The “straight lesbian comedian” on everyone’s feed right now
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been stuck in a vicious cycle since the beginning of lockdown. Download TikTok, delete TikTok, re-download it, repeat. But, there’s one queen of comedy whose content I couldn’t bare to leave behind.
New York based 25-year-old comic, Grace Kuhlenschmidt has managed to make me laugh pretty much every day throughout the past six months.
She’s become well-known for her unapologetically weird and surprising monologues, earning herself almost 174K TikTok followers. Pretty impressive considering she’s only been posting videos in the past year.
Whether she’s pretending to be a bully or denying her addiction to watching Blue Is The Warmest Colour, we find everything Grace does hilarious. We couldn’t wait for a virtual sit-down with the TikTok star to get to know her better.
DIVA: How did you first get into comedy?
GRACE KUHLENSCHMIDT: I got into comedy seriously in college. I was in an improv group, then I was in a sketch group and we did a couple of stand-up nights each semester. By my sophomore year of college I knew 100% that I wanted to go into comedy professionally.
How would you describe your style of comedy for people that haven’t seen it before?
I’m definitely a character based comic. I don’t think I’ve ever written a joke in my life. I think I’m creating a world and definitely using a lot of satire and irony rather than a punch-line.
Which social media platform do you think you fit with best?
I don’t know because I’ve been on Twitter way longer – I’ve been on Twitter for at least a couple of years. I only started getting followers in November last year and I’ve only been on TikTok since May.
I was super resistant to TikTok at first. I don’t know exactly why. I just don’t think I had a clear understanding of the app. I hadn’t seen much of my style of comedy or people my age on there.
When did you realise you were funny? Were you always trying to make people laugh in school?
Definitely from a young age. I would say in school because I struggled so much in school academically, so it was the classic situation where half of it was a coping mechanism. I’ve always been really social too and really extroverted. It comes quite naturally.
Who would you say are your comedy icons?
John Early and Kate Berlant – they’re partners and they do a lot of stuff together. They were making videos on YouTube pretty early on and I’ve been following them for a really long time. I’ve seen Kate live and John is on a show called Search Party right now that is just my absolute favourite show.
What is it about short form comedy that appeals to you?
I don’t see it being long term. I would love to be in a TV show or a movie. But ultimately short form comedy is easy to make and I haven’t spent a dollar making these videos.
Where do you get your inspiration from for your videos?
Mostly I improvise with myself. The only time I think I’ve written a script was when I needed my girlfriend to help me and she read the other lines off camera. It’s mostly trial and error. Sometimes I’ll record something one time and it’s perfect, and then I truly unashamedly have filmed some videos 50 times.
What tips would you give to people who are trying to grow their platform?
I think just keep posting and be active on there. I know a lot of comedians who don’t have that many followers and they only post two things a month. Build your page so that if someone comes across your stuff and they like it they can find a bunch of other things.
I also think videos are the easiest way to gain followers. There are some comedians who are so clever in terms of their writing and they have tweets that go viral all of the time, but I don’t think they actually gain followers from it.
Have you always been open about queerness in your comedy?
I came out right after my sophomore year college when I was like 19, right around my twentieth birthday. I had done some comedy before then where I was completely closeted that whole time. Once I came out it was like “Okay cool everything I’m gonna do is going to be about being a lesbian.”
I saw you also call yourself a “straight lesbian comedian”. What does that mean?
That is just a joke but some people think I’m bisexual and some people think I’ve made up my own sexuality and they get really offended by it. I just think it’s funny. I was straight for 20 years of my life. But I am fully just a lesbian.
What’s the queer scene like where you’re from?
I grew up in LA. I went to an all girls high school so it was pretty homophobic, and I would include myself in that. I think people were just scared. I also was so repressed growing up, but not in a depressing sad way.
In films you always see a girl crying in her room because she can’t come out. That didn’t happen to me. I just had no idea I was gay and it took me until I was in college, where it was a really sexually open place and it was almost crazy if you weren’t queer, to figure it out.
What did your queer awakening look like?
I watched a lot of YouTube. I watched Shannon Beveridge but that was about it. There weren’t too many other lesbian YouTubers I knew about other than Shannon and I think that’s why I find it so important to make queer content. I didn’t think I could be gay when I was younger because I didn’t see anyone who liked like me that was gay.
Do you think you have a big queer following?
I don’t really know how to tell, but I can’t imagine I don’t. I know that straight people enjoy my comedy (duh) but I would say I’m making content for queer people.
Reaching queer people is my goal. It feels really important to me. Coming out at 20 isn’t that late, but I do wish I had come out earlier. If at any point some kid is watching me and can be a little more comfortable in their queerness and thinks lesbians can be cool, I find that to be really important and it’s one of the biggest things that matters to me.
What are your thoughts on queer representation on social platforms?
I think there’s so many queer comedians but when we’re talking about stand-up comedy, only a handful of people can go to see stand-up comedy shows. If you’re over 21 and if you’re in a city with a comedy venue. If there’s queer creators out there I don’t necessarily care about the platform I just think it’s important because then you’re able to reach a wider audience.
I think there’s so many problems with social media but the biggest take away that I have is that now little kids who are in small towns are able to see alternative comedy. That definitely wasn’t the case before.