Shelby Fero is 21 years old. She was born in 1993. She is the same age as Ariana Grande and the least offensive Jonas brother. She has 113K followers on Twitter, most of whom include celebrities, screenwriters and industry giants, and she's shaping up to be one of the most talked about up-and-coming comedians of her generation.
To put this into perspective, when I was 21 years old, I didn't know what a debit card was and ate microwavable mac 'n' cheese for breakfast. I also thought the sun was, like, 30 miles from Earth.
To add to Shelby's digital resume, she just wrote for a show called Other Space, created by Bridesmaids producer, Paul Feig, which premieres on Yahoo this spring. Not to be pigeon-holed to web-only series, she also writes for television, currently working for my former employer, Adult Swim, on a show called TV Sucks which was created by Brad Neely and will "hopefully premiere at some point".
I'm a massive fan. A good portion of my writing is inspired by her self-deprecating, observational voice. I love her, she makes me feel normal, and I'll never let go, Jack. I strongly encourage all of you to visit Shelby in her beautiful home on the internet (99% sure that's where she actually lives). You can find her on YouTube at Shelby Fero Is a Bummer, on Twitter at @ShelbyFero and on Tumblr at shelbysbutt.tumblr.com.
She would also like you to know she's just generally around.
Listen, I have a lot of questions for you. I just feel like you have all the answers, and I want to capitalize on that as much as possible. You are in for an unpleasant surprise re: having all the answers!
I'm gonna be honest with you, Shelb - can I call you that? The “y” takes up a lot of space on my website. Could have lied and said cause we're chill pals who get nicknames, but yeah, whatever, economy of space is a fine reason too.
I'm gonna be honest with you, Shelb. I've been a fan of yours since 2012 when you tweeted, “I have a cold if anyone wants to hear a solid Adam Levine impression”. I felt an immediate kinship. Why do women love him so much? Wow, what kind of weird, borderline nonsensical, shade was I throwing at Adam Levine when I was a freshman in college who mostly slept on a pile of clothes as high as my actual bed? Or do I think I sing well when I have a cold and is my barometer for "well" Adam Levine? This is really gonna put me in my head for the rest of this.
In preparation for this interview, I've eaten multiple rounds of sandwiches and watched approximately every Shelby Fero video on the internet. My favorite is, of course, the one of you trying to drink water after five hours at the dentist. What kind of sandwiches?? I've been doing avocado, vegan kimchi and garlic powder on wheat a lot lately. And I'm getting back into tuna melts, I think. I'm nervous to say this, especially not having hung out with you long enough to make clear how little I like me as a person, but I fucking love that video. Watching numb people try to drink liquids is as interesting and engaging to me as people brushing their teeth (which is to say very.)
That’s it, that’s all I wanted to say. THIS FEELS LIKE A BAD WAY TO END AN INTERVIEW.
FINE. Your immense success at such a young age fascinates me. You were a senior in high school when you skyrocketed to Twitter fame. I'm not saying high school students aren't capable of such accomplishment, but most aren't even able to make their own lunch. My dad packed my lunches every day before school so you're half right.
You began writing for Cracked.com and building your Twitter empire during the same time. What sparked your interest in comedy? I'm equally nervous the answer will make people roll their eyes at me or push me down and kick dirt in my face; newspaper comic strips were my gateway into comedy, starting when I was maybe six or seven. I probably have every Dilbert, Farside, and Calvin&Hobbes comic books seared into my memory. Cannery Row and that one Edgar Allen Poe short story about the midget jester who has to get drunk to entertain the kind despite knowing the alcohol will kill him (or something like that?) were pretty funny as well. Honestly though, have you gone back and read or watched some old kids' books or shows? Dr. Seuss, Richard Scary, Roald Dahl, Sesame Street, Babar, Frog and Toad -- those were bangers. Dante's Inferno is funny as Hell.
Were you a good student? Yes and no. Until 7th grade I was the annoyingly over-enthusiastic learner who did all their homework and got straight A's. After 7th grade, I was the annoyingly over-enthusiastic learner who never did homework and got by on test scores.
I think you're the next generation's powerful woman in comedy. You'll be running the show very soon. What’s your game plan for edging out Tina Fey? This question kind of sucks 'cause I'm not edging anyone out -- but me calling that out is sort of lame and not very productive on my part -- so I'd say smear campaign directed at people who need glasses which eventually backfires when the public learns I'm farsighted.
You have a collection of celebrity Twitter followers. Who's your favorite? The general concept of empathy.
