February 26, 2021

Aida Osman On Forging Her Own Path In Comedy And How The Industry Needs To Grow

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I think one of the hardest things is, as a Black individual, you invest all this time going, “Black individuals are not a monolith. You look wacky having Black characters and no Black authors. Ease of access, resources, and promoting that this world even exists, and of course, simply hiring more Black authors and more writers that are marginalized. You look silly having Black characters and no Black authors. Its so crucial that they do the work and discover those individuals, due to the fact that those individuals exist, they have social media, there are newsletters that are all about Black authors that desire to be hired.

Aida Osman is a comic and author based in Los Angeles, California. They spoke to Funny Or Die over Zoom to discuss their career, intersectionality in comedy, how the market has changed in the wake of the Black Lives Matter motion over the summertime of 2020, and what still needs to alter for progress to continue.
This interview has actually been edited and condensed for length and clearness.

Thank you for joining me! Lets enter your origin story. How and when did you start in comedy?
I started doing stand-up when I was 19 in Nebraska. The extremely very first time I did it, I was doing slam poetry comedy. I was attempting to do a mockery of poetry slams. Oh my god, friend, it was so bad. It was so fucking bad. Im having flashbacks simply thinking of it.
I was like, fuck it, let me simply try this, and I really just read my tweets, which was such a foolish idea and not a good formula for anybody beginning stand-up. I got really, actually into funny and was doing dive bar reveals in Nebraska with six other local white comics.
Courtesy of Aida Osman
And then you remained in New York for a bit?
Yeah, I went to do Wild n Out in May of 2019. After Wild n Out was done, I moved there for the summer season of 2019 and was doing stand-up, satisfying a lot of New York stand-ups, and simply having a blast.
What was your start here in LA like? At what point did you get included in writers rooms?
, this podcast at Crooked Media, which was excellent, but I still actually desired to break into funny writing. Ive given that soothed down, however thats because Im in authors rooms now. Ive been saturated with all the ways people can be funny on Twitter.
That was the very best period of Aida Twitter!
And I must return! But after a certain point, you go into a Netflix meeting and theyre like, “Youre the pegging lady! Youre the woman who pegged kids in their booty hole!” Its great, it gets you a job and Big Mouth executives love it, and you find your individuals because method, I guess. Its not awkward, but you dont wish to let it define you. I desire substantial projects. I wish to write for all these different shows. I didnt desire to just be pegged as the pegging girl.
I didnt comprehend the world of comedy writing until I realized there was an absence of Black women and nonbinary people in it at all.
I believe I may bring that back, because I do want to discover that world where rap and music and funny can intersect. If its in a non-corny way, it can be some of the best funny. The presidents getting impeached or Black Lives Matter is happening, and its like, well, heres Aida with her squirting song …?
Whats it been like not just breaking into, but discovering such success in various areas like stand-up and as an author and podcast host, in such a heteronormative, cis, white market, and ending up being a pioneer for other young, queer, Black creatives?
Whoa!
Its a big concern! We can take it down in pieces.
I didnt comprehend the world of comedy composing up until I realized there was an absence of Black women and nonbinary people in it at all. I looked around and there are not a lot of nonbinary comics or people who are ready to make jokes about their pronouns, and even simply have the kinds of discussions about gender that Im really excited to lastly be having.
Nobody asks you to do it, but you feel like you require to be the representative for Black culture and you seem like you require to nail it.
The success has been truly strange. I dont understand how to specify it. I feel like Im always going to be dealing with imposter syndrome, but I also think that every excellent creator should. If Im not in a space where Im like, am I expected to be here? Im not striving enough, I believe. I feel most comfortable when Im uncomfortable. So I feel good right now, however it is scary.
I think one of the hardest things is, as a Black person, you spend all this time going, “Black individuals are not a monolith. We have so numerous various aspects to our being, stop attempting to pigeonhole us,” however then you get to the authors space and nobody asks you to do it, but you feel like you require to be the representative for Black culture and you feel like you need to nail it. You need to make sure you represent everyone.
Thanks To Aida Osman|Photograph by Elijah Craig.
Does that ever substance with likewise being nonbinary and queer and Muslim? Do those different aspects converge at all, or included that same kind of pressure?
I still have yet to discover an authors room where me being Muslim is even welcomed into the discussion. Fox isnt going to release a primetime show that is Muslim, nonbinary, and Black.
Ive yet to find out where all my intersecting identities can come together and speak as one voice, however thats uniquely my difficulty, and thats exciting. No one else can ever take my career or my story away from me.
Theres no factor that my confusion or my experience with gender ought to be a gadget.
I still discover that were not having gender discussions in authors rooms. I composed on one show where we d have open discussions about gender with the girls, however still no freely nonbinary characters. That program is innovative in numerous methods, but we still do not have any primary characters who are nonbinary or openly trans. Im excited to have shows where cisgender individuals arent always the main stars, however I havent even remained in the space where thats a truth yet. Weve had a trans coming of age storyline on Big Mouth season 4, so were arriving. We actually are arriving.
