Youngmi Mayer on Making Memes About Her Own World

Youngmi Mayer. Photo: Ian Lewandowski

Youngmi Mayer (@ymmayer) is a single mom and stand-up comic living in New York City. She hosts a monthly stand-up showcase at Honey’s in Bushwick.

This week, Mayer talked with me about tweeting about her Korean mom, writing about her son’s conversations, and using memes to describe single motherhood.

I loved the original viral tweet this is based on because it’s so relatable, and I thought it would be funny to put in focus why women relate to feeling inadequate in society. It’s crazy that all the things I mention in the tweet are actual restrictions women in the world go through today. But when they finally let us outside without father, they better watch out.

Do your tweets often stem from your personal life?
My tweets are a combo of my personal life and funny things I find on the internet. I love memes and viral internet jokes and I enjoy using them to express thoughts I have about my own world. I find it absolutely absurd that I use memes spread by teenagers online to describe what it’s like to be a single mom, but that absurdity is what makes it so funny to me.

Mino is my 4-year-old who loves talking to strangers. It’s sort of awkward because I am someone who hates any sort of exchange with strangers, so a lot of times I’m just standing around not making eye contact while he’s having full-blown conversations with people on the street.

What are your favorite topics to tweet about?
My favorite topics to tweet about are drinking too much cold brew and having to poo, being Korean, the absurdity of dieting, and my kid. I used to only tweet seriously about politics but after the Kavanaugh hearings, something snapped and I felt the deep need to find humor in depressing political situations. A lot of people say it’s a hard time for comedy, but for me the helplessness I feel is exactly why I need to make everything funny.

I like making memes on Instagram and tweeting them. A lot of my comedy is about being Korean, and my mean Korean mom. I’ve noticed that when I joke about my mom, I receive a lot of DMs and comments on Instagram from Asian women about how much they relate. It’s such a complicated, large issue that has been reduced to racist tropes like the tiger mom or thick-accented nail lady. So I enjoy thinking about it a lot.

How has the way you tweet changed over time?
I only started tweeting a lot recently, because I wanted to strengthen my writing, and also stop being so precious with it. I think with all forms of social media, when you start doing it a lot, it shapes your content to become more consumable because you get instant feedback. I’m still too new to Twitter to see any huge change, but at a glance my tweets seem shorter.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about the site?
My favorite thing about the site are reading all the crazy right-wing #MAGA comments! I love it so much. [Kristen Wiig tiny hands voice.] Is that bad? I don’t know, something about getting uncontrollably rage-filled by the stupidity of a Trump supporter with 14 followers is soothing to me.

My least favorite thing is sometimes something will blow up on Twitter, and even though I don’t think it’s that important or interesting, because I will keep seeing tweets about it all day, I will be forced into thinking about it. It’s how I feel about mediocre pop songs. Like I don’t think Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test is worth thinking about, just like I don’t want to know all the words to “Despacito,” but it’s like I. Had. No. Choice.

Karen Chee is a Brooklyn-based comedian who writes for The New Yorker, McSweeney’sand Shondaland, among other cool websites.

Youngmi Mayer on Making Memes About Her Own World