Comedians Sara Benincasa and Kevin Avery often find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to being performers with Internet followings: They use sites like Twitter and YouTube to work on material and chat with fans, but thanks to social media, often the line between “performer” and “friend” blurs. They spoke to Crushable about getting to meet their idols over Twitter, their relationships being made public, and why it’s awful that Rebecca Black is getting death threats.
On social media and how this accessibility makes fans think they can take more liberties in interacting with performers:
Benincasa: A lot of guys go through the Internet for porn, and their primary experience of women online is pornography, so when they see someone like me who is a pretty girl who just happens to make jokes, I think that the change doesn’t happen in their heads. They just think, Oh, OK, I can jerk off. And oh wow! A Facebook page – I can jerk off onto it.
Most female comedians are very attractive, contrary to the stereotype. Most female comics are pretty hot chicks, so a lot of us deal with this where we get the creepy e-mails on Facebook or MySpace. I tweet a lot, so one thing I’ve learned is that I can’t tweet images of where I am, because I get blowback from it. If I’m at a restaurant, I can’t tweet while at the restaurant, because some guy… I was in Woodstock recently, and I had a guy who – I tweeted a photo and said, “I love the restaurant I’m at!” I didn’t name it, I just tweeted the photo.
This guy [wrote me on Twitter and] was like, “Oh, I know that place, do you want to hang out?” I’m like, “No, I don’t want to fucking hang out.” I get guys who listen to my podcast and think they can fuck me because I talk about sex. They tweet at me or show up at my shows and want to take me out, and it’s creepy. I put myself out there as a sexual object, but it’s “look, don’t touch,” and I think a lot of guys don’t comprehend the “don’t touch” aspect. Kevin, your thoughts? Do you have girls who try to fuck you? I bet you do, I bet you have groupies.
Avery: I don’t feel like I have a lot of groupies, but I do… I think this is really a man thing. This just came up with me, the other day; I get an Instant Message. Facebook and Twitter have made you very accessible, and it makes people approach you like, “Hey! We’re buds, right?” and they know better. They know the difference between a genuine friendship and a fan versus a performer.
I got an Instant Message from this guy the other day, who I thought I knew. He was like, “Hey man, how’s it going?” and I thought I had just met him at this film festival [in LA] two weekends ago. So I was like, “Oh, I’m good,” thinking, How do I know this guy, what do I know him from? And he’s talking about some party he had just gone to in Texas; apparently, he’s from Dallas. He’s telling me these things and I’m keeping it together, and I realize, I don’t know this dude. We’re talking, and he thought to say shit like, “Yeah man, this party – if you’re ever in Dallas, you need to come and party with us because” – and this is amazing – “because it’s very good for discreet, private things.” Something like that, I just remember he used the word “discreet.”
I’m like “Discreet? What the hell?” He says, “There are 22,000 square feet” and I’m like, “That’s helpful, OK.” Then he’s talking, and he says, “…and lots of ladies.” I’m freaked out, but I also know that means there aren’t going to be lots of ladies. It was just weird, and immediately he flipped – “Oh, sorry, if I offended you.” “No, it’s cool, no worries.” “No, I really feel like I offended you, I won’t bother you again.” And then he just disappeared. Then he Instant Messaged me again yesterday, the same thing: “Hey, how’s it going?” I happened to not be near my computer. So I think it’s always men who are generally more aggressive and try to push it a little bit. Women will be gentler or will feel it out a little bit.