By Ryan Meehan
Streeter Seidell is a comic and writer best known as a cast member of CollegeHumor.com and the co-host of MTV’s Pranked. A touring standup, Seidell was named a New Face of Comedy at the 2011 Just For Laughs festival in Montreal. In addition to MTV’s Pranked and The CollegeHumor Show, Seidell was a cast member on History Channel’s “I Love to the 1880’s” and VH1’s “Best Week Ever.” As a writer he has been published in the New York Times, Mental_Floss magazine and Wired, as well as putting out “White Whine: A Study of First-World Problems,” a book based on the popular website Seidell created in 2007. In 2014 he joined the writing staff of “Trophy Wife” on ABC.
RM: When you were in grade school were you the class clown type, or more of an introvert? What was the first time that you ever performed for an audience that wasn’t solely composed of family members? What was it about that experience that made you want to continue writing and performing?
SS: I was definitely a clown, though maybe not the class clown. I think there were other kids who were more into being the center of attention than I was. I was more of a wiseass, I think. I was probably more likely to utter stuff under my breath to the kids nearby than I was to get up and go marching around the room. The first time I ever got on stage for the purpose of being funny was in high school. I hosted this lip sync contest with my friend and we wrote these bits for in between acts. I’m sure they were almost all terrible but I do remember getting laughs. From then on I was addicted to the rush you get from making people laugh. It’s such a satisfying feeling.
RM: In your opinion, what constitutes a bit being “college humor”? Do you ever feel that sometimes the genre of “College Humor” could benefit from having a different label or moniker? Do you ever refer to yourself in conversation as a college humorist?
SS: That was a conversation that happened a lot when I worked there. It never really hurt us in terms of the fans of the site but whenever someone would write a story about the company they would always be like “the funny frat guys of CollegeHumor.” I would always say that we weren’t trying to make comedy about college or college culture, we were trying to make comedy that college kids would enjoy regardless of the subject.
RM: What can you tell us about the piece you did for Wired Magazine entitled “The Ten Best Things We’ll Say to our Grandkids”? On a scale of one to ten where ten is Bill Gates and one is Captain Caveman, how technologically sound would you consider yourself to be?
SS: I remember when they decided to run that article they warned me that a lot of mine would be taken out because the people on their staff were so excited to add their own. I think about half of the final ones were mine and the rest came from their staff. I would put myself at a 5 or a 6 in terms of tech savvy. I’m not a gamer so that probably drops me a few points and I’m at an age where I can feel myself resisting new tech in the way your dad does. I’m not there yet but I’m like “but I can’t type on an iPad!”
RM: What can you tell us about your book “White Whine: A Study of First World Problems”? What was the initial “First World Complaint” that motivated you to begin that project? How long do you think you would last in a third world country such as Malawi?
SS: I started the site in 2007 and the book came out in 2013. The initial complaint that gave me the idea was, I think, “why can’t they make ski boots that are easy to walk in.” If that wasn’t the first complaint it was definitely my favorite one. I think my complaining level would stay the same no matter what my circumstances were. Instead of complaining about how slow my Internet is or how much organic cherries costs I would be complaining about not having clean water or electricity. All humans are like that. We’ll always find something to bitch about.
RM: How does writing for a stand-up show differ from writing an article for a periodical on online humor website? Have you ever written a joke that you know is funny, but for some reason won’t work for either medium?
SS: It’s all pretty similar at its root. You’re trying to lead the listener or viewer towards one conclusion and then abruptly push them towards a different one to get a laugh. And I’ve definitely written stuff I know is funny but for whatever reason, cannot get anyone else to agree. There are bits I’ve tried a dozen different ways with no results on stage and on the page. At some point you just have to be like, “OK, this thing is funny to me but nobody else agrees and that’s OK.” And whether or not you keep doing the bit after that realization is the difference between alt comics and club comics.
RM: I see you have a quite an impressive history of musical parodies on your resume…How many different instruments do you play, and what kind of recording setup do you utilize to get your ideas to tape?
SS: I have done a lot of them, whether they are impressive is a different story altogether. I played piano when I was little and am trying to re-learn now. The problem is I was never very good to begin with. Then I played saxophone with similar results. The only instrument I ever really got decent at was drums. Drums just made sense to me in a way that other instruments didn’t. It was an enjoyable struggle to learn drums as opposed to a painful one on piano or sax. I also taught myself basic guitar because why not, right? I don’t have a recording set up at all. I go to this guy’s house if I want to record something and he does all the hard work. For me at least it’s a wonderful arrangement.
RM: What is the one thing that you really want to do in the entertainment industry, but just haven’t gotten the opportunity to do yet? In ten years, do you think that you’ll be able to say you’ve done it?
SS: I’d like to sell a movie. Or tape a standup special. I think both are do-able but they’re also both things that other people have to decide you can do. So I guess ask those people if I’ll be able to do them?
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
SS: I’m going to the Montreal Comedy Festival and doing a few shows in England with my friends, Jake and Amir. Otherwise I’ve been helping out at MTVOther, which is MTV’s weirdo digital video channel, and that’s been a lot of fun. I also just launched a podcast called The Talk of Shame where people come by and tell me embarrassing stories. That’s been great so far.
Official Website: http://www.streeterseidell.com/
Streeter on Facebook: www.facebook.com/StreeterJSeidell
Streeter on Twitter: https://twitter.com/streetseidell
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