Need to Know: Lesbian Comedienne Quinn Marcus

11.15.2012

By Benjamin Lindsay

The breakout personality of mtvU’s 'Quinnterviews' talks comedy, awkward moments, and life as a gay entertainer.

What is it that interested you about improv and this quirky take on interviews in the first place?

I did improv in high school. When I did plays, there was one time we got to do improv, and I just realized I should not be doing plays, and that I’m not a good actor but that I really love just thinking on my feet and saying whatever came to my head in relation to being in the scene with my partner. So when we went out and filmed, it just kind of came easy to me. It’s my favorite thing to do.

Do you find that you approach both stage improv and Quinnterviews with a similar sense of humor?

I think Quinnterviews is different because I’m by myself, whereas my improv troupe is kind of a team thing, so it’s less selfish. I have to work with my team, so if I have something to say, I don’t always say it because it affects everybody. But with Quinnterviews, it’s just me.

How do you decide who to interview?

I guess we just grab whoever walks by. People surprise you. Somebody who looks like a businessman walking down the street, you think he doesn’t have the time. But then sometimes they just talk to you for a very long time ... and you wonder where they actually work.

How do you decide what to interview people about?

When I did the Quinnterviews just for YouTube, we would pick a random topic like ‘Earth Day,’ or ‘Love.’ But now that we’re with MTV, it’s based on the average college student’s year. So coming up we’re doing ‘Going Home for Thanksgiving,’ and we’re going to do ‘Spring Break.’ It’s less random and more based with the topic.

Do you ever hope to take Quinnterviews and branch away from the college demographic?

I think that college kids will always love it, but, I mean, my mom says she likes it so I think—she might be lying—but I think other people can like it, too. She might just be being nice.

You identify as gay. Do you think coming into comedy with that perspective at all influences your approach in humor?

Being gay, I’m very comfortable with myself. I had to get that way, so I think that I have a confidence that definitely helps. And I really don’t have any inhibitions [which is] probably part of being gay, too. I don’t really care if I walk up to a man and say something, or a woman. I kind of just talk to everybody the same. I think with Quinnterviews especially I kind of just flirt with everybody. I do think that being gay helped me get this confidence. It kind of just comes with a freedom to just say whatever I want.

Do you ever worry about breaking away from the traditionally more progressive college audience as a gay entertainer?

No, and I think it’s because I grew up in a very supportive household, and then I went to Boston and it’s very supportive, and Emerson is very supportive. I’ve never really known opposition or prejudice. I think that that has helped me in a way because I don’t allow myself to be afraid of that. I don’t think, “Oh, I’m scared for next year because I won’t have this support.” I’m not going out there asking for any negativity—I just look to positivity. So I’m not really afraid of that, and I wouldn’t really accept it.

There are some very prominent lesbian comediennes in the industry right now—Ellen DeGeneres and Jane Lynch, just to name the obvious two. Do they at all influence you?

I think they’re all very funny, but honestly my biggest influences are David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel. I don’t really view myself as a gay comedienne or a female comedienne. I view myself as a comedienne that is a gay woman. My humor and my jokes … I don’t do it through a gay lens. I am who I am—that lens is just gay.

You credit David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel as your inspiration. Is that something that you aspire to one day? Maybe taking on a late night show arena?

Yes, I definitely want to be a late night talk show host. They’re my inspiration for their humor and their skill at being a talk show host, not for their sexual preference. But we all like women.

Check out more of the mtvU series, Quinnterviews.

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