Sara Schaefer is incredibly funny. From her uncompromising stand-up to her phenomenally sharp and culturally aware writing, she is delivering terrifically insightful material to a world that desperately needs levity. She also works on Not Safe with Nikki Glaser, one of the best shows on television right now (Theon Greyjoy). And is an Emmy winner. What else do I have to say? We interviewed Sara in advance of her show at the American Comedy Co. this Sunday, and discussed pressing topics such as “should people wear gym shorts on dates?” and “will dudes ever become less creepy?” The outlook is grim.
Rob Patrick: Is “Weird Twitter” a thing anymore? As someone who is p good at tweeting, what do you think the site’s trajectory is, in regards to comedy, as we head into the hell that is 2017?
Sara Schaefer: I never really got into Weird Twitter too deeply. I think any type of comedy goes through cycles of popularity. They surge every once in a while and then die down when people get tired of the same thing. I was very into weird humor growing up. Anything dabbling in the absurd. Shel Silverstein put out an ABC book for adults that was so funny and weird it blew my teen mind. I didn’t know something like that could exist. And he was making fun of something I knew very well – his own children’s books, and children in general. I still have it, I probably read it hundreds of times.
Anyway, about Twitter…I don’t think Twitter is going anywhere (but what do I know?). But at the same time, I don’t think people are getting “twitter famous” like they used to. Some of that magic is gone. But I think people still use it heavily to connect with what’s going on in the world. At the same time, I think people are desperate for a platform that deals with abuse more effectively. And in general, I think that the kids that are growing up now might swing the pendulum back towards more privacy and less over-sharing on-line. The kids whose parents have put thousands of pictures of them on-line without their consent – what happens when they grow up and see what we’ve wrought?
Your tweets are always self-referential, culturally aware, and honest. In your mind, what makes a great status update?
Aw, thanks. I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter, in that it can trigger a lot of insecurities in me in a myriad of ways. I used to just sit there and try to make myself write a funny tweet. There was so much pressure in the beginning to be hilarious on twitter, like 20 times a day. Now, I only tweet when I think of something funny. I don’t force it. I also tweet a lot of serious stuff, which sometimes worries me that people might think I’m not a funny person. I’m funniest on stage, in my writing, and real world projects.
For me, a great status update is something that gets around 200 likes. That means people who are my fans and who know me thought it was funny. If it starts getting more likes, I panic. That’s when the idiots and trolls come a’calling. Some tweets are like runaway trains, and I have found that I can’t predict which ones are going to go viral and attract the rats like hot garbage.
What are the odds that @midnight throws up their arms, says “fuck it”, and has Ron Funches play against himself on an upcoming episode of the show?
I would totally watch that. Ron is such a hilarious, kind person. Truly one of a kind. I love him.
Your podcast LIES – an interview show where every anecdote from host and guest has to be entirely fictional – is incredibly fast-paced and funny. How do you manage to keep that sort of streamlined conversation up? Where does your brain go, during the Q&A, to draw so many great, impromptu lines?
I did a bunch of prep for those interviews, but I had to be ready to throw it all away if the conversation went into a different direction. I did improv for six years when I first started in comedy, so I think those skills came into play. It often felt like my guest and I were building something together. They’d add a block, then I would add a block, and then eventually we’d woven some crazy conversation. The trick for me was to always make it feel as real as possible. I channeled my inner Terry Gross.
After stand-up performances, fan interaction has become a topic of conversation. On her podcast, Not Safe, Nikki Glaser recently spoke about the creepy tendencies of some supporters. Meanwhile, Amy Schumer almost swore off photographs, post-show, because of increased fan belligerence. Do you think that the instant gratification of social media is causing this increasingly weird, impolite, and dangerous behavior with some fans? Or are most dudes just hardwired to be insane? This question is very tl;dr.
I think there were morons like this dating back to the stone age. Cavemen who would grunt inappropriately while trying to compliment a cavewoman for how well she foraged for seeds that day. I think now, with social media, we are able to discuss this behavior on a mass scale and analyze where it’s coming from and why it’s not okay. I try to remind people that just because a woman talks or jokes about her own sexuality doesn’t mean it’s cool to make demeaning, sexual comments to her.
Your live album, Chrysalis, is super funny. This isn’t really a question, but more of a statement that I’m standing by.
You’ve been on so many “best of” lists that even John Cusack in High Fidelity would be overwhelmed (pretty solid current event reference from 2000). And you have an Emmy. An Emmy! What awards and lists are you aiming for next?
I used to be goal-oriented in that way. I’d want to get on a particular list and try to visualize and make that happen. The Emmy was so wildly unexpected, so I didn’t really dream about that in a specific way (aside from when I was a little girl, watching awards shows daydreaming about being on that stage one day, of course). Nowadays, I don’t really aim for a particular list or award, but rather I focus on trying to do work that would be worthy of such recognition. Lists are particularly dangerous because if you take them too seriously, it hurts too much when you’re not included. You’ll just be minding your own business one day, and then you log onto Facebook and see that you didn’t get included on the Poughkeepsie Mailer’s “10 Comics You Should Know” list, and you’re spiraling.
Please bring back Nikki & Sara Live. The world is in a dark place and needs more Steve Carell patting.
Thanks! Nikki’s show is great, I’m writing on it right now. So in a way, the light is still shining.
Finally, Julie Klausner told us that wearing gym shorts on a date is a terrible idea. Is this true, or what’s the deal here?
I agree! Respect yourself. Put some goddamn pants on.