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gina brillonDavid Johnson Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video

Bronx-born comedian Gina Brillon is co-host of the hilarious self-help podcast Mess In Progress: A Guide To Self-Help For Girls At Home and star of his own Amazon special The floor is lava. His next act? A spot on Soledad O’Brien’s Matter of Fact listening tour, to demystify what it means to pursue the “American dream”. Below, Brillon on perfecting the art of virtual stand-up (“It feels like playing it in front of the bathroom mirror”), discovering TikTok as a millennial (“I am addicted! ”), and why the“ American Dream ”isn’t really for all Americans.

Tell me about The Matter of Fact Listening Tour. Why did you choose to focus on the “American Dream”?

 

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They actually asked me to talk about the “American Dream” and how I, as a woman of color, related to it. It’s not a question you get all the time. For me, the “American dream” means a white picket fence, two children. It is this idea that you can achieve great things if you work hard. But it wasn’t like anyone I grew up with. I grew up with people who wondered where their next meal was going to come from and if they were going to be able to pay the rent that month. There are people of color who say, “Yeah, I worked hard and I’m still neglected. I tried to get myself out of this hole and still had no luck. It’s like you’re on the waiting list forever. I gave up on the idea of ​​the “American dream” a long time ago. The only dream I need to worry about right now is my own.

Did last year’s political and racial unrest play a role in the act?

As a person of color, I cannot ignore what is happening in this country. I need to be aware of our social issues, and I need to be able to comment on it, but that doesn’t always mean I should put it in my comedy number. It’s important for artists to express themselves, but it’s not our job to fix anything.

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How do you decide which jokes fit in your set?

When we want we can. Funny is funny. Because I have spent so much of my life dealing with trauma through laughter, it can be a very healing experience. I am of the opinion that anything can be funny if done correctly – but must it be said? People have said to me, “You said that in your special, and I don’t agree with that,” or “I think it’s a microaggression.” I take a step back and say, “Oh, okay.” I thought I was the safest person in the world when it came to things like that. But even I have to watch what I’m saying. I can’t control what offends another person, but I can control my reaction to their offense.

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What was it like to play without an audience?

When you’re new to acting, you’re used to laughing less. So when we started doing virtual performances, it felt like I was going back to my early days in comedy. I was like, “Cool, cool, cool.” I feel like I’m playing it in front of the bathroom mirror. You need to know where your beats are. It’s best if you’ve been in the business for a minute because you know where the joke needs to go. You don’t necessarily have to laugh. But it makes performing a lot easier and fun when you hear laughs. Having to do outdoor shows and virtual shows was a real adjustment.

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Speaking of adjustments, you are a new mom. Congratulations!

My son Jayden is eight months old this month. In fact, he was eight months two days ago, I think. Or a day ago? A few days ago? I do not know. I am a bad mom. The days are all mixed up. Having Jayden totally changed my priorities. I went from thinking, “Man, I haven’t had a pedicure in a while” to, like, “Oh my God, how am I going to feed this kid during a pandemic?”

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Jayden makes some very cute appearances on your TikTok account.

It is too good not to share it. I avoided TikTok for a very long time because I’m not the most savvy person on social media and had no desire to join. Then someone sent me lip-syncing videos that people were doing with my material and I was like, “What is it now?” I really got a kick out of it. I was flattered that they made my material. Now I’m so addicted to TikTok.

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Do you think virtual comedies will be the new normal?

Some things have to be in person, and one of those things is in person shows. I really hope we can get back to our regular performances.

Viewers can stream the special live on the Matter of Fact website, YouTube and Facebook Live channels, or by adding this page to your favorites and watching the show below. The pre-show begins at 6:30 p.m. EST, with the full segment starting at 7 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 18.

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