Waymon Hudson

Interview: InfoMania's Bryan Safi on Satirical Comedy, Activism, & (gasp!) Gays at Prom

Filed By Waymon Hudson | April 19, 2010 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Media
Tags: Bryan Safi, comedy, Current TV, InfoMania, satire, television, That's so gay

Comedian and writer Bryan Safi has been making you laugh since he first burst onto the online viral video scene with his "That's Gay" segment on Current TV's InfoMania. Safi uses his biting wit to explore and expose stereotypes and LGBT issues as they are too often portrayed by the clueless media and pop culture. 839.jpegHe's gone after closeted politicians, the neutered "gay best friend" television meme, ex-gays, the "no homo" tag in music, and much more!

And we love him for it!

But Bryan Safi has been churning out the laughs as a writer and improv comedian for years, including a stint as a staff writer on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and as one of the writers for InfoMania itself.

I recently had the pleasure to interview Bryan and learn more about him, his past, and exactly how he comes up with the great videos and satire we have all come to enjoy so much! Join us after the jump for a glimpse into the fabulous mind of Bryan Safi and be sure to watch his newest video about gays at prom at the end of the post!

Waymon: Tell us a little bit about your background. Were you always the funny guy or did you stumble into that later? Do you think being gay helped shape your comedic point of view?

picture-7.pngBryan Safi: I grew up in El Paso, Texas, and I honestly don't think I knew a single gay person there. I don't think. The only person who might have been gay is someone my parents referred to as, "Mark. He's...you know." That was it. No one would really say it.

So I stayed in the closet for high school and waited until college to come out. But the comedy came really early. I started doing impressions of everyone in my family when I was like 6. Like, I would imitate my Mom getting super impatient in line at Wendy's or getting pissed at someone in line at the bank, and then would perform it for my family when we got home. And I got such a buzz getting from the laughter. So it started there.

Waymon: How did you get involved with Current TV and InfoMania? Do you do any other writing or performing?

Bryan Safi: Picture-2.pngI got involved at infoMania initially as a writer for Conor Knighton, the host. Soon after that, I pitched the idea for "That's Gay" with Natalie Procter (my co-creator and producer), and they really liked it. Our first episode was about one of TV's most popular characters, the Gay Best Friend - how gay men on TV are usually seen as a woman's favorite accessory, how everyone needs a "token gay" to go shopping with and dump on - and it really resonated with people.

Before That's Gay, I was a staff writer at The Ellen DeGeneres Show and before that, I was a staff writer for the comedy website Funny or Die. And, I perform a lot at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles - mostly sketch comedy. So you can catch me there a few times a month!

Waymon: I noticed you are listed as a writer for the show. InfoMania is really, really gay. Do you make an effort to slip in LGBT humor throughout the show or is it just a natural part of the show's personality?

Bryan Safi:I've never noticed how gay it is! I think the show is really smart, so if smart is gay, then yes - super fucking gay.

Waymon:How do you choose topics to write about and spoof in your "That's Gay" segment?

Bryan Safi: 204d81bbf060x195.jpg.jpgUsually, it's just whatever is getting media attention. Sometimes it writes itself. For instance, the Johnny Weir coverage about how he's just too feminine for fucking FIGURE SKATING was so insane that it just takes someone to compile it, point it out, and make a joke.

Other times it's just hearing something I think is hilarious and bizarre - like the phrase "No Homo," which has been in hip-hop for years. It's used as a disclaimer for rap lyrics that may seem slightly gay but - these rappers want to be clear - are NOT gay at all. That was a really fun one to do. People started writing in with new phrases like, "no hetero," "Pro Homo," "No (Tony) Romo," and one asshole wrote "No Eat Balls." Which I don't really know what that meant, but it may be my favorite.

Waymon:Do you think your segments have a broader impact than just making the audience laugh (and they do laugh- a lot!). Many of our readers have commented on how you make even people in our community think and reexamine media's coverage of our issues. I'm sure that feeling is amplified by non-LGBT viewers. Do you think satire is a form of subversive messaging or activism for our community?

Bryan Safi: Safi.jpgAbsolutely. I think it's difficult for people to listen when it's being hammered over your head or deadly serious or antagonistic. The best feedback I get is actually from straight male viewers because their compliments are so hilarious. It's always like, "You're really funny. I'm not gay, but I just wanted to let you know that your stuff is good." Or, "I laugh at your segments. No homo." But it's nice to know that so many different people watch and feel compelled to write, and hopefully they look at an issue in a way they never had before.

Waymon:What's one thing our readers probably don't know about you that might surprise them?

Bryan Safi: I'm not related to Maya Angelou.

Whew! I'm glad that's cleared up!

Thanks so much for sharing with our readers and thanks for all the laughs you've given us!

