Every day of Pride Month, Mashable will be sharing illuminating conversations with members of the LGBTQ community who are making history right now.
Like the rest of us, Chris Kelly hates Twitter.
The 35-year-old writer and producer has had a hell of a year. The Other Two, the show Kelly co-created with writing-partner-turned-bff Sarah Schneider, took off on Comedy Central. Reviews are so glowing that the sitcom already got picked up for a second season.
But he hasn’t always been in the limelight. Kelly, like many other comedy writers started by making stuff with his friends.
After college, Kelly performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade, where comedians like Ellie Kemper and Ilana Glazer got their starts. Kelly also worked as a staff writer at The Onion, where he honed his dark, twisted sense of humor. This would come in handy later, when he began writing for Saturday Night Live in 2011.
During his time at SNL, Kelly was responsible for many the show’s gems, including “Bern Your Enthusiasm,” the popular sketch that turned Larry David into Bernie Sanders. Serving as head writer during the show’s 42nd season, Kelly oversaw one of the most successful seasons in the show’s history. It’s during this season that Kelly began working with fellow head writer, Schneider, on The Other Two, which eventually got picked up by Comedy Central.
The Other Two is about two adult siblings trying to navigate life after their teenage brother, Chase, rockets to fame. It’s also one of the funniest shows around, according to general internet consensus.
Mashable spoke to Kelly about Pride, humor, and why he loves to hate Twitter.
The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.
Mashable: What does Pride mean to you?
Chris Kelly: I think that I have become much more comfortable in my skin and much more comfortable in my own sexuality, in a nice way, where the anxiety of being gay doesn’t fill every waking moment of my life the way it did when I was a teenager or when I first came out. The fact that my life is so much easier now, I take it for granted. So Pride is a nice way for me for me to remember how cool it is that I’m gay and how hard it was for me earlier and how many people who came before me helped me to be able to feel better about myself now. Pride Month, in particular, is a nice way to stop and take stock of how far I feel like I’ve come as a person and why I’ve been able to come so far as a person.
Mashable: How does being gay influence your sense of humor?
CK: I’m not really sure, I remember being younger and kind of being on the outside of things a little bit. As a gay person, I was often outside of other people’s experiences, I wasn’t in the group talking about which girls I hooked up with in college. I guess either I had a secret and/or had a different way of looking at things.
I was on the outside observing a lot, so I think it helps me even now. I feel, oftentimes, I’m on the outside observing things, so I notice things other people might not.
Mashable: The Other Two does such a good job of poking fun at gay culture without making homosexuality the butt of the joke — how did you navigate that?
CK: It’s almost like a problem I don’t have, having to worry about making gay people the butt of the joke, ’cause that would be making myself the butt of the joke and hell no. In the writer’s room, obviously, it’s a comedy show, but a lot of our stories are based on us sitting around and being like ‘What are real insecurities we’ve had? What’re real worries we’ve had, anxieties we’ve had?’ and just map it on to ‘What if you had those same anxieties and insecurities if your little brother was famous?’ I didn’t make gay people the butt of the joke because they’re not.
Mashable: In what way are you most similar to the character Cary on The Other Two?
CK: Almost in every way. I think Cary is a version of me 10 years ago. He’s similar to me in that I remember coming out of the closet and being like ‘Great. That is over. I have done it. And I’m on the other side and I am perfect.’ And then being like, no, I’m still a little insecure and all the years of being a little self-hate-y and a little uncomfortable in my own skin and all the residual homophobia that I grew up around with is still lurking, so I remember feeling that. Being like ‘I’m out, I wanna date, I wanna have sex,’ but still having a bunch of hang-ups. That’s how I relate.
Mashable: You and Sarah Schneider wrote for SNL before joining forces again to do The Other Two — what’s a skit or video that you’re most proud of from your time there?
CK: Umm hmmm. Tough one. There’s just too damn many! No, no, no, I’m kidding. The one that always comes to mind because it makes us laugh and truly no one ever remembers it is this dumb ass music video that we made with Blake Shelton called “Wishin’ Boot” and it’s a country song parody about a single black cowboy boot and it’s just super stupid and we wrote it and we were like, ‘Ok, they’ll never pick this,’ and then they did. And we loved it. That’s a deep cut one I’m very proud of because I made it with my friends and I cant believe it exists.
Mashable: You’re very vocal on Twitter — do you ever get Tweeter’s block? If so, how do you get back into it?
CK: Oh, I mean, God, I wish I would. If I don’t have anything to tweet I’m like ‘thank the Lord.’ And when I do have something I wanna tweet, I’m annoyed. I shouldn’t tweet. I don’t like tweeting and I don’t like Twitter, and I hate that I still do it. I weirdly stopped tweeting for one full year, my last year at SNL, I don’t know why, I just didn’t do it. I felt so good and powerful that I didn’t feel the need to tweet. And then I broke the damn with one random tweet after a year, and now I do it again. Every time I tweet anything, even if I think it’s funny, as soon as I finish tweeting it, I’m like, ‘God damnit!’
Mashable: What advice would you give to a young queer writer looking to make it?
CK: Find other people like you that have a similar sense of humor or outlook, and write with them. And make a bunch of stuff. I went to Upright Citizens Brigade and I found people that I performed with and wrote with. I found a community. Those same people, even today, are people who helped me get on SNL or I would recommend them for SNL and I still think of them when I’m hiring people for my shows. It’s basically just finding a community of people that you find funny and that find you funny and that have a similar view on the world. And then make as much shit as you can together.
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