As a single lesbian mom living in Berkeley in the 1980s, Karen Williams started doing stand-up comedy “because it was something I could do that didn’t cost anything.” Known for her quick repartee, insightful commentary and audience rapport, Williams is a comic craftmaster, a gifted actor, a multitalented writer, and an inspirational lecturer. Armed with her "heal with humor" philosophy, she gives humor workshops specifically designed to build self-awareness and self-confidence, and to encourage tolerance and respect for the dignity of human life.
Williams was born to teenage parents in the Bronx, NY. A gifted child, she read voraciously. She graduated summa cum laude from Cleveland State University with a personally-designed major in "Humor and Healing." She also received a Master of Education degree from CSU's Adult Learning & Development program. She’s taught Stand-Up Comedy in the Dramatic Arts department of Cleveland State University and is the President and CEO of HaHA Institute. She is creator of the Humor-at-Large workshop series and founder of the National Women's Comedy Conference.
Featured in the award-winning comedy/documentary "We're Funny That Way," she’s shown regularly on HBO and was a nominee for the 1999 GLAMA Award for her outrageously funny comedy CD, "human beings: what a concept" (Uproar Records). As a solo entertainer, Karen Williams delights SRO audiences from San Francisco to South Beach to Sydney.
She’s worked as a comedy writer and is the former television host of the New York variety show "In the Life." Williams' humor writings appear in numerous anthologies, including "Joke Stew" (Andrews McMeel Publishing); Revolutionary Laughter" (Crossing Press); "Out in All Directions" (Warner Books); and "Out, Loud & Laughing" (Random House).
As a mainstage comic at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, she was introduced by television host Jon Stewart as "Professor Williams" (demo tape available). As adjunct faculty at Cleveland State University, Professor Williams taught a Senior Seminar in Stand-Up Comedy.
Karen lives in Cleveland, Ohio, the proud mother of three sons.