Pro Homo, Bryan!

And now, as promised, Safi's latest video where he exposes the cruelest commentary about student Constance McMillen and tracks the creation of the most terrifying, life-altering moment in any teenager's life: prom night.

Haven't gotten enough Safi yet? Check him out as he takes on:

Don't forget- Safi is a fun tweeter to follow and InfoMania is also on Twitter!

infoMania is a half-hour satirical news show that airs on Current TV. The show puts a comedic spin on the 24-hour chaos and information overload brought about by the constant bombardment of the media. Hosted by Conor Knighton and co-starring Brett Erlich, Sarah Haskins, Ben Hoffman, Bryan Safi and Sergio Cilli, the show airs on Thursdays at 10 pm Eastern and Pacific Times and can be found online at on Current TV, iTunes, and Hulu. And make sure to check out their Facebook profile for special features.

If you're not watching InfoMania, you're missing out!

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Bryan's a treasure- the more people that know that- the better!

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | April 19, 2010 8:06 PM

I wrote a comment on Kate Clinton's article The Planet of the Apps where I suggest she create an app that loads That's Gay episodes onto any device that has recently viewed Fox News content. Gee, I hope she remembers who gave her the idea.

Anyway, I think my favorite That's Gay episode is still Commercials "That toasters' a power bottom!" Priceless.

Ooo! That's a good suggestion! Let's start pumping episodes of 'That's Gay' directly on to Fox News! LOL

And I need a t-shirt that has that quote from the commercials episode! Love it!

what a good get!

and infomania is indeed one of the best shows on any channel today: in addition to "that's gay", there's also "viral video film school" and the most excellent "target women".

as for pumping "that's gay" into fox news: i get the impression that might be a bit of a redundant effort, based on this evidence.

The entire show is great, DOn. I love Target Women too. :)

It's such a smart show and I look forward to it every week. Part of the huge reason for that is Safi's writing skills for the show. He's great!

writers rarely get the attention they deserve (insert enormous conflict of interest statement here), and it was great to see this story doing exactly that.

Thanks, Don. I agree that writers rarely get the credit they so richly deserve. And I think Safi is at the top of his game!

He's not related to Maya Angelou? Oh God, I don't understand the world anymore.

Bryan Safi's hilarious and adorable. Unfortunately, this interview didn't cover the one thing I really wanted to know about him: is he single? ;-)

I was shocked... SHOCKED, I tell you, to learn Safi wasn't related to Angelou. :)

He is a hilarious and adorable guy. He's been extremely nice and fun to talk with, so any guy would be lucky to have him! Are you applying for the job of Mr. That's Gay, Sam? LOL

If the position hasn't been filled and he's accepting applications... :D

We'll have to let him know that inquiring minds want to know! :)

I had a conversation with an acquaintance of mine recently about Bryan Safi and his show that uses "That's Gay" as it's title. This particular person likes drop the f-bomb to describe himself and other that are gay. I detest it, I think it's ignorant. Anyway, he tried to call me a hypocrite for enjoying this really intelligent use of the words: "That's Gay" in this context. I ended up giving up on the conversation but I'm glad that you took the time to make this interview happen. Your description of the show is exactly how explained it.

Thanks Waymon - good luck in Chicago!

Gainesville, FL

I completely agree- the way the show uses "That's Gay" is to poke fun and show the ridiculousness of the offensive way it's used in general society slang ("That's Gay"= stupid). It's but one part of the brilliance of the satire that Safi does.

It sets the tone for the way he shines a light on the ridiculousness of bigotry (his current Prom video is a prime example of taking offensive language to it's extreme to make a hard-hitting satirical point).

Glad you liked the interview and thanks for the well wishes in Chicago!

Amazingly enough, I am not related to Maya Angelou, either. I'm so happy to share something so personal with Bryan Safi!

He is cute, gorgeous, sly, smart, funny and most engaging, and his segments are the highlight of InfoMania for me and, obviously, Waymon too. It's just snarky enough and silly enough (kinda like the whole show, I suppose) that anyone taking the term "That's Gay" and feeling it's unacceptable has to be walking around with his head in the sand.

I've made it a habit to respond to your regular updates about the segment here, Waymon, and I'm thankful that you were able to snag him for such a delightful interview.

My DVR is set for every Thursday night (busy schedule!) and InfoMania is tops!

You caught me, George! I'm a complete Safi groupie!

And you are spot on about him being cute, gorgeous, sly, smart, funny and most engaging. It was so much fun to interview him- it only made me a bigger fan and appreciate his work even more!

If the interview was even half as delightful as Safi himself was during the process, then I'll mark this as a huge success!

Great work on this one, Waymon...but I have to agree...you have more than just a little bit of a crush on him. Not that its a bad thing...but you do. ;-) SF