I seem like a lot of cisgender authors do not write nonbinary and trans characters if they or the audience cant immediately determine that they are trans and nonbinary by taking a look at them, or if thats not the focus of their narrative.
We need more trans characters and trans stars that play roles where possibly its after the season is over when youre like, “Oh, that person or that character is trans?” I likewise believe its amazing to compose characters that are nonbinary or trans and figuring that out, and their story is not connected to that figuring out. Theres no reason that my confusion or my experience with gender must be a gadget.
Yes, the function of trans and nonbinary characters does not and shouldnt need to always be injury or battle.
Yeah. I know that I have specific privileges being femme presenting, however its a special thing to attempt to describe still feeling strained, because it seems like bullshit grumbling, but it still harms to have an identity that isnt clear and identifiable to other individuals.
I tweeted just recently, “Someone simply called me sir in the airport and now my pussy is damp.” It was among the finest experiences Ive ever had. I wasnt attempting to even be masculine. It simply took place. Someone called me sir and I resembled, whoa! I got really thrilled and I tweeted that, and somebody was like, “This tweet makes no fucking sense. Whats incorrect with you? What do you desire? You dont even understand what you desire.” It was difficult for me, I was like, oh my God, that person is. Possibly I dont know what I desire.
I had to inform myself that is part of the wonder of my day to day. I dont understand whichs all right, and accepting that absence of knowing so I can go be fucking great. More individuals call me sir. Call me sir if you see me in the airport.
Because youve been in LA, how have you seen comedy, or more particular areas like writers rooms for instance, modification in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement over the summer?
The next year to 2 are going to be truly critical in proving that they still give a fuck about what were attempting to say. Im still so brand-new to this industry and I feel so fortunate that Im walking into a very safe environment, however a lot of development still needs to be done.
Thanks To Aida Osman.
I believe 10 years from now in an ideal world, if Im a showrunner and I have the ability to staff an authors space that is all Black genderqueer people, and not simply a small program however a show on Fox or ABC, that is going to be when things have really changed. Right now it does not feel incredibly palpable.
It feels like were in this transitional phase, where someone like me is still solutioning to all white executives. And sure, Ill take white money all the time, but I cant wait til Im the one signing the checks to another Black creator. And hopefully they dont have to go through what Ive gone through, which is uneasy conversations with executives about how I deliver jokes or how I speak and a great deal of microaggression in authors spaces, however thats so much better than, state, five or 10 years back. I cant even picture what somebody like Issa Rae or Kenya Barris had to go through. I feel like were in-betweeners, but every generation probably feels like that. Perhaps in 10 years individuals will resemble, “Were in-betweeners,” and robots run all the authors spaces.
While were in this transitional phase, what are changes you believe require to be executed by executives, and individuals running authors spaces, and showrunners, that could and need to take place instantly?
Large corporations need to be supplying resources to marginalized authors, offering them script composing software, or access to a masterclass or someplace they can get info. Transitioning from the stand up world, I didnt know screenwriting existed until I will be employed as a film writer, whichs such a lucky experience, however I didnt have the tools I required to be the very best that I could be in an authors room. And no ones telling little Black girls in Nebraska that they should go to school for screenwriting or playwriting, nobody gave me script writing software application, or a laptop, or even the motivation to do all of this.
You look silly having Black characters and no Black writers. You look goofy having trans characters without trans writers. In reality, you can not inform those stories without having those faces in the room.
Im a strong supporter that all enthusiasms and careers are just seeds dropped into peoples pots. If theres no seed being dropped into that pot, theres no flower, no plant that can grow.
Availability, resources, and promoting that this world even exists, and obviously, simply employing more Black authors and more authors that are marginalized. I typically see individuals and executives who have seats at the table simply sitting there like, “Where do we discover them? What are we to do?” The concern is on you to be in active pursuit of these individuals. You look goofy having Black characters and no Black writers. That need to never ever be something that exists. You look silly having trans characters without trans authors. In reality, you can not inform those stories without having those faces in the space. Its so essential that they do the work and find those individuals, due to the fact that those people exist, they have social media, there are newsletters that are everything about Black authors that desire to be hired. Go find them. Dont concern me. Do not ask me, “Do you have any little friends that I could work with?” No. Go discover them.
I have spoken with so lots of white executives in general meetings and theyre like, “This is such a distinct, fresh voice. We never ever fulfilled anybody like you.” And Im like, what? You should be taking more meetings with Black developers. I ought to not be one of the very first Black, Muslim, nonbinary individuals youve had on your sofa.
Did you have anything that you wished to plug?
View season 4 of Big Mouth on Netflix, be on the lookout for season 2 of Betty on HBO, and listen to Keep it! We talk about the crossways of pop culture and politics, we get actually untidy, and its the reason why Im blocked by a lot of your favorite rappers.