In the age of streaming, comedy is more commodifiable than ever. Likes and retweets can lead to attention from networks and platforms hungry for a “fresh and funny” new perspective, turning up-and-comers into full-fledged comedy stars overnight. That cycle is familiar to comedian and actor John Early, whose own journey—from NYU acting student to Brookyln alt-comedy staple to booked and busy star—is the kind of trajectory most performers dream of. Whether he’s stealing scenes on Search Party, paling around with childhood hero Toni Collette, or making hysterical (and sometimes frightening) videos with collaborator Kate Berlant, Early is, as he’ll admit, a beneficiary of “our cultural obsession with comedy.” His signature blend of self-awareness and mocking self-delusion is part of what’s made him such an endearing voice, and it’s also why it wasn’t too surprising when he shared the following tweet on his timeline:
As our conversation with John Early about Search Party’s third season came to a close, we couldn’t help but ask why the tweet struck a chord with him. Early explained why he was compelled to share @sassyblackdiva’s call to “defund comedy,” and unpacked his own weariness over our tendency to hold up comedians as voices of moral authority.
Image Credit: HBO Max