Shayma Tash was born in Santa Cruz California to a liberal, hippie mother and eccentric, Turkish, musician father. The couple split by the time Shayma turned 4. Shayma’s mother moved to San Diego, California where she eventually made a lateral move by wedding an unreliable Biker.
Shayma’s childhood was notably chaotic. At the age of 5 both she and her older brother were placed in foster care for several months while her mother served time in jail after “unknowingly” buying stolen furniture. Surprisingly there were also benefits to having such unstable parents. For one, they listened to good music. Secondly, their lackadaisical approach to parenting allowed her to watch irreverent comedy such as: Saturday Night Live, Richard Pryor and Cheech and Chong.
Her parents encouraged her to express herself freely, even turning off the radio while on road trips to hear Shayma joke about the drivers in surrounding vehicles. It was at the age of 7 that Shayma saw her first HBO comedy special. She knew immediately that she wanted to become a comedienne when she grew up. From a very young age, Shayma yearned to study dance, but her family, who was frequently broke and on food stamps, could not afford lessons. So at the age of 12, Shayma joined a breakdancing crew, specializing in popping and locking.
A huge fan of the movie “Flashdance”, Shayma got the nerve to audition for the San Francisco School of the Arts when she was 14. To her surprise she was accepted. Waking before sun up and working tirelessly paid off. She went from a dancer with natural ability and no formal training to a soloist in the school’s dance concert her freshman year. But an abrupt, unexpected, family move forced her to say goodbye to School of the Arts. She was then introduced her to the drama department of a new school. Shayma enjoyed performing in front of the class and even wrote her own funny monologues.
Although they often caused her teacher to cringe, they made her classmates laugh. She liked school but her parents relationship had become exceedingly tumultuous and often times violent. Her stepfather was in the clutches of a serious drug addiction and she found it impossible to study with constant turmoil in the household. At 16 she quit school, moved out and began to support herself. She worked over 70 hours a week doing property maintenance, working as a prep cook at “Beef in the Sack Deli” (not a joke) and bagging groceries in the Mission Beach district of San Diego, California. One night on her way home from work she passed the La Jolla Comedy Store. Though the window she saw a stand-up comedian performing. She didn’t know how to get started as a comedienne but that night she vowed to herself that she would return as soon as she turned 21 to pursue her childhood dream. Along with cracking jokes and dancing, Shayma had always loved to sing.
It was a welcome escape from her dreary circumstances growing up. Longing to perform, she joined a reggae band as a back up singer and dancer at the age of 17. But juggling 3 jobs and rehearsals took a toll and after a short while, she parted ways with the band. At the urge of her parents Shayma gave living at home one more try but soon realized things had not changed for the better. After a mere 2 months, she moved out once again. This time it was for good. She had obtained a job at a local Indian Casino and was able to support herself.
In her free time she studied dance, and acting at a nearby community college. She also performed regularly with local dance companies. About to turn 21, she finagled her way into the La Jolla Comedy Store. After seeing a particularly funny comedian perform she asked him how to get started. He told her to scrape up 3 minutes of material, call in for the “open mic” night and take it from there. Later, she sat down her best friend and neighbor for a bit of storytelling. Afterward they discussed what parts were funny, which she used as the basis of her stand-up act. Shayma called the club tenaciously for stage time and was invited to join the local sketch comedy troupe the “Comedy Store Players South”. She gladly accepted.
After four years of performing in San Diego Shayma felt it was time to make the move to Los Angeles. Within 6 months of her move she made her television debut on the Keenan Ivory Wayans show. She also became a regular at the Hollywood Comedy Store where she worked along side such legendary Comedians as Chris Rock, Norm Mac Donald, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and many others. She was cast as a series regular on Warner Bros. primetime sketch show “Hype” which lead to several TV appearances on such shows as the Best Damn Sports Show, the Tonight Show, MTV’s Punk’d and Chelsea Lately. But she never forgot her roots. Shayma spent the last 10 years continuing to work in comedy clubs around the U.S. and Canada. She has also done 15 tours abroad, performing for the U.S. military. She has opened for George Lopez, Bill Maher, and Richard Jeni and currently opens for Carrot Top in Las Vegas on a regular basis. Shayma Tash also headlines in Las Vegas as part of Mike Tricarichi’s “Icons of Comedy” Series at the Las Vegas Hilton and is currently developing a one-woman variety show that will include singing, dance, characters, impressions and yes…stand-up.