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Meg Stalter Skipped Straight from the Internet to “Hacks”

Schulman MegStalter

Before the pandemic, how was your life? Can you describe what you were doing, the state of your career, your life, where you lived? What was happening?

I had just moved to New York six or seven months before the pandemic. I was having the time of my life on different shows every night, and I was like, “Oh, this is the dream. This is New York’s dream. I think that’s when I started to get traction online. I remember, just before the pandemic, my first videos that went – ​​not viral, but a lot of people were watching, more than normal for me. I think a video was – it was, like, the woman in the movie almost connecting with the lead before he goes looking for his real true love, or something.

I remember that one.

And I was, like, ‘Oh, my God, wow, I really do. I’m in New York and I do these shows at night, and people watch my stuff online. Then I think the real attention came with the pandemic. It really changed everything, and [I] wasn’t focused on trying to get people to see it, to be honest. I was just doing these really crazy themed Instagram Lives overnight, because I was so lonely, and I was like, “This is a fun way to feel connected.” Or even posting stuff, I’m like, “Oh, this is like a creative outlet, because we can’t perform live right now,” and that was really scary and sad for me. I was just trying to stay afloat. I was just trying not to lose my mind. It was so scary, but things happened to me too, online.

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It’s this odd combination of a horrible time for the world that cuts right to the right time for Meg’s career. I want to watch one of the videos that went really viral during the pandemic. “Hi, Gay” was from June 2021. It was a video for Pride Month.

This video, I was literally rushing out the door. It was Pride month, and I just saw so many ads from places that would never normally do Pride. It was just, like, something clicked — where it was, like, “God, that would be so funny.”

It’s obviously a great satire of how companies co-opt Pride’s language to sell products in June. To me, what’s so funny is that it’s more than that. You see this character who isn’t used to being on camera trying and failing to look presentable and succeed.

Everything I read on the computer, so everything I said was written. Normally I like to improvise with videos, but this one I was like, “Wouldn’t it be funny if it looked scripted and felt like I was reading a script.” I think what attracts me, when I look at people or get inspired to do a character, is people who are really themselves out loud. They are different from other people, but they are so much themselves that it doesn’t matter what other people think of them.

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Well, there’s something about your characters that represents the extent of American idiocy. There’s this video that I love where you play a woman in her car just went to Starbucks and is outraged.

Yeah.

Of course, we’ve all followed those people who are outraged over the “War on Christmas,” or whatever. In a way, online culture has made everyone a kind of actor in front of the camera. You really capture the feeling that so many people are performing on camera these days when they’re just not ready to do it. You can see them try and fail. It’s like we’re all artists now.

Everyone feels this pressure. Everyone wants to be famous or go viral. It’s fun to mock and explore, like “Why do people feel like this?” Why do people feel the pressure to do this? That’s what’s so funny about these face-on video characters, because like this video, a lot of people thought it was real. That’s what’s so funny.

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Really?

Yeah, I think my favorite characters to watch are people who feel real, even if they’re bonkers. They’re just like, “Oh, well, I know that woman.” Like that church woman, even though she said crazy things about the Starbucks employee and celebrated Halloween, she’s so real.

What kind of things were people saying on Twitter that thought it was real?

People were upset with her, that character, and said, “Wow, I don’t think a Christian should yell at a barista” or, like, “You’re not the real kind of Christian.” Or “I don’t think God would like that.” The other thing is that I really liked the low quality of the videos, because it almost feels like the person is even more real, because it’s like they filmed it themselves. The funny thing is that you can prank people if they don’t follow you. There’s so much of this content now online that you can put your own and people think you’re serious, and that’s really part of the joke to me.



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