Crissle West

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Crissle West
Crissle West (cropped).jpg
West at a live taping of The Read
Crystal Renee Townsend
OccupationComedian, social commentator, writer
Years active2012–present
Known forThe Read, Drunk History

Crissle West is an American writer and comedian. She is best known as the co-host of the pop culture podcast The Read. She has starred in episodes of Drunk History, on which she has told the story of Harriet Tubman's work as a Union spy during the Civil War, as well as Marsha P. Johnson and the Stonewall riot.[1][2]


West was born in Louisiana and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, graduating from Booker T. Washington high school in 2000. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2004. In Oklahoma, she met future The Read co-host Kid Fury first on Twitter,[3] then in person during a trip to Atlanta in 2012.[4] West moved to New York City shortly thereafter and worked first at a magazine, and then as an executive assistant.[3]

The Read[edit]

Two months after West moved to New York, Kid Fury approached her about starting a podcast through the Loud Speakers Network; the show, named The Read, quickly gained traction.[3] iTunes featured The Read on its Best of 2013 list and as an Editors' Choice pick in 2014. Slate named one episode to its list of "Best 25 Podcast Episodes of All Time,"[5] and The Verge named The Read to its list of podcasts "you should be listening to."[6] The Read also won best podcast at the 2014 Black Weblog Awards.[7]

Together West and Kid Fury were named to The Grio's 100, which said "the unabashedly profane duo take 'throwing shade' to a new level on a weekly basis leaving their fans in stitches and shaking their heads in disbelief."[8]

The Read was adapted into a television show on Fuse TV that premiered in October 2019.[9]

Comedy and other media[edit]

West has been noted for her trenchant critiques of racism. She drew national attention for a WNYC-hosted panel "Funny or Racist" where she dismantled an argument defending blackface.[10][11]

West is also a comedian, notably appearing with Octavia Spencer on Comedy Central's Drunk History series in "a surprisingly-hilarious retelling"[12] of Harriet Tubman's work as a Union spy during the Civil War.[13] Salon called the episode one of 2015's "best moments in political comedy."[14] In 2016, West narrated an episode of Drunk History honoring National Coming Out Day, recounting Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson's role in the Stonewall Riots.[15] The A.V. Club said the episode "schools Hollywood in telling LGBT stories," as "West, who was one of last season’s best narrators, returns with another memorable, powerful retelling."[16]

West was also a host on Beats 1 Radio, part of Apple Music,[17] and has written for Essence. Madame Noire calls her "one of the people we wish were our friends. She’s just that cool, really."[18]

West appeared on the second season of late-night show Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne Tha God on MTV2.[19]

Alongside Francheska Medina, West co-hosts Insecuritea: The Insecure Aftershow, the official recap podcast for the HBO series Insecure.[20] The fourth season was nominated for a Shorty Social Good award in the Podcast category at the 13th Shorty Awards.[21]

Personal life[edit]

West is queer.[3] She is presently in school pursuing a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.[22]


Year Title Role Notes
2014 Watch What Happens Live Herself Season 11, Episode 89
2015–2018 Drunk History 3 episodes
2016–present Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne Regular panelist
2017 Andy Cohen's Then & Now
2019 The Read with Kid Fury and Crissle West Herself


  1. ^ Raptopoulos, Lilah (16 July 2014). "Listen to This: The Read, with Crissle and Kid Fury". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  2. ^ Drunk History
  3. ^ a b c d McDonald, Soraya Nadia (14 November 2013). "Q&A: 'The Read's' Kid Fury and Crissle West". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  4. ^ Lopez, Linette (December 16, 2013). "How 2 Friends Started The Most Hilarious Podcast Of The Year By Being Brutally Honest". Business Insider. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  5. ^ Haglund, David; Onion, Rebecca (14 December 2014). "The 25 Best Podcast Episodes Ever". Slate. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  6. ^ Staff, Verge (4 August 2013). "You should be listening to all these podcasts". The Verge. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  7. ^ Sachs, Adam (13 July 2015). "The Read's Crissle West on Making a Living with Podcasting - Midroll". The Wolf Den. Midroll. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  8. ^ "TheGrio's 100: Kid Fury and Crissle, keeping hip-hop heads amused on 'The Read'". The Grio. January 31, 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  9. ^ Ford, Sabrina (2019-10-10). "From Juggernaut Podcast to TV Debut, Crissle West of 'The Read' Always Keeps it Real". Medium. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  10. ^ Furlan, Julia (May 28, 2015). "A Guy Defended Blackface And Was Absolutely Shut Down". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  11. ^ Logan, Erin (28 May 2015). "Crissle West Is Magical For Taking Down White Privilege -". Blavity. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  12. ^ Rao, Sameer (25 September 2015). "WATCH: Octavia Spencer and Crissle West Depict 'Drunk History' Of Harriet Tubman's Union Spying". Color Lines. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  13. ^ Blevins, Joe (21 April 2016). "Drunk History recalls Harriet Tubman's exploits as a Union Army spy". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  14. ^ Holloway, Kali (December 28, 2015). "The 17 best moments in political comedy this year". Salon. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  15. ^ Canfield, David (October 12, 2016). "For National Coming Out Day, Drunk History Paid Poignant Homage to Martha P. Johnson and the Stonewall Riots". Slate. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  16. ^ Upadhyaya, Kayla Kumari (October 11, 2016). "Drunk History schools Hollywood in telling LGBT stories". The A.V. Club. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  17. ^ "50+ LGBTQ Black Women You Need To Know Because We Are Awesome | Autostraddle". 15 February 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  18. ^ Wells, Veronica (20 June 2016). "Nah: Crissle Says White Women's Children "Will Never Be Black"". Madame Noire. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  19. ^ Butler, Bethonie (2017-03-29). "You probably haven't heard of these late-night shows — but they're worth watching". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  20. ^ "Insecuritea". SoundCloud. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  21. ^ "Here Are the Finalists for the Fifth Annual Shorty Social Good Awards". Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  22. ^ "'We See You, Sis': Crissle May Have Never Wanted The Spotlight, But She's Earned It". Essence. Retrieved 2020-02-14.

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