Laura LeeLun (@laleelun) is a Chicago-based comedy writer who has written for the Belladonna and Robot Butt. She also co-hosts the podcast, Riff Raff Revolution, which features interviews with comedians from underrepresented communities about their creative process and craft. This week, LeeLun talked with me about the sincerity of her online persona and getting her news from Twitter, among other things.
I believe in the importance of self-care, and part of that is quelling the negative thoughts that say you’re not doing enough, and part of that is ice cream.
How much does your voice online overlap with your voice in real life?
I would like to say that my online voice is a persona I’ve intentionally created, but sadly, it’s not. It’s me at my most uncensored, insecure, petty, awkward, and questioning. It’s definitely not reflective of the “better angels of my nature,” that’s for sure! But then, comedy doesn’t often derive from unmitigated joy and contentment, so there’s that …
I’ve actually had elaborate fantasies where we’re sitting by the fire and he’s reading to me from the selected works of e.e. cummings. Of course, I don’t know his name and he may not even read books, let alone poetry. This is probably why I’m single.
Do you ever use your tweets to develop longer pieces?
This is something I want to start doing, as my Twitter feed is littered with musings on everyday absurdities (or what I consider absurdities). It is also a very accurate record of what enrages me, which would serve as a great source for satire. I did recently write something based on a tweet about Netflix assigning a premiere date to a talk show hosted by Norm Macdonald (right after they canceled The Break With Michelle Wolf). My piece addresses the lack of women of color in late night. Representation matters, people!
I know that in the pantheon of racial profiling, this is a very mild example, but it still took me aback. The joke was on her, though. There are no good Chinese restaurants in my neighborhood!
Do you prefer topical or evergreen tweets?
I don’t think I have a preference because there’s a time and place for both. That being said, following the news these days can feel like falling down a rabbit hole of despair, so I appreciate reading tweets on personal dramas or nonsensical jokes instead. I try to stay away from tweeting too much about current events for this same reason. I assume the friends and strangers reading my tweets are already inundated with news, so I focus instead on examining the emotional pratfalls in my own life.
I’m generally concerned with matters of etiquette, as I’m a socially awkward person. I didn’t want to offend this baby, who was just being friendly, but to this day, I don’t know what the right move was. After a minute of waving, I just studiously avoided eye contact.
Do you have any topics you particularly enjoy tweeting about?
Recently, it’s been issues of representation in popular culture and Crazy Rich Asians! I’m not “crazy rich” by any means, nor am I from Singapore, but it meant so much to see an entire cast of actors who look like me on the big screen. I hope I’m not jumping the gun by calling it a watershed moment.
Also food and my many pet peeves.
What does your newsfeed look like?
My newsfeed is split pretty evenly between comedy writers, stand-ups, satire sites (e.g. the Onion), and reputable news organizations. I’m not proud of this, but I get most of my daily news from Twitter, and the comedians in my feed help me process the fiery hellscape that constitutes the current news cycle.
Karen Chee is a Brooklyn-based comedian who writes for The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and Shondaland, among other cool websites.