Bryan Safi Talks “Throwing Shade,” “Smash,” and Penny Marshall’s Predictable Hoarding Problem

Bryan Safi has entertained you in a bunch of seriously entertaining forums: He’s played Marcus Bachmann in some unforgettable Funny Or Die videos, hosted the “That’s Gay” segment on Current TV’s much-missed infoMania, performs at L.A.’s Upright Citizens Brigade occasionally in “Entertainment Hollywood,” and now he cohosts the uproariously funny podcast “Throwing Shade” with his infoMania costar Erin Gibson. He also won a Daytime Emmy as a staff writer on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which is impressive if you worship award shows. Which I would never do.

We sat down with Safi (@bryansafi) to shoot the breeze about pop culture, his podcast, and the real-life benefits of reality TV. Also, he has a crush on Chris Matthews. Pass it on.

AfterElton: I love “Throwing Shade,” and I hear you have another gig coming up.
Bryan Safi:
I’m on a new show starting in April called “Popspot,” and it’s one of those YouTube — I guess they have 10 new channels? Have you heard about this? — I’m hosting a pop culture show called “Popspot.”

AE: “Popspot” sounds like a posthumously released single by Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. Or, like, hip-hoppy slang that she’d use frequently. “Pop spot!”
This is actually the last thing Lisa left in her will. For YouTube to create branded content and a pop culture show called “Popspot.”  I’m just happy to be fulfilling her legacy.

AE: Thankfully she wrote her will in that car that day.
Right then. Where was she? Honduras? She knew. With a van? She knew. What do you have to come back for when you’re in a van in Honduras?

AE: Having a van in Honduras is the same thing as a suicide note, to me.
She knew.

AE: So, you’re extremely funny. I love your rapport with your Throwing Shade collaborator Erin Gibson. Your relationship seems very understanding, quippy, and cool. What’s that like?
I think what’s so great about my relationship with Erin is it’s sort of a relationship I’ve always wanted. When I’ve watched even those Judd Apatow movies where I’ve never related to — bro humor? That relationship? That’s the kind of relationship I have with her. We don’t hug. We don’t touch. It’s sort of like we’re having a dude-bro-frat thing, and because of it, we’re supportive of each other, but we also love tearing each other down. That’s a horrible way of saying it, but we have a license with each other in a very unemotional way. But there’s definitely a love and support there. Our favorite thing is to make fun of what the other person is saying. It can come across as mean, but it’s also supportive.

AE: Now, because you’re so funny, I assume  you’re pretty bored with a lot of existing comedy. Is that the case?
I have to be honest. The thought of laughing exhausts me. Don’t you feel that way sometimes? I don’t ever really feel like seeing a comedy show. I don’t feel like watching something hilarious. I would much rather watch Barefoot Contessa or Downton Abbey. But I don’t know! I feel like I laugh pretty easily, but I don’t know how often I laugh genuinely.

AE: You’re right about the exhaustion. Laughter is sincerely not relaxing.
I tell you, at minute 35, I think, “I can’t anymore. No.” I think comedy should be 30 minutes, tops. At that moment I just want there to be a love interest, or somebody dies. Even if it’s a comedy show.

AE: All comedy should end with a funeral, for sure.
Or just a montage of people you love who are now gone?

AE: Right. One of my favorite things about you is that you’ve interviewed cast members from The A-List: New York. What kind of preparation did you do for that, and what kind of emotional debriefing do you go through afterward?
The main prep — the hardest prep work was watching the show. That was exhausting and abusive on so many levels for me. Beyond that, I realized there was actually no reason I could interview these people like I’m very interested. I figured the only way I could do it was to interview them as someone who wants to be like them, and make fun of them while making fun of what I want to be. This super disgusting, tan person. It seemed to be the easiest thing, and that way I could actually ask questions. “Reichen, tell me about your flight-themed jewelry.” I mean, who cares? It was an easier outlet to get information. They were all really, really nice though. I find this interesting about all reality stars, though, you ask them, “Did you enjoy it?” And they say, “No, I didn’t. I hated how they portrayed me.” “Well, would you do it again?” “Yeah, definitely.” That is so weird to me. Why would you keep doing something you hate?


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