Eva Victor is just as horrified by that Entertainment Weekly Pride cover as the rest of us, but she still photoshopped herself into it. Specifically, over the face of legendary lesbian Lily Tomlin, mostly so she could be close to the illustrated Kristen Stewart . "I really want to put my mouth on Kristen Stewart's mouth," she laughs. Love wins, even in the uncanny valley.
Victor is someone you've probably seen on Twitter, where she's racked up over 300,000 followers thanks to her hilarious front-facing camera videos. These range from satirical bits about the straight pride parade , impressions of Phoebe Waller-Bridge , and most recently a reimagining of Portrait of a Lady on Fire set in quarantine. Victor's comedic timing, impeccable French, and quickfire editing make each clip endlessly watchable.
Under lockdown with only our phones for company, many of us are turning to Victor's chosen comedic form. But she remains the master. Over Zoom, PAPER spoke with Victor about her first screenplay, flattening the curve, which Sex and the City character she identifies with and when she first realized she was funny.
So what's it like being queer in quar?
Oh, did you make that up?
No, absolutely not.
You should have.
Okay. I'll copyright it.
Oh, it's awesome. No, I think it is the same as it was before, and it's completely related to my queerness and then also completely detached from it. But my anxiety is really intense and my depression is generally, without this, quite intense. So in a lot of ways I am the same, but I don't like knowing that everyone else is feeling sadder too. I think I liked the thing of like, okay, well at least people are out there functioning and having a nice time. But now it's like, okay, I'm sorry. I know, it sucks over here. I'm really sorry.
See for me, it's more like, "Hey, that's my thing!"
How dare you?
My job was sitting at home and writing before this all happened. Now that my job remains sitting at home and writing, I'm like, why is this hard even though it's always been this way? But I think it's knowing that everyone else isn't going to their jobs [that] is upsetting, but I don't know.
What are you writing?
Well, I'm working on a script. I don't think I'm allowed to talk about it, but it's a very long script, and I'm excited, it's kind of a personal story. So, that's cool and definitely been very different from anything I've written before. I wrote a pilot at one point, but then I also have mostly been writing sketches for the last year or short articles for the last two. So, it's definitely a different scope of a project and it's definitely the most personal story I have tried to write. It's such an incredible thing to be trying to write something that's about you, even though it's also intensely devastating.
What do you think of yourself as first — a writer, a comedian, an actress? What is the soundbite that you would give someone?
Right. Well, first it would probably be "worried," then after that, I think I like writer because it feels private and I get to decide when I do it. I have never been able to say I'm a comedian. That's never been something I've been able to own, which is probably internalized sexism. [Victor dabs] Just to dab that one out. And actress is like... It all has so much baggage that I'm not willing to take on for myself. I'm like, well, the minute I call myself an actress, I'm like, "Well, who told you you could say that, idiot?" Or [with] writer I'm like, "Who do you think you are? Okay, you have a computer, you're a writer, idiot?"
So, the brain does a whole spin but, I like writer first because it does feel like what I'm spending most of my time doing. I was an actor on a few episodes of Billions and it was so amazing. The amount I sweat worrying about how to be an actor was so intense, but I am trying to not be so mean to myself. It's not working, but yeah. They're all insane and it's cool to try any of them. I want to die right now. I'm sorry.
So, I discovered you, I'm not saying I discovered you, I'm saying I first became aware of you.
You did, you did.
I did discover you. I first became aware of you from your very viral Twitter videos. That have now become everyone's outlet on the internet in quarantine. So do you feel like people are coming for your shtick or do you feel like you were ahead of the curve?
Well, flatten the curve, first off. But no, I think the front facing video medium has... A lot of people have been doing it for a long time. I think it's a free sketch you can make on your own without anyone else. A lot of people turn to it because we are lonely and also it's free and it's on your phone and it's more accessible than a lot of the way that sketch is made. But now, Alyssa Limperis and Rachel Wenitsky and Natalie Walker are all people who've been doing it for so long. And if anything I took on their medium, but no, I think it's amazing. I think everyone should be making free sketch if... No, I don't think everyone should be making free sketch.
I think we should all be paid to do anything. But if you're going to make sketch for free, front-facing view is an easy way to do it. Everyone should get paid to do everything and it's so insane to me, that platforms make so much money off of free shit that people put up.
Have you been feeling pressured to be productive outside of the writing that you're working on? Has your social output slowed down during quarantine?
Yeah, it's definitely slowed down. I'm trying to, and this has been true for a few months now before quarantine started, but I'm trying to only make a video if it kind of comes to me organically. And if I have an idea and I'm like, that fits really well into this space and would be really fun to make. I love making the videos. I think it's so fun to try to come up with the ideas on the spot and say the lines as many times as I want and then edit them. I love to edit them. So the whole thing is often therapeutic in itself because I get to be in complete control of it all and I get to make something fun that I can put up, like the same day I make it, which is a nice change from a lot of the things everyone's always working on, which take years to develop.
