Between vapid vampires and backhanding Brandy Melville, somehow Lauren Servideo wound up the voice of our generation. It makes sense that a once-aspiring journalist might be able to so effectively articulate our daily trials or trauma, but only the NYC-based comedian can make it so funny. However, she makes it known that we shouldn’t label her as such. Despite the fact her destiny is pronounced with the last three syllables of her name, Servideo claims she doesn’t deserve titles designed to describe creative talent—you know, artist, actor, writer, or comedian. But in reality, she’s all of these things—we’re just lucky to catch her before she believes it.
Written by: Beatrice Hazlehurst
What is the formulation process behind your characters?
“They’re all kind of amalgams of people I’ve known or haven’t known. They’re never just one person, always an aggregate. Which is why I love New York—it’s a melting pot, and if you’re paying attention, you can pick up on certain things. I’ll write down what I hear people say to other people. Like I was walking home with my boyfriend on Saturday, and there was this yuppie couple, and I hear the girl say, ‘Oh my god, David, we just walked past the shirt I wanted you to get me!’ Things like that I’ll write down and then just break down each syllable, and characters will come from there. I have friends like Chloe Fineman from SNL who are just so good at celebrity impressions, but for me, that’s really hard to do. I kind of have to solely invent people.”
Have you ever wanted to go the more traditional path of a sketch comedy show?
“I think because SNL is such an institution, [it would] be hard to find a comedian that wouldn’t jump at the chance. But it’s the Olympics, it’s every Saturday, live. Everyone there has just been doing it for so long. But everyone who is in charge over there knows star quality when they see it. It’s pretty amazing.”
I know you originally dreamed of becoming a magazine journalist, but was there that unacknowledged hope that you might have what it takes to be a performer?
“I would love to do a sketch of me trying to be a magazine editor in 2020! No, I was always performing for family and friends, but I just don’t come from a group of people that could nurture it in a practical way. Even what it costs to pursue comedy for real. Some of the biggest comedians, despite their talent, just had better financial opportunities. So a lot of people you see on TV were financially privileged. But my family were always so supportive and always thought I had ‘it,’ but didn’t know how to make it work. But [discussions of privilege] are so complicated right now. I wish that, even if these systems might not be dismantled, they could take a turn in some way.”
Where do you think you need to be to make that happen?
“I would love to do the TV and movie thing because they’re iconoclast. It would be amazing to see my characters on a bigger screen, but at the same time, YouTube and Instagram are free and in everyone’s pockets. The one downside of Instagram or Twitter is that you’re offered opportunities through them, but not directly—there’s no ads before posts. So for me, it’s been like I’ve always had to have a job. Hopefully we get to the place where I can make a full-time living of this, but I’m not there yet. It’s a process.”
Do you see apps like TikTok having a lasting impact on the industry?
“I think it’s amazing that these kids have a grasp on editing and can blast that into the universe. Of course there are teens who are just famous for being aspirational, but there are so many who are learning to make really detailed tutorials with voice-over. I’m a real voyeur on it, I just watch. I feel like I wouldn’t be good at it, like my skills wouldn’t translate.”
I feel like you’re selling yourself short! How often do you find yourself suffering from imposter syndrome?
“Every day. When I put pen to paper for some of these bigger projects, I realize I come from a journalism background and have had no formal comedy training. Like learning how to make a story arc, just because I haven’t paid for that education. I was always afraid to say ‘I’m an artist.’ Like I’m currently working on a TV show, and my mom said to me, ‘How’s the job search going?’ And I’m like, ‘Mom, did I not tell you I’m doing this thing?’
“You’re also just constantly pushing yourself to find inspiration, it’s a muscle you learn to strengthen all the time. Every day I’m pushing myself to make another video, and it’s hard—my process is a lot slower than a lot of people, and I’m working to be faster. But generally, I have so much fun doing this. I just want it to be this fun, educational place.”