Meg Stalter excels at making people laugh uncontrollably. She is now prepared to display her “earnest” side to you.

Meg Stalter excels at making people laugh uncontrollably. She is now prepared to display her “earnest” side to you.

This article is a part of a USA TODAY series exploring the history of comedy and the prospects for the business in the modern era.

Meg Stalter is aware of her brand.

Thanks in part to her deliciously cringeworthy character videos on social media, the actress and comedian became the uncommon breakout star of the epidemic era: an irritated hairstylist, a delusional hookup, and a stammering butter shop proprietor during Pride Month (“Hi, Gay!”).

“I get tagged in the craziest breakdown video you’ve ever seen, and it’s like, ‘This is so Meg,'” states Stalter. “My characters are people who are going insane but are trying to act normal,” the author once said. Even though they are aware that their home is on fire, they are making an effort to appear normal.

Missalter Meg


Meg Stalter, a comedian and actress
It will be like, “This is so Meg,” when I am tagged in the wildest breakdown video you’ve ever seen.
The 31-year-old stand-up comedian’s rising career on both the big and small screens was made possible by Stalter’s wonderfully insane videos: She portrays Kayla, the worst assistant in the entire world, at a Hollywood talent agency in the HBO Max series “Hacks,” which concluded up its second season in May. She is currently working on the network’s half-hour comedy pilot “Church Girls,” which is based on her upbringing in the church. She also has her first leading role in the upcoming movie “Cora Bora,” in which she plays a struggling singer seeking to win her ex-girlfriend back.

Paul W. Downs, who also plays Kayla’s employer Jimmy in the television series “Hacks,” claims that Meg is a perfect illustration of someone who only does what makes her happy. “She’s having fun, and that’s something you can always feel when you see the finest comedians. She’s not doing what she thinks is castable or what would get her views.”

Stalter discusses her professional goals, the future of comedy, and her love of Che Diaz with USA TODAY:

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Before going viral during quarantine on Twitter and Instagram, you posted videos on YouTube. What brought you to comedy using a front-facing camera?

Answer: I believe that our only choice during COVID-19 was the reason I was acting in that way. We were all panicking about not being able to perform live, and I was so depressed about everything that was happening. “OK, how can I perform when I’m alone in my New York apartment,” was all that came to mind.

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How spontaneously do your videos usually happen?

Stalter: When planning, there are instances when somebody will say, “I have a hilarious idea I’m going to do this week.” Other times, like in the “Hi, Gay!” video, I simply had the idea and began filming. I often write out what I want to say first, then improvise and say it completely differently. However, I truly wrote that one in order to make it appear as though she was reading from a prompter.

Your portrayal of a Hollywood agent calling Che Diaz, a nonbinary comedian portrayed by Sara Ramirez in HBO Max’s “And Just Like That,” has completely captured my attention.

I had a serious Che Diaz addiction. I actually DM’d (Ramirez) three times after watching their famous scene where they’re making love to Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) in the kitchen, saying how much I loved them because I think Che Diaz is hot. I said, “Hello, I really enjoy your on-screen role, you’re doing a terrific job.” However, as Instagram messages may now be sent back, I deleted all of them when they claimed they hadn’t seen it.

At the MTV Movie and TV Awards held in Santa Monica, California, last month, Meg Stalter walked the red carpet.
At the MTV Movie and TV Awards held in Santa Monica, California, last month, Meg Stalter walked the red carpet.
God, oh God. You must be added to the upcoming season.

I would adore the role of Che Diaz’s love interest. Maybe something like a sidepiece.

We got to witness a different side of Kayla in Season 2 of “Hacks,” one that is more thoughtful and driven but still absolutely crazy. How was that evolution demonstrated?

Playing some of the more wholesome scenes was quite exhilarating. The sweet things just make her more of a whole person and make the crazy, bizarre things even funny. It’s fun to watch their relationship develop because they’ve been so insane to each other, and I believe she and Jimmy actually love each other.

What do you predict will happen to comedy in the future? Are there any changes taking place that motivate you?

There aren’t really any regulations at all. I was attempting to fit into the structure of “You’re telling a joke, and if you want to do a character, you have to build it up this way” when I first started doing stand-up. On stage, though, you should actually act in a way that you find humorous. People enjoy both laughing and seeing sincerity in others. And I believe that’s what’s going on right now: Vulnerability in comedy. Although my material for stage always takes on this persona, it also has a larger message about staying loyal to who you are.

The central characters in “Hacks” are Jimmy (Paul W. Downs, on the left) and Kayla (Meg Stalter), a charming odd couple.
The central characters in “Hacks” are Jimmy (Paul W. Downs, on the left) and Kayla (Meg Stalter), a charming odd couple.
How vital is it to you to surround yourself with other queer creatives and incorporate queerness into your work in light of “Hacks,” “Cora Bora,” and “Church Girls”?

Making “Cora Bora” alongside this group of LGBTQ individuals has changed my career. The narrative is exquisite. It’s funnier and sweeter than anything I’ve ever done, but it’s also more serious.

And through “Church Girls,” I want to demonstrate to people that just because you’re gay doesn’t mean that God and being connected to the world are not for you. This is essential to me as someone who loves and believes in God and is also a queer person. The performance is crucial to me because it allows me to laugh at the absurdities of church while also conveying a more significant message (self-love). When I was young and thought, “Oh, I’m bi and I can be myself,” I felt closer to God than at any other time in my life.

The projects I’m working on, in my opinion, are a little more serious than what I’ve previously displayed online, and I can’t wait for people to see that side. Making people laugh is very essential, but I value loving and caring for people more than I ever will another joke.

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