Mini Q+A with Kelsey Caine

Kelsey Caine is a beautiful New York comedian and writer originally from Texas. Her family describes her comedy as, “Stop telling jokes about us. It hurts your brother’s feelings.” She is most well known for her viral satirical character Penis C.K., who’s making fun of exactly the sex offender you’re thinking of. Kelsey is a New York Times contributor, a Miss New York USA pageant state finalist, and a controversial performance artist. Kelsey is a graduate of The New School with an MFA in Creative Writing, double majoring in Writing for Children and Nonfiction. Inspired by the #MeToo Movement Kelsey began advocating for sexual assault education in schools, focusing primarily on all-boys schools. She is writing a book on the topic entitled “What To Do With #MeToo” represented by Sarah Phair at Trident Media Group.


Favorite response to a heckler or troll?

Since I’ve been doing stand-up as my beloved satirical character Penis C.K., who’s mocking exactly the sex offender you’re thinking of and all sex offenders, my favorite thing to say to trolls on the internet that say they hate Penis C.K. is, “Yeah, that’s a good thing. He’s a sex offender.”

 

Describe your worst gig

I’ve had some people leave during Penis C.K., which I totally understand. Especially if you’ve experienced sexual assault, then I’m sure it’s hard not to think about your own experience. And for that I’m truly sorry. I’m a sexual assault survivor and my intent is to try and help bring attention to the very common sexual assault that people face everyday and are told not to talk about, not to trigger survivors. I’m trying to trigger sex offenders into seeing the pain they’ve caused. I say that very clearly during my performance. Most audiences get what I’m doing and like Penis C.K. I’ve mostly had great shows audience wise, but Penis C.K. has deeply upset some comedians. My worst show was definitely being hate Instagram storied by another comic on a show. He didn’t watch my full set, but he really hated the concept. He didn’t think it was what stand-up comedy should be and wanted me to stop. It was really strange because I had never met him before, and he was so mad at something he didn’t even fully watch. You can totally hate Penis C.K. There’s a lot of comedy that I hate. But I would never tell another comedian what to do, except not sexually assault anyone.

 

What’s your first impulse when someone says “women aren’t funny”?

Don’t acknowledge them.  Block them.

 

When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?

I’m really funny. I know it. It’s just true. Everything else is just practice.

 

Best comedy advice you ever got?

Open with your best joke. Then the audience will trust you and think all of your jokes are that good, but it’s a trick. You tricked them! The rest aren’t as good, but they’ll never know.

 

Worst comedy advice you ever got?

I should dress hotter. My mom said it, but still.

 

Favorite response to “What’s it like to be a woman in comedy”?

I tell them the truth, it can be horrible. Why do you think so many comedy legends are sex offenders? There’s no HR in comedy, and there are so many stupid fucking boys who legitimately think harassing people is okay or even funny. I know rapists who are national headliners. It’s terrifying. But that’s not everyone. There are also great people in comedy. Who are kind and funny and make it worth it to be a woman in comedy.

 

How has being funny helped you in your offstage life, either recently or when you were younger?

Being funny has always helped me. I couldn’t read until I was nine. Because I have dyslexia. And being funny really helped me deal with that. I never thought I was dumb even for one second. I really thought reading was going to blow over, and that it was unnecessary to learn how to read. I’d gotten that far without knowing how to read. That’s a hilarious perspective. It’s gotten me far in life.

 

What advice do you have for how to level up from open mics + bringers to actual SPOT-spots?

Okay my god, please don’t do bringer shows. If you have people that will come out to watch you do comedy PUT ON YOUR OWN SHOW. Your own show will put your name out there better than being on any bringer show. In my experience, club bookers don’t even watch their bringer shows. So who are you doing it for? It’s hard to realize that just going to open mics and hanging out around at comedy clubs isn’t going to make you famous. Look at what the people you perceive as successful are doing. They probably host their own show, or podcast, or make Instagram videos, or write funny articles. Do that, try everything!

 

What single word always cracks you up?

Context is everything. No single word is funny, even if one word makes me laugh it’s because of the context. But there is a video of Jerry Seinfeld breaking down the “funny words” in one of his jokes, and it’s hilarious. He says something like, “CHIMP, DIRT, PLAYING, and STICKS. Out of seven words in my joke, four of them are funny.” I just don’t think about comedy like that, and I love hearing people talk about it. It’s so funny.