Walk me through a day in the life of a highly-regarded Twitter personality. If I'm working I wake up at 6am, walk or swim, go to work, watch a show or movie, go to bed by 10:30pm. If I'm not working, each day is a macabre sham and brutal mockery of a meaningful existence. Sometimes, on the weekend, I'll go to spin class!
I feel panicked for you for having to be "always on" on Twitter. Do you feel a sense of obligation to keep up with it as much as you do? Honestly, I try to keep myself toned down most of the time. Once, when I was maybe 11 or 12, my eldest sister soberly turned to me and said "you don't always have to be on." Another time, both my older sisters decided they would genuinely hold up little signs that said "not funny" any time I made a joke they found, you know, not funny. I think by that point they realized I was going to be annoying no matter what, so they might as well take an active hand in shaping their entertainment.
Do you ever scroll back through your feed and delete tweets you don't like anymore? Sometimes, usually within the same day if I find it too critical, or petty in some way, or think my dad might try to text me to talk about it.
At least your dad texts. Mine calls a desktop computer "InstaBook". Can you give us our very own Shelbyism right here, right now? I believe anger is a useless emotion and waste of energy and I will fucking fight any nerd that says otherwise.
Tell me about your involvement with Key & Peele. I just watched the Substitute Teacher episode and was laughing so hard I had to take an Ibuprofen. I can't take credit for any enjoyment people get out of that sketch. That's all those two guys. Someone over there decided to ask me to be in it and I showed up and I got to be a part of a video that still gets me recognized out in LA by German tourists.
Is there a show or project you’d like to be a part of? Literally any of them. I'd take four weeks working anywhere almost anytime. Movies, TV, music videos, animation, marine biology, after school tutoring, CERN -- I'd love to have the luxury of working at Starbucks for a week to see what it's like (the luxury being I could then get to quit whenever I wanted). I can get into anything for awhile. I'm sort of everything wrong with this generation.
I can feel my Gen X readers leaving in droves. Who inspires you? MY GRANDMA (WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS CUZ I'M BEING SINCERE AS FUCK)
Hi, Grandma! She's totally reading this! Favorite thing you've ever written? I tried to get one character's "thing" to be he fart and burps simultaneously when scared but I was rightfully shot down.
You're gaining exposure in front of the camera as well. Do you prefer acting over writing? Sometimes! It's hard. I have a lot of respect for actors and will never be great at it, but I love it enough to try for a lot longer than I deserve.
You also partake in stand-up and improv. Do live shows make you nervous? I think I would faint and die if someone told me I had to say jokes out loud in a small room with barely any windows. Stand-up scares the Hell out of me. Improv does too, but in the best way possible.
Let’s move to a more informal line of questioning. In an ideal world, who would you want to be best friends with? This can be anyone, except Adam Levine. The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become.
You’re a sleepwalker. I am too! Tell me about a favorite sleeping-walking adventure. I woke up outside my hotel room, trying to get back into it without a key, on a sports trip in eighth or ninth grade. It was 3am, and I had to go to the front desk to ask for a new key. The woman didn't even bat an eye which still makes me uncomfortable today. Like, thank you for the help, but also, should you be more concerned about the situation?
This is about to get real, but my biggest fear is sleepwalking out a hotel window or into a small, dangerous space like the inside of a cement truck. Is there anything else you want to tell me? I’m here for you. I'm very flattered you asked me to do this and am trying to get these questions done as quickly as possible before I decide I don't deserve it and go back to watching Justice League cartoons and YouTube videos about WWI.
Let's end by switching roles. Hit me with your best interview questions.
Where did you grow up? A beautiful little suburb outside of Columbus, Ohio. It's like the movie Pleasantville, but Tobey Maguire doesn't live there.
Do you have any siblings? Were your parents in the picture? Did you like them? Did they like you? My parents are are wonderful and are celebrating their 40th anniversary this September. They are very much in the picture. I text my mom 376 times a day -- very clingy. I have an older brother named Will who used to trap me inside storage units and trip me as I came sprinting down the stairs on Christmas morning. Somehow he's my parents' favorite.
Would it affect you more if you thought someone didn't like you or if someone thought you don't like them? I'VE WRITTEN SIX DIFFERENT ANSWERS THIS QUESTION IS BREAKING ME
Do you have a dog or a baby? I have a dog AND a baby! They both bite.
If so, can we all hang out? Yes! But how do you feel about throw up?
If not, do you just like wanna hang out? That would probably be less of a disaster. Or would it? I'm genuinely not sure.
Stay tuned for Lauren & Shelby the Squeakuel where Shelb and I eat sandwiches and sleepwalk around LA.