People think my videos are real! comedy

NSegan stalter mode Video Online recently about a churchgoer from the American Midwest getting annoyed to be served by a Starbucks barista wearing Halloween cat ears. (“We are not allowed to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, but are we allowed to celebrate Satan’s procession?”) Played with a nice straight bat, it was a piece with dozens of cut-out character drawings that Stalter uploaded throughout the Covid era. But not everyone got the memo. “I get hundreds of nightly comments every day that I think are real,” Staller says on a video call from New York. “But I’m like: It’s a joke! It would just take two minutes to look at my profile and find out I’m a comedian.”

Not just any comedian, but one of the hottest in the US right now – and in Britain, where her first show at London’s Soho Theater sold out this month. Stalter, 31, is that rare, comic that has thrived under lockdown. Her online videos and live broadcasts have become stratospheric. youtube special, Little Miss Ohio, brought her embarrassing comedies to a wider audience. Then she was starred in HBO’s hacks, which later won several Comedy Awards at the 2021 Emmys. “I couldn’t have been more lucky,” admits Staller, laughing at Zoom in her signature bright blue eyeshadow.

For all her success on TV and online, it’s the stage where Stalter feels the most about her element. “I’m never happier than when I’m on stage,” she says — before adding hastily if not entirely convincingly: “I mean, besides being with the ones I love.

“I would never go on stage sick now,” she says. But before the pandemic, when people were still doing it [that]I’ll never get sick when I’m on stage. I would never think of anything that would make me sad. On stage, you are completely zen. It sounds cheesy, but that’s how I know that’s what I meant to do.”

Meg Stalter and Paul W. Downs in Hacks.
Meg Stalter and Paul W. Downs in Hacks. Photo: HBO

In London, Stalter will perform standing up – not that it’s a standup show in any traditional sense. “I play a character who is very confident and thinks she is very talented, but her show is falling apart. It is like a magic show without tricks.” She was making waves in live comedy on the eve of the pandemic. “I had just got a manager, moved to New York, and my shows were starting to sell out. I thought, ‘Oh my God, my career is exploding!’ But it really wasn’t.” That was yet to come, when a global pandemic imprisoned Stalter in her apartment, cutting her off her income and the thing she loved to do.

She told me, “People ask me all the time, ‘How do you feel when you explode online during Covid? Which is really weird, because I was just doing it to feel alive and normal. I wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God, I need attention’ or trying to make videos My own is spreading fast. I just had to be silly online because there was nowhere else to do it.”

With characters like this small business owner struggling to appear awake (“Hello, gay! Happy Pride month!”) or theActress out of work Speaking of a possible sequel to a movie released nine years ago, she cornered the market in anyone fragile, delusional but strangely sympathetic, declaring herself bragging while knowing, deep down, they had little to sell.

These are sketches of the age of the curated online self, and Stalter has delved into the tragic heart of social media just as Ricky Gervais once did with reality TV (both citing movies Christopher Guest as an effect). “I love the comics that seem to get better, and whose characters feel like real people,” Staller says.

She does, and throughout the lockdown, she’s used it to build a huge community of online fans – who today feel committed to her. “When I meet people on live shows now, I feel like I know them,” Staller says. “Gigs look so different than they did before, because we’ve all been online for a year and a half together, stuck in our homes! I know you have to have limits, but I never want to feel out of reach of the people who support me. Because that’s it Where did you come from, right?”

Stalter is refreshingly unpretentious, perhaps in part because she was born and raised in Ohio, who relies on its residents “odd church ladies and soccer moms” (her words) for her work. The daughter of a nurse and tattoo artist, she “really wanted to perform” from an early age. “I remember when I was a kid in the choir and I got a solo, and I was like: I was About Me to sing. I wasn’t great, but I always thought I was really special”–laughs at the remembrance–“and that people need to see me on stage. “

Megan Staller on stage.
Megan Staller on stage. Photography: Forrest Strong

It took some time for the world to agree. Chances of living a showbiz dream were scarce at home; Soon, Stalter moved to Chicago, at the request of her mother. But if you can get the girl out of Ohio, you can’t get the Ohio out of the girl. Stalter’s comic voice began to develop that came with a midwestern accent. She said that her characters have a “level of sweetness while trying to do good [but don’t have] Lots of money or fancy places to go.” Today, she describes her changing Midwest vanity as “always apologetic and very polite.” It also has to do with their worldview. “Ohio is a beautiful republic,” Staller says. by those people whose beliefs are very different from my own.”

It might attract the wrath of confused online progressives, who mistake the Church’s Midwesterners for real. But the Ohioans themselves, butt her jokes, never complained, says Staller, because the videos were made with affection and the understanding that “everyone really tries to be good. I know a lot of people who do bad things and believe in things so backward, who also literally think they are on Morally right. But I grew up loving these people. These were my best friends. And it would be impossible for me to play them maliciously if I knew they weren’t trying to be mean or bad.”

Ohioans are even more proud of Stalter now that she’s a TV star, as dotted Kayla’s assistant to Bigshot comedy agent Jimmy on the hit series Hacks. Series co-creator Paul W. Downs recognized Staller from her live-action comedy, and before she auditioned for the show, “My friend sent me a screenshot of the script and said, ‘Kyla — think Megan Staller. So I was really afraid of not getting the part. To be like, ‘Oh, this other actor does Meghan better than Meghan does?’ I’d, absolutely, die!”

Not to worry: The part was hers, and she became the star of the series. Now she says, “I’m living the dream.” “I want to keep acting and doing live comedy forever.” You won’t bet on it. I still think: ‘This is it! “Stalter says of her success.” Then more happens, and she says, “Oh no, This is amazing Really!’ And I think that’s because I’ve always loved every part. At every stage, I always felt: This is the dream. That’s all I wanted to do.”

Megan Staller performing at Soho Theatre, London, November 30 to me December 11.

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