 

Was there one person who inspired you to become a comedian? If so, who, why, how?

My parents. They kept telling me I could become anything I wanted to be, and I took them up on it. My dad is still the funniest guy I know, and now I know a lot of guys who think they’re funny. And when the day is done, my mom is still my biggest fan. Even though a lot of my content truly makes her uncomfortable.

 

On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian?

Don’t worry about the people who hate you. People are going to hate you, and the people who hate you aren’t going to help you. Find the people who like you and think you’re funny, and work with them. Start your own show. Start your own open mic. Have something to offer people. You don’t have to wait for people to book you, you can start booking the people you want to work with. Put yourself in a position of power.

 

Photo via: Mindy Tucker


Kelsey Caine is a beautiful New York comedian and writer originally from Texas. Her family describes her comedy as, “Stop telling jokes about us. It hurts your brother’s feelings.” She is most well known for her viral satirical character Penis C.K., who’s making fun of exactly the sex offender you’re thinking of. Kelsey is a New York Times contributor, a Miss New York USA pageant state finalist, and a controversial performance artist. Kelsey is a graduate of The New School with an MFA in Creative Writing, double majoring in Writing for Children and Nonfiction. Inspired by the #MeToo Movement Kelsey began advocating for sexual assault education in schools, focusing primarily on all-boys schools. She is writing a book on the topic entitled “What To Do With #MeToo” represented by Sarah Phair at Trident Media Group.

How to be funny on Twitter, Vol. 3

Being funny on Twitter is an ART. It is TOUGH to squeeze your genius into 280 characters, but it’s worth it: no matter what, it’s great practice for concise, show-don’t-tell writing, and a perfect place to test out your jokes. That’s why we’ve already written about the beautiful hellscape that is Twitter here and here—and we STILL have more to share!

 

This time, let’s talk about: the comedy devices people use to be funny on Twitter. Sometimes they’re flash-in-the pan memes that fill your timeline with short-lived riffs or giant cows. But some are the comedy gifts that keep on giving. So when you’ve got a funny thought but aren’t sure how to shape it, look here for ideas!  

 

And if you don’t see your favorite one here? Please DO @ us!

 

Compare and share

Comparisons can be an excellent source of content, and you make them all the time without even realizing it. Use the tweet styles below to draw attention to the comparison you want to make.

 

Me… Also me

This format is great to use when you realize you have made a funny self contradiction or are doing something you know you shouldn’t. Alternately known as the “evil Kermit” meme.

 

Time jump

This tweet style is great for drawing a comparison between the differences in yourself or others at different ages. For teens who may not have that many years under your belt yet, you can structure it as “Me at 13 vs. Me at 18.”

 

Me, an intellectual

Faux-intellectualism is always funny. Bonus points if you can combine it with another device or meme, like the tweet below:

 

Product suggestion

This one is great for when you have an addition or “improvement” to an already-made product. The more absurd you can go with these while still suggesting a semi-desirable new thing, the better. Structure: “Those [familiar product], but [joke].”

 

Log of dialogues

Although people often use Twitter as a place to monologue about their thoughts, don’t forget to incorporate dialogue into your feed. These back and forths can be a simple way to get a point across.

 

You vs. your body

This tweet style puts you at war with… yourself. What does your brain argue about with the rest of your body?

 

Interrupting Cow

Obvs, the famed “interrupting cow”  joke but in tweet form. It’s great for when you want to demonstrate how a common-sense point keeps getting shot down for stupid reasons.

 

Baby talk

Do you have a short message you want to make that doesn’t need a lot of context? This dialogue format between a parent and a baby is a solid option. Works best when your message starts with a “D” for “Dada” or an “M” for “Mama,” but you can get creative with your baby’s first words!

 

A picture’s worth a thousand tweets

Got a great GIF, picture, or video you want to post but not sure how to frame it? Use one of these!

 

ONE JOB

Have you seen something so counterintuitive (read: epic #fail) that you just had to take a picture of it to prove it was real? Now you have ONE JOB: post that pic with the “You had ONE JOB” caption, and let hilarity ensue.

