You may have seen his pink avatar retweeted into your timeline, or perhaps you’ve seen him on Comedy Central’s Snapchat Discover channel—Brandon Wardell seems to be everywhere (and mostly online) these days.
“He is definitely a millennial nuisance,” Wardell’s comedy affiliate @sexualjumanji notes.
While many know the 23-year-old comedian through his lower-case, meme-heavy social accounts, Robesman reminded us that Wardell started on stage long before “this whole Twitter thing," saying “Brandon has been grinding at comedy since he’s been 16 or 17.”
Those who’ve followed the up-and-coming Wardell online in the past year or so (namely Twitter) will note that his collaboration with other “comedy accounts” is what truly plays off his best comedic assets. Take for example, his tweets with the recent viral sensation and self-proclaimed “THE messy bitch who lives for drama” Joanne The Scammer.
“He was promoting me while I didn’t know who he was,” Joanne told Fuse. “What I do with the character Joanne, he kind of discovered that and showed his friends. Plus, it’s always a good look when someone verified promotes you.”
I recently had the chance to catch up with Wardell to talk comedy, Twitter and Ubering while doing what millennials do best: brunch in Brooklyn.
Fuse: Tell us Brandon, what’s the day-to-day life of an ~influencer~?
Wardell: That’s the frustrating thing online! People don’t really know what I do. They’re like “Oh, he tweets?” when I search myself, it’s usually “what does he do? He has a blue check next to his name.” But I do stand up on the road, at colleges.
Most people don’t really understand how the Internet Famous side lives. How do you literally live off your online persona?
I just finished my pilot for Viceland (called “Rap Nerd”, hosted from my bedroom) this year, and I do the Comedy Central Snapchat, which is what supplements my lifestyle. I also did creative consulting for a network. And I have little gigs here and there. The problem is I tweet so much, that sometimes people aren’t seeing what I’m promoting. It all gets lost in the shuffle.
[*pause* “Oh damn, they have tomato soup.” Wardell orders coffee with half and half, grilled cheese & tomato soup and an over medium egg on the side.]
What would you say was your big viral break?
The Vice article (Brandon Wardell's Guide to Sex with Millennials) sort of put me on the map. I also did Funny or Die’s Snapchat for a bit, which didn’t last. Then I started to do some freelance writing, like reviewing Wale’s album for The Washington Post. This past December is when things really picked up and my live comedy dates started to stack.
What’s it like to cut the Starbucks line every morning for being verified?
Oh, well, you know, I just show it at the door. This past month, I had to move out of my place on the 1st but didn’t have another apartment until the 15th. I had to stay on my friend’s couch and put my things in storage, and that’s when I got an email from my agent like, “Hey check your Instagram, you’re verified!”
It was like, “Oh cool, I’m verified on Instagram but I’m also homeless.” So that was a wild millennial dichotomy.
[At this point, Brandon eats an entire egg yolk in one bite—which was both horrifying and endearing?]
On the topic of “Internet fame,” let’s talk the New Teen Dream. These days, young people are growing up in the hopes of literally becoming “Internet famous.” As someone who sort of fell into it and has a lot of young people looking up to you, what are your thoughts on this phenomenon as a career path?
It’s pretty crazy to me. I was doing stand up way before I was popping on Twitter. I didn’t seriously start using it until around 2015. Now it’s become my main platform. I mean, more people come up to me and say, “Yo, I love your Twitter!” than “Oh, I saw you on Comedy Central,” which is a true testament of the time and this whole movement.
Twitter’s also a great dating app.
I’ve noticed that you haven’t really been on your phone while we’ve been talking, though!
Oh yeah, I really wanna be present for this.
That’s great! Oh wait, it’s plugged in charging a few feet away.
Do you feel that there’s spillage of your online persona into your standup routine, and vice versa?
They’re two completely separate things. It’s short form vs. monologues. With standup, I love to tell stories, which is something I can’t do on Twitter. As far as comedy goes, they’re two separate avenues.
Most important question: favorite Views track?
It’s hard. I love, like, 75 percent of the album. What’s the one with PARTYNEXTDOOR called again?
*singing* “It’s about us right now, girl, where you going? Ohh ohh.”
We should probably pause and address fuckboy culture.
I feel like people think I represent fuckboys.
Hmmm, in a self-aware way, though! We also need to cover memes before you finish eating.
Okay, yes. Hold on, I need more coffee [waves down waiter for a few minutes].
They don’t even have registers here, they calculate your bill by hand. I can’t tell if it’s ironic or they’re just anti tech.
Cool, we have more coffee. Ugh, I need more Splenda.
Were you always into incorporating hip-hop into your comedy?
I got really into rap in late high school. More and more, over the years, it’s become infused into my Twitter comedy. And sometimes I fake-DJ (hook up Spotify) at parties.
So, does it offend you when people accuse you of “building a career off Bush did 9/11 memes?”
Wait, people say that?! I mean, I had that one tweet combining the Netflix & Chill and 9/11. It’s just two buzzwords. But yes, I do get that. People say, “Oh you just built a career off co-opting Twitter culture.”
Yeah, but what is Twitter culture these days, right?
Right, it’s just “culture.” It’s just me understanding the Internet and using it in a way that’s smart.
Speaking of being a poster boy millennial, you live in LA but love to “Uber Everywhere.”
Pre-rolls in the VIP! I haven’t finessed the Uber sponsorship, but we’re getting there.
What do your parents think now that they’re seeing productivity out of your career path?
They’re chill. I pay for my own life, so it’s cool. I feel like I’ve sort of backed myself up into a corner where I have to do cool shit.
Yeah, like now people expect you in the newest OVO sweatshirt on the red carpet.
[*We both stare at the bill* How many millennials does it take to figure out a hand written bill?]
What’s your career trajectory for the next couple of years?
Endgame wise: I wanna do my own 30-minute show that I spearhead. Also, I’m still not dating Ariana [Grande], ya know. So, there’s that.