@AnaFabregaGood on Characters Without Context and Coping with Post-Election Sadness

ana-fabrega
Ana Fabrega is a comedian in New York City. She produces, hosts, and performs at comedy venues and art spaces around the city. She hosts a monthly show the first Sunday of every month at 8pm at Over the Eight, and performs weekly on The Holy Fuck Comedy Hour and Michael Jordan Steakhouse at The Annoyance Theatre. She was selected as one of Comedy Central’s “Comics to Watch” for the 2016 New York Comedy Festival. You can find more information about Ana here and upcoming shows here. The sequel to “The Truth About Pangaea” comes out December 2016. This week, I asked Fabrega to tell me a little about three of her favorite tweets, and we talked about visual humor, jokes without context, and more.

Fabrega: I chose this one because it has wordplay and good design, but mostly because I really like the idea of people assembling their shoes.

Did you make this just for Twitter? How often do you make visuals just for Twitter vs as part of a larger project?

Not specifically for Twitter, but I did make it with the intention of posting it on social media—Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. Most of the visuals I make are for social media, but I do make some exclusively for print (e.g., zines). Sometimes I’ll make visuals for a live show and later post them online. Social media just happens to be the best way, for me at least, to get these out into the world (as quickly and accessibly as possible). Perhaps one day they’ll be in an art gallery…lol jk.

When I made this, I was browsing a royalty-free music database to find a song for a video. But, as I browsed, I got distracted improvising dialogue around what I thought the music called for, if that makes sense. I originally posted them individually on Instagram Stories. I liked them, and didn’t want them to disappear, so I just cut them together and put them on Twitter.

Is there a social media platform that you’d say best fits your humor?

Not necessarily because you can post text, videos, and pictures across all platforms (although, on Instagram a text post would have to be a picture of the text…). I use Instagram and Twitter the most, and the stuff I post on Facebook and Tumblr is usually stuff I already shared on Twitter and Instagram. Sometimes Twitter is better for a specific joke because there is no context—you don’t see me saying it, you don’t hear my voice or see my expression—so it’s up the reader to interpret it however they want. On the other hand, sometimes a video is best for a joke because what I say and how I say it (i.e., voice and expression) are what make the joke funny. It depends. I’m #blessed to have so many platforms for telling jokes.

How similar is your voice online to your voice IRL?

It’s the same. A lot of my standup is essentially a live performance of the kinds of things I post on Twitter and Instagram. But, there are some jokes I can’t tell IRL because they’re best told via picture, text, or video online — and others that are best executed live instead of in a picture, text or video. It all depends. If you’re asking not specifically about performance/off-stage, I think the answer depends on the context. Maybe I’m being goofy and doing bits, maybe I’m being serious and have no desire to joke around…I suppose like any other human being…

I will say, though, that sometimes when I meet someone who doesn’t know I’m a comedian, I think they may be surprised that I am because I’m just nice and polite — no signs of “LOOK AT ME! I’M FUNNY!” For example, when I left my day job to pursue comedy, they were all very surprised because I rarely made jokes at work (I worked there for about four years). And the opposite is true, too. I think people who follow me online or see me perform may be surprised that I am very mellow and calm IRL. I can be very unassuming…Also, in my day-to-day life, I’m very organized and practical, and my comedy is so different from that. I think it all balances out.

This tweet was an attempt to bring myself out of post-election sadness. It was my first non-political/election-related Tweet since the election. I thought it was unproductive when people was saying they were going to move to Canada when Trump won — you stay here and fight to improve things, no? — so this was my way of poking fun at that. I like the idea of someone who thinks leaving the continental U.S. means you’re out of Trump’s reach. Whoever this is apparently doesn’t know Hawaii is a U.S. state lol.

What are your favorite kinds of characters to write as and perform?

I love characters without context — both online and live. I have longer character pieces I do live where I clearly lay out who I am, but I love performing lots of one or two-line characters back to back. Characters where there is no explanation of who I am, where I am, where I came from, why I’m there, etc. — it’s just a line of dialogue, and you can interpret it however you want. I do this in videos, too. On Twitter, like I said, I love getting that same lack of context. I often don’t know who I’m writing for either. I don’t know who these people are, and I don’t want to know because not knowing is what makes me laugh.

Is there anything else online that especially made you laugh/helped you feel better after the election?

Anything, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or a news site, where people refuse to accept racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc., and show compassion and hope has helped. Seeing photos and videos of my friends and other comedians at protests has been helpful. Reading things my friends share about ways to enact change and productively handle the situation has been helpful. I’ve also been watching so many videos of Elizabeth Warren speaking. She is the best. With regard to laughter, I think the first thing that made me laugh after the election was at a live show. A few days after the election, though, Joel Kim Booster shared a Food Network video about how to make a dump cake with the caption “what is even the point of this shit?” Like most of us, he’d been posting a lot about the election, and suddenly, here’s this “fuck dump cakes” post. It makes me laugh every time I think about it.

Photo by Mindy Tucker.

Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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