Screen-Shot-2015-06-12-at-10.54.24-AMInstead of espresso, how about a shot of comedy? If you have to go to a panel discussion around 10 a.m., let it be one in which Brooklyn’s own Sasheer Zamata, of Saturday Night Live, and Ben Warheit, writer for Late Night with Seth Meyers, play clips from their Above Average shows. That’s what we were treated to yesterday at “Building Comedy and Growing America’s Best Comedy,” one in a series of Northside Festival talks continuing today at Kinfolk 94.
Zamata said her web series, “Pursuit of Sexiness,” arose from this video dramatizing a joke about getting flashed on the street.

The fun, collaborative project received a huge response online, which encouraged Zamata to continue using the format.
In the laugh-inducing clip below, two women at a bar argue about the validity of drinking because “it’s five o’clock somewhere.” At one point, series co-creator Nicole Byer, of MTV’s “Girl Code,” makes the case that vodka is suitable for breakfast because it’s made of potatoes. Who can argue with that?

Meanwhile, Warheit’s series, “Waco Valley,” came about after his doodles of “dinosaurs in various situations” were well received on Tumblr. He started drawing them on Post-It notes, when he was bored at his job in a opiate research center in a psychiatric ward.

After the discussion, Zamata told us that the episodes she writes with Byer “derive from a place of reality – something that happened to us or we thought was going to happen that was really funny. We take a simple idea and try to blow it out as much as we can.” She writes down all of her ideas — what used to be piles of notebooks is now a “laundry list” of joke ideas on her iPhone.
Warheit isn’t as organized. He said, “I wish I had a process that sounds like Sasheer’s – that would be very helpful. It’s very random for me. I try to remember to write stuff down but I don’t have a good habit of doing it.”
Do they have a persona they put on when performing comedy? “I don’t drift too far from things I would actually do,” said Zamata. “So whatever the audience is feeling, it’s hopefully believable because it’s coming from a real place.”
Warheit has a different approach: “My comedy comes from imagined things, things that aren’t real.” (A dinosaur newscaster, for instance.) “It’s alternate versions of things that would happen in reality. When I’m working I try to come at it from an optimistic perspective and see it in a positive way.”
So how can we, as boring civilians, be a bit funnier in everyday situations?
Warheit had one suggestion: “If you’re watching somebody talk or famous people where everybody knows who they are (maybe watching a TV show or a movie), wait until after it’s done. In that moment of silence turn to the person next to you and say, ‘Who are those people?!’”