But I definitely have slowed down on the internet just because I need to breathe and sleep and cry a lot, and I've been watching everyone else's stuff and I'm like, this is amazing. I'm so glad people are finding productivity right now. And I'm trying to not feel like I have to be in a hundred spaces at once and, if I have artistic energy to spend, to expend it in a space that it feels appropriate for that day. So if I have this writing project, I'm like, "Okay, well then that feels like what I should give myself to today." But if the videos come, oh baby, I'll make them. What? Ugh, okay.
When did you first realize you were funny?
Well, I think I stole a lot of this girl's personality that I was friends with in seventh grade and I found that people loved her personality when I was using it. So, that was fun to take on her complete personhood. And, I don't know, I tried to be really serious in college for a year and then I auditioned for the improv team and I [realized] this is really fun, and then kept doing that. And then when I graduated college, I was like, "You're not going to do comedy anymore, you're going to be a serious actor." And then I was like, "Okay, that's impossible." So I kept circling back to it, and most of the friends I had in college were people in the comedy space where I went to school and it was very fun to exist in that space and make sketches with them.
Are there other aspects of comedy that you've played with? Have you done stand up? When did you decide that sketch and improv were it for you?
I really did things because people let me do them. I auditioned for a lot of really serious plays in college and a lot of people didn't cast me. So I was like, "Okay, I guess I won't be doing those plays." And I auditioned for the improv team and they took me, so I was like, "Okay, I guess I'll be doing improv and I chose this." But since being in New York, I've done stand up, which is sort of a combination of standup and characters, is what my set ends up being.
And then when I got to New York, I also started writing for Reductress and working there. I think so much of what I've ended up doing has been because I've truly tried a thousand things at one time and two people were like, "Yeah, you can do this here," but everyone else was like, "This is not going to work out for you here." So I [followed] the things that were taking me and good things happened, the right things happened, so I feel grateful for that, but so much rejection in different spaces and now I have no choice but to be here, but I also love it here.
As someone who primarily performs as characters, what is it like to now be writing something that's about you and that's deeply personal?
It's definitely weird. It's very scary to be writing something that involves a darker part of me and also believing that it's worth telling a story that is my own. That's been the whole hurdle of like, wait, does anyone even fucking care about what this part of my life is like, but then, you know, when someone's paying you to write it, it's sort of like, well, let's just get over that so we can get this done. I like the idea of taking myself seriously, even though I don't know how. But I like the idea of being like, "Well, yeah, I'm dark and funny and then also sad a lot and that doesn't have to go through a funnel that isn't me. It can be a version of me that's complicated." But it's definitely a challenge to write myself because I don't even have a sense of who I am at all because I'm inside the shell of it all.
If we weren't stuck inside right now, would you be doing the same thing?
Oh, 100%. Oh my God. If we weren't stuck inside, I'd probably just be over on that side of the apartment instead of this side. But I'd be really happy knowing that people were happy out there and that what was happening out there wasn't people dying.
A lot of people are dying and a lot of people don't have jobs. So that's a weight that already existed, but is heavier now obviously, and I liked knowing that my depression was solo depression and knowing that it's happening to a lot of people I love and being worried about them is something I'm not incredibly prepared for. But yeah, I definitely would not be outside. It's fucking hot outside today, are you kidding? I would not be outside. I went outside for 20 minutes and came back and my shirt was stuck to my body. I'm not really interested in that right now.
What is the thing that you miss most about normal life, besides getting to choose to isolate yourself?
I miss going to eat at a restaurant and being like, "Do you want to go eat at a restaurant?" and my friend being like, "Oh, now?" And I'm like, "Yeah, let's just do it." And then we'd go and sit at the restaurant and then we have a menu of options that I would not be cooking. And then I would talk to someone who was probably nice and say, "This is what I want, thank you so much."
And also probably, I would get a Diet Coke, my friend wouldn't, but she would understand that I love Diet Coke and then spaghetti would come out and then there would be cheese and stuff and we'd be like, "This is so good." And then we'd talk over the spaghetti and then the waitress or waiter would be there. And it would be really sort of like fluid and fun to chat, but also maybe not, depending on their energy. And then we would sort of wrap it up and maybe get dessert to share, then pay the bill and tip. Don't forget the tip part, we always tip a LOT of money. That's the only thing you should include. And then I would go home and I would think, let's do that again sometime.
What's the first meal you're going to eat in a restaurant a year from now when restaurants reopen?
