Comedy with Charlotte Kennett from The Fung Bros
She is not only an indie filmmaker, but she is also a writer, director, producer, and actress. She is Charlotte Kennett and she is breaking boundaries with her take on dark comedy. In this blog, I wanted to talk to Charlotte about what comedy is all about and what it was like working with The Fung Bros. Even though Charlotte is a multi-talented young woman, she remains humble and down to earth.
What goes on in your mind when writing comedy?
I want to know what’s going on in my head too! (Charlotte says and both Angela and Charlotte laugh).
I think we’ll need my therapist present so I better go call her. (Angela laughs) Just kidding.
(Charlotte making fun of herself) “Oh my god, can she turn it off,” you know? (Angela laughs)
The big thing about comedy that people miss the mark on is truth
In comedy, there are so many niches and everyone has their own subjective voice. There is no objective comedy voice. So that’s always an interesting thing to think about when thinking about comedy as an art form and as a visual medium. It’s important to remember that it’s so subjective and it’s based on so many different things like who you are, where you are, your perspective, your point of view, and what you’re trying to get across to people. There are so many different kinds of humor and comedy like slapstick or absurdist humor. There are just so many different types and it’s important to think about, “what’s your type?”
For me, I’m still finding my voice and I think I’ll continue to find my comedic voice because I think your whole life, you’re always developing your sense and taste in comedy. I think as you experience life, you think different things are funny, as you hit certain ages, or you go through specific life-altering events, you have a perspective that you didn’t have before that allows you to write those situations and then bring them to life in a way that is realistic and vulnerable. Because I believe the big thing about comedy, that people often miss the mark on, but more importantly people value so much, is truth. Just generally speaking being vulnerable and being willing to go there and come to that line and say,
“I’m pregnant on accident and this sucks and it’s with some guy that doesn’t even love me.”
And people think that’s funny and it’s awful, right?
It’s like terrible, but they think it’s funny because maybe they know a friend who went through this, maybe they’ve gone through it, or they just imagine how horrific it would be to go through something like that on your own. And then people who have gone through it are like, “it is actually horrific, but you look back on it and laugh, you know?”
Comedy is my way of feeling okay about some of the things I’ve gone through
My mom was a single mother and I think a lot of times she didn’t think it was funny. It’s horrible. There are a lot of uphill battles against me, the world, and everything. But then you look back and it’s hilarious. We were like a tag team duo and there were so many moments that are so funny, but at the moment when you are going through something painful, it’s easy to think that it’s just not funny and there’s no humor in it. But then when you look back on it, you’re like “no, there’s so much humor in it,” and [it’s] kind of that rule of comedy that you learn
Tragedy + Time = Comedy
I think that is so true, but of course, that’s not the only way for something to be funny.
My whole voice has become a dark comedy because I’ve lived through a lot of hard things and comedy is my way of feeling okay about some of the things I’ve gone through. It helps me channel difficult traumatic things that I’ve experienced first hand or that I want people to know more about, but also be able to laugh about.
When I write drama I feel like I’m being so on the nose (Charlotte touches the tip of her nose) and it’s difficult for me. When I’m using the vessel of comedy, I’m able to really think about how I can really get this across to someone and get them to understand while they’re laughing about it. And feel my pain, but like, “this is still hilarious.”
What made you like writing comedy?
I think it was the challenge of it. I think I thought it looked super easy. Growing up, you watch comedy and if feels very effortless. And then I realized it’s not easy to write comedy. It’s really hard actually. Then I was like, “this is a skill set I want to be good at,” because I feel like comedy writers are so well-spoken and charming. I just think they’re so smart. Like now, we turn to them before we turn to politicians. It’s so crazy that they are some of the smartest people and I’m like, “I want to be that.” I want to be in the know. I want to understand politics to the furthest extent and pop culture and be able to have opinions that shake the ground. It’s interesting. I think getting into comedy is something that you really have to want, but also it has to be natural to you. It’s kind of one of those things that it has to be a combination of both. And it’s probably something that I’ve struggled with. At times, I’m like, “I am not the funniest person,” or you think that at least. You always feel like an imposter, but when you’re an artist or a comedian, you’re like “I’m not great.” You can’t be a comedian if you don’t have some issues with self-worth (Charlotte laughs).
