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.