During the Comedy Central showcase at Good Good this past spring, I watched Shannon use a PowerPoint to bring her character, a Tik-Toking twink, to supersonic heights. Whether she’s simulating the internet in a presentation, using music to usher in costume changes live on stage in her comedic duo Queer Bait, or Photoshopping graphics for use in the sketch group Darlings, her multimedia skills permeate all of her comedic performances. And she’s going to reveal all her secrets in Presentational Comedy, her upcoming class at Good Good. She made time to call me to answer the burning question on everyone’s lips: why are so many comedians using PowerPoint anyway?
I know you’re really busy right now because you have a Fringe Festival show coming up.
I do, yes, I’m so excited! A big, fat Fringe Show! It’s been a lot of non-stop rehearsing in my basement with barely any clothes on because that’s the kind of comedy we do. I’m really excited to be able to put up a show with Rose [Luardo] as Queer Bait at Good Good. It’s gonna be a really good time.
Does your Queer Bait show in the Fringe Festival involve tech in any way?
Yes. We’re using a lot of tech in our show. Both me and Rose are doing solo pieces in the show that use video components. I do one of my favorite character bits [Crispin Piss] that involves a PowerPoint presentation. We’re gonna be doing a really fun ASMR bit, which is very presentational in the way that we’re showing the audience a bunch of different things and trying to elicit that ASMR feeling—but in a really disgusting way.
When I think of PowerPoint I think of either really dry business presentations or computer class in grade school. So I think it’s popular for comedians to use because it’s either ironic or nostalgic.
I definitely think the nostalgia and the irony is part of it but I also think that it’s a way to engage your audience and have them feel like they’re inside of your brain. [PowerPoints can] also punctuate your comedy in a way that’s very to-the-point.
Right, and you can control the timing. You can hit the next slide and then that picture heightens whatever you said.
Exactly. It hits a joke a lot faster. You can hit something that may not have been hit by just talking or just doing a regular sketch. Also, when you’re doing alternative characters in a solo piece, it can be hard because you don’t have another person to bring out certain points of this character. So having a PowerPoint for a solo bit can get your character idea across without needing [a second person].
Would you call Presentational Comedy a computer class for weird adults?
Yeah, totally! That’s exactly what it is. I just wanna help people facilitate these weird comedic ideas they have stuffed inside their brain.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about the class that you feel is important for people to know?
I want people to know that the class is a really safe environment to throw out your craziest ideas. It’s a spot where there’s no shame, no judgment. Whatever you’re thinking and whatever you want to do, we’re helping you make it happen and make it funny as a group, as a team. Collaborative comedy is really important to me and the way that I work, so it’s gonna be a really good, fun time.
You can see Shannon Fahey and Rose Luardo in Queer Bait: Sterile all this week at Good Good Comedy Theatre! See showtimes and get tickets here.
Shannon Fahey’s Presentational Comedy Writing class starts on Sunday, September 29th. You can enroll right here.
You can also check out info about Good Good’s Diversity Scholarship here.