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Chelsea Peretti talks comedy and technology--the good and bad

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Photo credit: Evan Sung

While purchasing a car charger for her iPhone at an Apple store in L.A., rising stand-up comedy star Chelsea Peretti (a former writer on NBC's sitcom "Parks and Recreation" and "The Sarah Silverman Program," she'll star this fall in the Fox comedy "Brooklyn Nine Nine") talked about the positive and negative impact of technology -- in particular, the Internet -- on comedy.

Aptly enough, Peretti's upcoming shows at Chicago's TBS Just for Laughs comedy festival take place June 13-15 at Stage 773 on W. Belmont. Set up as the base of operations for podcasts and live streaming of performances via a variety of outlets (Twitter, Yahoo! Google+, DailyMotion and more), the space is designated as JFL's "Digital Comedy Hub."

Shortly after we capped our phone chat, Peretti tweeted: "This day is going what could best be described as 'doo doo.'" Not sure how to take that. Anyway, here's Chelsea.

Q: You just tweeted a Vine.com video of mold. Are you trying to get mold out of your home?
A: I'm trying to move right now, actually, because I've had mold since I moved in. I can't take it anymore. My landlord has painted over it like, six times. That's his way of dealing with it. I was like, "I can't have it painted over again." I have to move out.

Q: How do you have time to write comedy stuff when you're juggling Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram?
A: Well, I don't write for "Parks and Recreation" anymore. And the thing about entertainment, as you can see from many different well-known, established people who are on Twitter, is that there's a lot of down time and a lot of solitude. I think Twitter and other social media are perfect for people who are alone, stranded in a trailer for six hours or whatever. You have something to do during that time. Aside from that, even just at home, it doesn't take long to write one sentence and tweet it. I'm definitely super involved, but that's just the way my personality is, I guess.

Q: Your tweeting is sort of stream-of-consciousness.
A: I'm definitely not tweeting stream of consciousness [laughs]. I wouldn't say that. I'm tweeting jokes. There are some comedians that just tweet really crafted jokes, and every tweet is like, "OK, there's a reversal. OK, there's a play on words." It's kind of A plus B equals C joke writing. I like when someone on Twitter is more of a living, breathing personality than when they're just doing joke, joke, joke, joke, joke. That can get boring after a while.

Q: A couple of years ago Time magazine named your Twitter feed as one of the year's top, along with those of Bill Gates, Prince and lots of others.
A: That was huge for me. My mom read Time growing up. She's been on board ever since I started making any amount of money [in comedy]. Time magazine was an institution in the house, so it was cool for me.

Q: Did that attract a lot more followers?
A: I'm not sure. I don't really monitor my followers. Sometimes comedians will tweet, "I just lost 20 followers because of that tweet!" I just don't monitor it, because I want to be free to do whatever I want and say whatever I want and not be like, "Oh, my God, I lost five followers!" because of a tweet.

Q: Are you ever afraid you're going to pull a Gilbert Gottfried?
A: It's not even about Twitter. There's a culture right now where everyone knows best what everyone else should be saying all the time. That's a constant fear in today's society. And it's tricky. I'm liberal and I don't think there should be hate crimes and I don't think that teenage gay children should be bullied in school. But I also think that people should be able to say what they want, and if you don't like it, that's fine.

Q: The upside to technology is you can reach a lot more people than you once could.
A: [But] someone can go to a live performance and blog about it or tweet about it. There's a much more immediate review feeling to everything you do. Whereas my understanding of what it used to be like to do comedy was you were at these dark clubs or you were on the road, working on material...and you had a certain amount of privacy as you were working on stuff. Whereas today, people immediately can tweet or Tumblr or whatever they want to do, and if something you say didn't rub them the right way, they have immediate reviews they can put out to the public.

Q: There's no place to really cultivate your material anymore.
A: You can do it. It just makes it feel a little more stressful. But who knows? Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe it's good to be thoughtful and whatever.

Q: How has your embrace of technology and the Internet been an advantage?
A: I've been involved since the very beginning with Internet stuff. I had a blog back in the day. It's still up there; I should probably take it down. I've always had the Internet as part of what I do. I have some friends who are like, "The Internet is ruining society!" and all these things. For me, I just feel like I'm so lucky I live in a time in which I can have my voice without any interference. And if people like it, that's all that matters.

Q: Technology certainly has democratized comedy, among other things.
A: Yeah, and sometimes that's annoying. Sometimes I'll meet a comedian who started stand-up six months ago and they're like, "I'm selling a DVD of my hour of shows." And you're like, "You've only been doing stand-up for an hour." I think in some ways it emboldens people. But ultimately, I think the good outweighs the bad.

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Thomas published on June 4, 2013 2:45 PM.

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