 

Passive aggressive prayers

This one is tricky to do successfully and without shaming anyone, but if you notice a friend or family member that resembles someone/something else, you can plug it into the “Pray for my ____, there’s nothing wrong with him, he just ____” format. When in doubt, check with them first!

 

General GIFfery

Have a funny GIF or video that you want to post, but not sure what to say about it? Set it up so that your GIF/video is the answer to a question! The example below frames it within an interview, but your answer can be to your mom, friend, teacher, or whoever makes the most sense.

 

Re: Retweets

See a tweet that you just GOTTA respond to, but you’re not sure how? Here are some devices you can try out.

 

Check your spelling

See a tweet that misrepresents fact or a news story so blatantly that you can’t help but respond? Use the “You misspelled ____” device to write out what the tweet SHOULD have said. (Also known as “Here, I fixed it.”)

 

Staring contest

This device is perfect for when you want to use your specific background—your race, culture, sexual orientation, etc.—as the focal point of your response without wanting to get too deep into minutiae. Not sure that “stares” is the way you’d respond? Try out “laughs,” “scoffs,” or “nods” paired with your background.

 

Said no one ever

Similar to Check Your Spelling above, if you see a tweet (or quote in an article) that is laughably wrong or one that you know many people would disagree with, just quote tweet with a simple “…said no one ever.”

This + that

You’ll see a lot of these “this + that” Twitter formats that often go viral, where you can really let your creativity and humor shine through your retweeted answer. Don’t be afraid to push the format limits, like this run-on reply did here.

 

 

Tweet tags

These devices are great when you have a topic or idea that feels fairly fully formed already, but you’re not sure how to end it.

 

TED Talk time

Use this one when you have a strong opinion that you know is #hottake OR, if you’re being silly, the opposite. Pop a “thank you for coming to my TED talk at the end” and you’re golden! Note: if you run out of room, this one’s common enough that it’s funny to just trail off, as in: “Thank you for coming to my Ted ta”

 

In this essay

Similar: Have a counterintuitive or unique point to make and only 280 characters to do it in? Write as much of your idea out as you can to get your point across and then end with an “in this essay I will” to show that you could go on long enough to fill a scholarly journal.

 

Don’t @ me

Got a controversial or unconventional point to make? Slap “don’t @ me” at the end of your tweet and prep for a debate.

 

Asking for a friend

Any silly questions you want to ask the Twitter-verse work best when you are “asking for a friend.” This is also a great way to make thirst tweets more palatable: you’re not lusting after Shawn Mendez’s new Calvin Klein pics, your “friend” is!

 

*checks notes*

This device works well when you want to highlight hypocrisy or a piece of information that should be obvious, and is often used with a picture or retweet. A great choice for political opinions and satirical takes as well.

 

Grab bag

These devices don’t necessarily fall neatly into one category, but they don’t have to when they’re as funny as these are.

 

Yeah, sex is cool…

When you want to draw attention to the best moment or feeling in the world, just point out how much cooler it is than sex and voila! Viral tweet activated.

 

Don’t say it…

Have something you really really wanna say, but also have a chorus of people telling you “don’t say it” in your head? This device turns that thought process visual, and has the added benefit of helping you put out your favorite dad jokes, puns, or other silly thoughts into the world.

 

Rupi Kaur poetry slam

Oh Rupi Kaur, what would we do without your beautiful yet formulaic poems? Turn them into a tweet, of course! Copy her poetry style for your short takes that sound deeper than they actually are.

 

Personal reasons

We all have our own personal reasons for doing things, but now you can leverage them as the setup for tweeting about anything that typically occurs regardless of personal reasons.

 

When in doubt

If you’ve made it to the end of this list, you know that there are so many different formats you can use for all your tweeting needs, but if you are ever really and truly stuck, use the tried and true “just gonna leave this here” tweet. Then you can post anything—and we mean ANYTHING.

 


Alex Wolfe is an Atlanta native with two native New Yorker parents, which basically just means she’s a Mets fan who also says “y’all.” Alex is a recent graduate from Vanderbilt University, where she was managing editor of The Slant, a humor and satire publication. She also helped create Vanderbilt’s first performance outlet for standup comedy, the biannual Standup Showdown event, in which she also performed. @alexwolfepack