Liva Pierce, World’s First Queer Gender Studies Minor

Liva Pierce. Photo: Yamini Nambimadon

Liva Pierce (@realchoppedliva) is a writer and performer originally from Maine but based in Chicago. She is currently a sophomore at the University of Chicago, where she studies creative writing. She has performed at iO, Second City, the Crowd Theater, and the Revival Theater.

This week, Pierce and I discussed Twitter obsessions, chic birth control, and not understanding how to use TikTok.

What made you decide to pursue comedy?
I have always loved performing and I did a lot of musical theater as a kid. It took me about eight years of auditioning for school and camp productions to realize that the reason I wasn’t getting the parts I wanted was because I couldn’t sing. Instead, I always got the non-singing parts, which tended to be some kind of comic-relief character. Over time, however, I grew to really enjoy those roles! I didn’t really know I could pursue comedy separately from theater until my cool older cousin showed me SNL when I was probably 13. I loved watching Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Fred Armisen, and that’s when I really started seriously thinking about doing comedy. In high school, I started watching hours of late-night talk-show interviews and listening to Marc Maron and reading comedy memoirs. I decided that I had to move to a city with a comedy scene for school.

I have had bad acne all my life, and so I started this tradition where every couple of months I do a bunch of research on skin care and then don’t change any of my habits. A year ago, while I was poking around online, I found out that birth control can sometimes improve your skin. I am a lesbian (proud of myself for holding out this long to say that!), so I thought it was funny that I was looking into contraceptives. There is something chic about going that extra mile, just like putting on a pointless accessory. Sadly, I will never know if birth control would have made my skin better because I still haven’t tried it. Maybe one day …

Twitter has been a great platform for your comedy. Do you think that social media is changing the scene?
I’m grateful for Twitter because I have found so many amazing writers and comedians because of it. Especially when I was in Maine, I relied on Twitter to follow the work of people I admired. Now that I live in Chicago, it’s easier for me to see live shows, but I still depend on Twitter to tell me when someone I like has posted a short film or a sketch or something I can watch online. I think it allows comedians to find their audience in a way that can be much more direct than performing at mics or on a house team or something like that. However, there’s obviously a limit to how much good Twitter can do, and a lot of doing well is just having random luck with timing. Plus, it can consume so much time and energy if you get too invested in what specific outcomes you want from it. It also makes me sooooo anxious, lol! It is definitely changing the scene, though, and I am mostly just happy that it has given me so many new people to be obsessed with!

I’m actually the first queer person to be a gender studies minor in college, and I tweeted this after I had written a paper for class on sex-education laws in the United States. I was also inspired by a real experience I had with putting in a tampon that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My actions can be dumb, but at least I can take comfort that they are never as dumb as abstinence-only education laws!

You’re a sophomore in college, a mere infant. Do you notice any differences between the way Gen Z does funny versus your elders, the Millennials™?
Since I am on the older end of Gen Z, I feel kind of sad that I am out of the loop on a lot of stuff. I don’t know how to work a TikTok, and my younger sister in high school had to show me what was going on. I will say that I am really impressed with the creativity on TikTok — people are writing, editing, producing, directing, and really putting in the work! I think Gen Z will be the multi-hyphenate generation. The comedy is so surreal and wacky, which I love.

What’s a goal you have for 2020, comedy-, stand-up-, or writing-wise?
I want to do more stand-up! I do a lot of sketch and improv at school with my team, Off-Off Campus, which I love, love, love, but I want to go to more mics. I am also working a few little ideas with friends such as a short film and a podcast, I just want to play around and try stuff out.

I made this video because I feel that everyone (myself included, obviously) gets off on being a devil’s advocate sometimes. I think it is really funny how horny people get about their own opinions — especially when they think that their opinion is going to get a reaction out of the person they are telling it to. I also like this video because I was recovering from a random case of pneumonia (I got pneumonia in the summer because I live a charmed life), and I think my voice sounds sexier when it’s all scratchy and messed up.

Okay, so tell us: What’s your most popular unpopular opinion?
I like cats better than dogs. Dogs are fine; my family has a dog. But cats are it.

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Liva Pierce, World’s First Queer Gender Studies Minor