Kelley Quinn (@heyKQ) is a writer, performer, and Missy Elliott superfan in Brooklyn. She performs weekly on UCB’s Harold Night and monthly at Here & Queer, an LGBTQ comedy show also at UCB.
This week, Quinn and I talked about Twitter bits, finding community in the comedy scene, and her L Word audition that’s taken Twitter by storm.
The only joy I find on Twitter anymore is in short, stupid bits and music-related jokes. It is otherwise a fuck swamp of bad neoliberal takes from people named Jon. This tweet is short and stupid.
What made you decide to do comedy?
I started caring about comedy in a Golden Age of SNL Women — Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Kristen Wiig. Watching those women be disgusting and powerful on TV made me want to do that, too. So when I got to college, I joined a sketch group and fell totally in love with sketch comedy. I’d previously been interested in academia after college, but it took one semester in that stupid group to change my mind because I am weak of mind and addicted to audience feedback!!! The rest is history in that I am tired all the time and still do not have a full-time comedy job.
Do you think Twitter has helped your comedy in any way? Has it changed your comedy in any way?
I can be kinda verbose, so I think Twitter has taught me how to tighten up. It has also made me less precious about my jokes. Nothing makes you question the concept of originality like seeing the same joke about a celebrity death or headline or whatever made 500 times in three minutes.
This video is literally just me saying the names and hypothetical coffee orders of characters and guest stars on The L Word, a Showtime drama that left the air a decade ago. News of the show being rebooted sent ripples through Twitter’s large and horny queer community back in January, and I was like, HOW CAN I BE INVOLVED IN THIS THING I LOVE?!?!
Your barista bit is truly a masterpiece. Do you have any other favorite viral Twitter bits?
Thank you so much! I turned my desperation to be on the L Word reboot into a bit where I campaign way too hard to be cast in a very small, specific role (a barista, which I KNOW THE SHOW WILL NEED). It started with me writing scripts giving myself small lines and describing myself in the stage directions as this very flexible, talented actress who could be whatever they wanted, and then escalated into me making this video that got more attention than I expected! Most of the original cast engaged with it on social media, and my dyke queen Jane Lynch tweeted at the old showrunner specifically to hire me. The new showrunner does not have a Twitter, which I think is cool and healthy. I have not been cast.
I really love Demi Adejuyigbe’s wonderful “September” bit. I still laugh whenever I see Megan Amram’s daily “today was the day Donald trump finally became president” tweet because it feels like it encompasses so much of the stupid culture around amateur political commentary on Twitter.
This is another short, stupid tweet that I made at a restaurant after having said that exact thing. I was eating alone. I blame compulsory heterosexuality for the way I sometimes do that “corny drunk aunt trying to flirt” thing around cute male waiters.
You perform in a monthly show called Here & Queer. What do you think is the most important thing about queer and LGBTQ+ comedians having their own space on the scene?
When I first moved to New York and was doing mics, I felt a lot of judgment regarding any jokes I’d do about having an “alternative identity.” Some of this is that I was not good at comedy yet. But some of it was the reluctance of a 95 percent straight male audience to engage with this thing that wasn’t relevant to them. So I backed off that scene and started spending time around performers who made me feel listened to, not just the kind I felt like I needed to impress. I didn’t really feel like I hit my stride till I started doing more shows with all queer performers in mostly queer spaces. The LGBTQ community, like several others, is so underserved in terms of representation that I think their audiences are abnormally supportive and just happy to see a bit of themselves on a stage or screen. But to do shows and get, like, uproarious positive feedback from “my” community made it easier to have confidence in other spaces as well.
Tell us about your Missy Elliott superfandom.
I have loved Missy since I was a child! I don’t think of myself having a strong “personal brand,” so my superfandom of Missy Elliott is probably the closest thing I have to a hallmark I am known for. I monitor her social media presence obsessively, waiting for evidence of new music or upcoming shows, and probably 30 percent of my Twitter activity is just retweets of her inspirational tweets, which are genuinely great and uplifting. I think listening to her music is the first time I understood what confidence was when I was young. My parents were conservative and disliked us listening to rap, but the first time I got into a car by myself and was able to blast her music, I would just pull up to a soccer game or wherever and feel like “I AM THE BEST” because Missy made me feel like I was. I listen to either “Bomb Intro / Pass the Dutch” or “She’s a Bitch” before every show. She is such a funny lyricist — I laugh out loud during so many of her songs. ALSO I grew up in southern Virginia, where Missy is from, and had a military/law-enforcement parent, which she also did. A few years ago, I tweeted something like, “You ever cry thinking about how much @missyelliott means to you? :)” and SHE FOLLOWED ME BACK and that, to date, is my happiest moment on Twitter.