Inside With: Halle Kiefer
Whether breaking down the obsession with Elena Kagan’s sexuality on her blog Mustang Halle, dissecting Glee for The Awl (I’m really into Glee recaps, okay??), or expressing serious concern about the BP oil spill in her web series Halle and Jess, Halle Kiefer is all over the internet making you laugh. In real life, she is an improv and sketch comedian, with the group Blood Money, and does stand up, including having her own awesome new variety show, Nice!, at Legion in Williamsburg. I asked Halle to give us a little insight into the life of a very funny, very busy up-and-comer.
Mustang Halle, your Tumblr, is extremely popular. So much so, that you were featured in Housing Works’ Tumblr reading series, and subsequently The New Yorker. How has Tumblr, and the responses you’ve received, affected what you do?
“Extremely” is certainly a super nice and subjective term for it; thank you! Tumblr and the reading got me in touch with a lot more people who laugh at the same things I do. I feel like it’s been helpful for me personally because it reminds me to write and write and write, since I am lucky enough to have a captive audience of people who are interested in reading my material. I like having the obligation to them, and in turn, people can tell me if they actually like my material pretty much as soon as I post it.
Your web series with comedian Jess Burkle, Halle and Jess, is now in its second season. Where did Halle and Jess come from?
Jess and I have been friends since the third grade, so I feel like it’s been a long time coming. I remember in middle school I worked with Jess to choreograph an elaborate dance sequence to the song “Sing Sing Sing” that we wanted to add to our production of Peter Pan. The director said no, which at the time seemed totally unfair, but in retrospect was probably her way of preventing us from being pelted with batteries while we were on stage. The videos are born out of that same chemistry and sense of humor we’ve shared since we were 8. After both moving to New York and entering the comedy world, we wanted to create something that would make us work together on a consistent basis. For the most part, we just riff on current events and the Marmaduke movie.
You are The Awl’s awesomely intense Glee recapper. Is it hate-watching or love-watching for you?
It’s such a fine, fine line. I feel like at this point it is love-watching. I think? Yeah, I think so. There are just too many great elements (Jane Lynch, the singing, Jane Lynch) for me to look away. I also generally love TV and writing show reviews, so it’s easy for me to get so worked up that the difference between affection and hatred becomes irrelevant to me.
How did your improv group, Blood Money, come together?
My teammate Jim subbed into my Improv 101 class at UCB and we immediately started improv-crushing on each other. When he started a team with some classmates last fall, he asked me to join. They are all such talented comedians; I consider myself preternaturally lucky that we all support and “get” each other to the degree that we do. I feel like I am in a remarkably functional relationship with 6 people who I just want to kiss and bear-hug all the time.
Your new show with Dan Chamberlain, Nice!, just had its debut at Legion in Williamsburg. Can you tell us more about the show?
Dan and I were really jazzed to start a show with a little bit of everything: stand-up, improv, sketch, general weirdness. It’s a great space and we also both live nearby and wanted to do it in Brooklyn, something convenient for people living in the neighborhood. The first show went so well I’m already having heart palpitations thinking about keeping it consistently good. On a more selfish level, I think we were both interested in forcing people to watch us host as vampires and middle-school students and basically act like cretins. We’re really happy with that.
A lot of comedians today, including yourself, use a variety of mediums (sketch comedy, standup, blogging and the vlogging). How do you think experimenting with so many different outlets has shaped your approach to comedy?
In my mind once you realize that there are all these options available to you, it really motivates you to figure out what medium will work best for whatever bit you are trying to do. Working on a bunch of different kinds of projects had forced me figure out how to use my time wisely, why a joke that works in stand-up might not in a video, etc. Sort of a “if you want something to get done, give it to a busy person” type of thing. I also have a miniscule attention span (like we all do, right?) so having different projects helps fulfill that need for variety.
What other upcoming projects are you working on?
Oh well, let’s see… I’m being published in a sex writing book this summer edited by writer/Tumblrer Meaghan O’Connell (don’t worry; my story is mainly embarrassing, not sexy), Blood Money Sketch is writing a new show, I’m working on writing more reviews, and am in the zygote-y stages of a book. Other than that, just a lot of stand-up and sweet, sweet summer loving.