Rae Sanni on Progress, the President, and the Future

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Rae Sanni is a comedian and writer from Brooklyn, NY who has been bringing her unique perspective on everything from pop culture to race and gender relations to audiences all over. Sanni has worked on Comedy Central and Lifetime, and she has been published in New York Magazine, The Decider, and Buzzfeed. This week, Sanni talked to me about three of her favorite tweets, plus progress, Black Twitter, reproductive rights, and more.

Sanni: This is self explanatory. The president is evil.

How do you stay positive and/or find humor in dire situations?

I don’t know, actually. I don’t feel much better about the state of things after I’ve written a joke about something awful. It’s self indulgence, I suppose. Knowing that I’ve understood or processed the bad information well enough to make a joke about what’s going on feels good. Ephemerally, though. Because after I let off these fire tweets, I’m back to feeling complete terror until I’m distracted by an episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or something and then that dread starts right back up.

How has the way you tweet changed over time?

When I first started using Twitter in 2009, it really was just a public group chat with my friends. We’d be on different corners of our college campus, and someone would tweet “Dinner in Rocky Dining Hall at 6?” and we’d all convene there. In the time since, I’ve become more interested in following writers and culture critics and great thinkers instead of just my friends. Seeing how they use the medium made me think of Twitter as a way of sharing ideas and not a feelings dump. It’s more fun this way, and I feel way more informed about the world, and better about how I’m using my voice. Having to squeeze a complex idea into a funny 140 characters is hard, but an exciting exercise. It makes me have to be smarter and I love the challenge.

There’s this odd hate for millennials that I’ve never quite understood. We get mocked for being soft, or celebrity obsessed. We’re generally considered the worst. It’s so silly. As far as progress goes, we’re the most evolved version of people the world has ever seen. So, yeah. Being obsessed with Kim Kardashian is the best people have ever been.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about Internet culture?

My favorite thing about internet culture is the communities. It’s nice to be a part of something and share in an interest with other people without the anxiety or stress of revealing your whole self. All I gotta do is peruse the Vanderpump Rules hashtag to find someone who loves James Kennedy as much as I do (I know, I know, he sucks but he’s an underdog! I love underdogs!). There’s no exhausting coffee date or embarrassing in-person reveal of your love for the show villain. Just honest interaction with a few weirdos like yourself on a hashtag.

I hate Trolls the most though. I don’t use the internet as an anonymous fan or hater of anything, and I find it so bizarre when I see people go out of their way to search for certain people and make them feel horrible for being on the internet. It’s cruel. But also just bizarre! Imagine being so bored as to search something like “Obama” on Twitter and then call every person you see that’s written something nice about him a “cuck snowflake.” Or to call Kim Kardashian a whore every time she tries to share a funny picture of her babies. Why? It’s so strange. And corny. But mostly strange.

Do you have any favorite trends or subcultures online?

My favorite internet subculture is Black Twitter. Black Twitter is full of super geniuses. Obviously, black folk are not monolithic but there’s this community comprising people of shared cultural experiences (pop cultural references, food, upbringing) that speak a similar language and is so funny and so talented. It blows my mind. Like, there’s some 16-year-old genius with Final Cut Pro who is at home right now setting Migos songs to footage of Sid The Science Kid perfectly and dropping it on the timeline for a million people to enjoy. Or some other genius tweeting about feminism in a language that is familiar and engaging to me. Or some other genius coming up with the latest brilliant way to photoshop Crying Face Jordan onto a losing sports team. It’s so great. I love it so much! The drags, the conversations. I love it all.

Look at that photo! It’s so joyless and miserable. Trump has spent the last two years promising to make people who aren’t rich white dudes miserable and he’s spent the last two weeks following up on that promise. And look, one of the ways he intends to do that is to limit reproductive rights. Which I guess makes sense, since I’ve had more fun having an abortion than anyone in his administration has ever had besides hating Jews. He’s miserable even at a party while he’s rooting for his friends! So goddamn miserable.

What are your predictions and hopes for Twitter (and comedy) in the
coming years?

I have no idea what’s next in Twitter or comedy. I do know that despite what people say and what you might hear, we are all smarter now. And more engaged. Comedians who weren’t overtly political before are showing signs of it now. Politics is seeping into everything. Smart artists make for smarter consumers, and I’m excited at the potential for elevated discourse through art. Also, Trump Fart Jokes. Trump Fart Jokes are the future.

Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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