Oh my God, oh my God. I don't know, how about you?
I think Italian. I want to go out and get a really good pasta that I didn't have to cook.
I know, because they know how to cook it better. I want to go to a place where they bring bread out first, which is an Italian thing to do. And if there was butter on the side, you know how sometimes there's olive oil with little bits of olive in it. You know there's sometimes a little thing and then there's a wine menu and you don't know the difference between the wines, but you pretend. You know at those fancy restaurants, which I don't really want to go to a fancy one, but when they come out and they grind the pepper for you? I would like... I would die to see someone grind the pepper for me.
I don't know if you remember that
Sex and the City
episode with the fresh pepper and Samantha makes a very obvious joke about it.
Like, [Kim Cattrall voice] "Why don't you grab my pepper?"
That might be exactly what she says.
And she's like, [Kim Cattrall voice] "Mmm, more." Ugh, she's so hot.
Which of the Sex and the City women are you?
I'm... I just almost said something embarrassing because it was a compliment to myself, which is that I'm Steve, but I'm not Steve because he's nice. And I think I'm like Trey in that, I can't accept people for who they really are sometimes. And, I blame other people for my problems. This was not your question.
And you have erectile dysfunction?
And my mom's always there with a mallard. Wait, is that right?
Yeah. I don't know if there's a sadder sound than the Sex and the City theme song coming from someone else's apartment in the middle of the day.
When I was like 11 or something, we were at someone else's house and they had the Sex and the City box set because box sets used to be a thing. And I remember playing an episode and it was the episode about the guy with the small dick that Samantha tries to fuck a lot. It's really not that cool of an episode, as many of them aren't. But my mom saw us watching and I had so much shame surrounding her having caught me watching this episode that I don't even know what it was. For a really long time, I thought the Sex and the City theme song included the HBO logo. So the next time I saw a HBO show I was like, "Oh my God, wait, I always expected it to be like DUH DUH DUH DA-DUH DUH DUH. And now it's just all fucked up and anyway, which Sex and the City character are you?"
As shameful as it is to admit, several quizzes have told me I'm a Carrie and I really hate that.
You know what though? Carrie thinking that Carrie is the lead of the show, I relate to sometimes. You should not be a lead and yet you are. Yeah, Carrie is complicated. Let me say one other thing, which is that in this conversation, I think I did realize I might be Charlotte, because I have prudish tendencies and I have these fantasies about being pregnant and I'm not interested in being pregnant.
What's the last thing that made you laugh?
Well, the last thing that made me laugh was... So I've been playing a lot of Sims and I'm sorry to say that, but that's true. And I started creating many Sims of myself and creating hot people I know, and don't know, that I would like to sleep with. And I've created all these different alternate realities where I have seven lovers and they all find out about each other and then one dies out of heartbreak, whatever, whatever. And I told my friend, who has a crush, right? And I was like, make your celebrity crush into a SIM. And then you can just watch yourself fuck the celebrity. And she sent me a lot of photos of her fucking a celebrity and that really got me going. I was LOL-ing at that.
Who was the celebrity?
I cannot reveal. It's just unfair.
If you could have sex with anyone's Sim, not the real them, but their Sim, who would it be? And I don't think you're a Sim in this scenario. I think you are a real person.
That is really not the answer I was expecting. Are we talking True Blood Anna Paquin or Almost Famous Anna Paquin?
No, we're talking about The Irishman Anna Paquin. I just saw her in a movie so that's why I'm thinking of it. So you mean I'm a human and I fuck a Sim version of themselves.
That's completely inappropriate. But, God you know what I'm realizing in this conversation is I don't think I have that many fantasies about celebrities because... I don't know why.
Do you kill your Sims?
No, I don't like that. And also, they're all me. So if I kill one, that would be difficult. In every Sim of myself and alternate reality I've created, we get to a point where I've been pregnant like eight times. And then I just have to raise all of these kids. And, I, as the player of myself, get incredibly bored of my life and then create a whole new family. And I imagine a world in which I kind of go like Medea on my Sim world because I'm so bored. I don't remember your question.
That's triggering because I saw Rose Byrne in Medea and now I'm thinking about her wig line.
Wait, what was it?
No, I mean, she had just a very clocky wig and you could see the lace.
Wait, that's insane. That's like the whole point of a wig is that you don't see it. Wait, was it good?
It was fun, but it was also kind of bad.
My favorite thing in the world is when celebrity couples decide to play at something together, like A Quiet Place . It turns me on to watch them act together.
So if you're in a celebrity couple someday with Kristen Stewart, would you star in a movie with her?
You know what? Absolutely. And you know what else? I would write a really good sex scene.
Photography: Emron Mervin
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