host her comedy show, he was shocked. Driscoll was a small, petite woman, and soft spoken in her personal life, he said.
“I was just so surprised at her stage presence,” Jerry said. “I was shocked, because I didn’t see any fear, I didn’t see any discomfort, I saw the makings of a star.”
Driscoll came from a family of performers, her grandmother taught her children about music and her mother sings in her church’s choir, but not a family of comedians. That skill just came naturally to her, Jerry said.
“When she got into art, I didn’t know anything about it, she just started doing things,” Jerry said. “I looked up and she was doing comedy, I looked up again and she started sending me these stories that she was writing, asking me to read them. She’s multitalented, not only was she an excellent comedian, but she was a great writer. A rising star in my opinion.”
Every time Jones goes to the bathroom, she thinks of a joke Driscoll told about how women use the bathroom.
“Almost every time, I go to the restroom, I think of that joke,” Jones said. “It’s just so many moments. When people ask me, it’s like my mind almost goes blank because it’s like ‘what wasn’t a moment, when she was on stage.’ Most of the times she would have people laughing the entire time. She would, what we would call, kill the room.”
On stage, when a joke would work, Driscoll would jump up and down, Horn said.
“Like ‘oh yeah, that’s a good one.’ The joy she had, just to know a joke worked, Oh my God,” Horn said. “It was special, she was special. I’m so disappointed that this happened like this.”
Access and Equity reporter Micaela Watts contributed to this report.
Gina Butkovich covers DeSoto County, storytelling and general news. She can be reached at 901-232-6714.