Comedian and writer Bryan Safi has been making you laugh since he first burst onto the online viral video scene with his "That's Gay" segment on Current TV's InfoMania. Safi uses his biting wit to explore and expose stereotypes and LGBT issues as they are too often portrayed by the clueless media and pop culture. He's gone after closeted politicians, the neutered "gay best friend" television meme, ex-gays, the "no homo" tag in music, and much more!
And we love him for it!
But Bryan Safi has been churning out the laughs as a writer and improv comedian for years, including a stint as a staff writer on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and as one of the writers for InfoMania itself.
I recently had the pleasure to interview Bryan and learn more about him, his past, and exactly how he comes up with the great videos and satire we have all come to enjoy so much! Join us after the jump for a glimpse into the fabulous mind of Bryan Safi and be sure to watch his newest video about gays at prom at the end of the post!
Waymon: Tell us a little bit about your background. Were you always the funny guy or did you stumble into that later? Do you think being gay helped shape your comedic point of view?
Bryan Safi:I grew up in El Paso, Texas, and I honestly don't think I knew a single gay person there. I don't think. The only person who might have been gay is someone my parents referred to as, "Mark. He's...you know." That was it. No one would really say it.
So I stayed in the closet for high school and waited until college to come out. But the comedy came really early. I started doing impressions of everyone in my family when I was like 6. Like, I would imitate my Mom getting super impatient in line at Wendy's or getting pissed at someone in line at the bank, and then would perform it for my family when we got home. And I got such a buzz getting from the laughter. So it started there.
Waymon: How did you get involved with Current TV and InfoMania? Do you do any other writing or performing?
Bryan Safi:I got involved at infoMania initially as a writer for Conor Knighton, the host. Soon after that, I pitched the idea for "That's Gay" with Natalie Procter (my co-creator and producer), and they really liked it. Our first episode was about one of TV's most popular characters, the Gay Best Friend - how gay men on TV are usually seen as a woman's favorite accessory, how everyone needs a "token gay" to go shopping with and dump on - and it really resonated with people.
Before That's Gay, I was a staff writer at The Ellen DeGeneres Show and before that, I was a staff writer for the comedy website Funny or Die. And, I perform a lot at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles - mostly sketch comedy. So you can catch me there a few times a month!
Waymon: I noticed you are listed as a writer for the show. InfoMania is really, really gay. Do you make an effort to slip in LGBT humor throughout the show or is it just a natural part of the show's personality?
Bryan Safi:I've never noticed how gay it is! I think the show is really smart, so if smart is gay, then yes - super fucking gay.
Waymon:How do you choose topics to write about and spoof in your "That's Gay" segment?
Other times it's just hearing something I think is hilarious and bizarre - like the phrase "No Homo," which has been in hip-hop for years. It's used as a disclaimer for rap lyrics that may seem slightly gay but - these rappers want to be clear - are NOT gay at all. That was a really fun one to do. People started writing in with new phrases like, "no hetero," "Pro Homo," "No (Tony) Romo," and one asshole wrote "No Eat Balls." Which I don't really know what that meant, but it may be my favorite.
Waymon:Do you think your segments have a broader impact than just making the audience laugh (and they do laugh- a lot!). Many of our readers have commented on how you make even people in our community think and reexamine media's coverage of our issues. I'm sure that feeling is amplified by non-LGBT viewers. Do you think satire is a form of subversive messaging or activism for our community?
Bryan Safi:Absolutely. I think it's difficult for people to listen when it's being hammered over your head or deadly serious or antagonistic. The best feedback I get is actually from straight male viewers because their compliments are so hilarious. It's always like, "You're really funny. I'm not gay, but I just wanted to let you know that your stuff is good." Or, "I laugh at your segments. No homo." But it's nice to know that so many different people watch and feel compelled to write, and hopefully they look at an issue in a way they never had before.
Waymon:What's one thing our readers probably don't know about you that might surprise them?
Bryan Safi:I'm not related to Maya Angelou.
Whew! I'm glad that's cleared up!
Thanks so much for sharing with our readers and thanks for all the laughs you've given us!
Pro Homo, Bryan!
And now, as promised, Safi's latest video where he exposes the cruelest commentary about student Constance McMillen and tracks the creation of the most terrifying, life-altering moment in any teenager's life: prom night.
Haven't gotten enough Safi yet? Check him out as he takes on:
infoMania is a half-hour satirical news show that airs on Current TV. The show puts a comedic spin on the 24-hour chaos and information overload brought about by the constant bombardment of the media. Hosted by Conor Knighton and co-starring Brett Erlich, Sarah Haskins, Ben Hoffman, Bryan Safi and Sergio Cilli, the show airs on Thursdays at 10 pm Eastern and Pacific Times and can be found online at on Current TV, iTunes, and Hulu. And make sure to check out their Facebook profile for special features.
If you're not watching InfoMania, you're missing out!