People who are in comedy just have a darker layer behind their eyes
I think it’s important to do it for the right reasons. Do it because for some reason it releases something inside of you, and for me, it feels really good when I write something that I know other people are going to laugh at or feel like they understand it on a deeper level. It’s my way of communicating. Even in the day-to-day when I’m not writing comedy, I’m very fun and flowy with my friends when I think that’s my way of going about life and I think that people who are also in comedy just have a darker layer behind their eyes. We all for some reason have so many weird mental issues. We have a lot going on upstairs. We suffer from depression, ADHD, anxiety, etc. Comedy is a remedy, and it’s almost like medicine in a way. It really helps heal your soul and yourself. When you get to do it, you finally feel like you’re in a sense of homeostasis. You’re at home. That’s why I do it and I think that’s why a lot of people are drawn to the light of comedy. Wanting to just explode with everything that they feel.
During the pandemic, what motivates you to write comedy?
I’ve been going in and out of being able to write and being like,
“It’s so stupid to be an artist right now. There’s so much going on and so many people are suffering. Who am I to make art and I’m selfish.”
And then you come into a moment when you’re like,
“No, people NEED this. They need to laugh because it’s terrible.”
But you always have those two battling thoughts,
“What am I doing? I should go do something important.”
Comedy is important. It’s just relative. What allows me to stay motivated is that I’m just trying to preserve my own sanity right now. Usually, when I’m writing, it’s not so much to preserve my sanity, I mean it is in a way, but it’s also because I love it and I make time for it in the way that I should. But now, it’s kind of becoming like a staple of my life and a way to keep moving on and have a sense of normalcy during this really crazy time. I’m trying not to write stuff that is super pandemic related, but I actually did get a project that forced me to write in a pandemic world and I was like,
“Oh my god. It’s just too soon”
It was kind of weird since we’re not even out of it, but I’m writing something that’s in it.
[Writing comedy] saves my life.
That sounds really dramatic. Hm, maybe I’m a drama writer after all (Charlotte flips her hair back).
It’s really important for me to write and I think in a pandemic like this, comedic voices are so needed and continuing to create content during this time is essential, not only for your own self [as a comedian filmmaker, director, or writer] but also for other people that might love your content or love people that you help create content for. In that sense, I try to just keep on the path and doing the work that I always intended, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with a little bit of like,
“Wait, should I just go work on a farm or…”
I’m doing a lot of that and look at me in Montana now. I’m dressed as some kind of camp counselor or something. I’m always somebody new in this pandemic. I’m sure you’re feeling it too, but I’m just like,
“What are we doing?”
We’re always having those crisis, pandemic crisis. It’s a lot.
When working on the development of “The Fung Bros,” what were some of the roadblocks?
It’s so weird. I wrote a web series a while ago, directed it, and I was in it. [It’s] called Chapstick and it ended up doing decently well. It was more of a success than I ever suspected. It got me into the YouTube realm of writing for other YouTubers, producing for them, and helping them create concepts. So eventually, in my process of getting into the YouTube world, which is absolutely psychotic, I made my way to The Fung Bros.
I don’t even know how that happened. They hired me to help them at first develop a comedy talk show and then I helped them develop a radio show for iHeartRadio that is not out yet, but they are currently pitching. A lot of the roadblocks I don’t see so much as roadblocks, but of course, there are challenges with every project, I think with them it's just making sure that knowing who I am and where I sit in the world, knowing that I’m not Asian, I don’t have that background and just keeping that perspective in mind as I work with them and making sure that their content still stays Asian-centric to the things they really want to talk about. They really care about Asian culture and bring it all together on a platform where they talk about K-Pop, China, [and more].
For me, it was making sure I know what I was bringing to it also making sure I was educating myself enough on things that would be important for them. I guess the things that were the most challenging for me just came down to really thinking about from their perspective, what would work the best, and learning about them individually. Andrew and David are very different and you have to make sure your writing and creating ideas that are going to work for both of them. If they have a co-host, make sure it will work for that person and whomever their guests are. It’s just a lot of thinking about multiple people, what they’re all bringing to the table, and making sure it’s in the voice of those people and incorporating those things that are maybe beyond what I can see or haven’t experienced myself.
I really like working with them because they’re super fun and they’re very flexible about using different ideas and they’re very funny of course. They’re very funny [and] very smart. It’s really a pleasure to work with them anytime we work together because they’re just so receptive to different ideas, trying to new things, but also always know at the end of the day what they like and what they don’t like. So it makes it very easy for me. They really know what they want. They have a very good lens on the type of content they want to create and their vision for what they want it to become, I mean, everyone should just watch The Fung Bros because they’re going to blow [up]. They know exactly who they want to become.