Allen Strickland Williams on one-liners, sketch comedy and #YesAllWomen
Most SNL sketches could end like a minute earlier than they do. When did you guys start opening the sketches up visually after starting with that static template?
Basically, when Pat came on board. He's truly a phenomenal director. He has this ability to visualize things and he knows what he wants. It's allowed us to be more ambitious.
Are you still writing for Vice?
I write for Vice a little bit, I don't do it that much. I'm more of like a contributor, and if they have group stuff, I'll throw in on that. It's a lot of work, doing all your own research, taking your own pictures -- right now it's just not what I'm focused on. Women have been writing a pilot and trying to get that settled and out there. Right now, I kind of just want to get that done; then I'll figure out my life.
I wanted to ask about "Fellas", the Tumblr post you wrote -- I know you weren't trying to get a bunch of accolades for it -- on the #YesAllWomen hashtag. What compelled you to write that and what has the response been?
Basically it's been good. Sometimes, online, you can't tell if it's just an echo chamber, you know? For the most part, in my twitter feed, other than the occasional outlier, I see mostly things that I basically agree with. Does that devalue any of the discourse, though? I had always kind of had that take on it, like "this is cheapening it. We're not really doing anything about the problem, we're just kind of saying the same stuff." But then I thought to myself, as I was reading through the #YesAllWomen tweets -- and maybe it was just the sheer amount and the vulnerability it just moved me so much. I was at a comedy festival, and every night, I'd read through those tweets before I went to bed. I hate to say this, but I actually started to think differently about this issue. I also hate to say that I never got fired up enough to engage #NotAllMen. I understand the knee-jerk reaction of saying, "Oh, not me!" but look again at what some of these women are saying. Unfortunately, I've been on the other side of some of those. It's really shameful to admit. Hey, maybe everyone is a perfect angel, but I really think that if every guy looked in the mirror a little bit, they'd be like, "Oh, fuck." So I went through that, and I thought that maybe someone else was in the same head space as I was and maybe it would mean something to them if they read it, maybe they just needed a little nudge. I'm not saying that I have a powerful voice or anything, though, as a straight, white male, your voice does kind of have that power.
Well, we're allowed by society to leave our decisions unexamined as long as our intentions are good. Women don't necessarily get that privilege. I understand the hesitancy to admit it, but that inequality factors into a lot of relationships. It has to come out somewhere.
Exactly. What I was trying to say is that I do think a lot of this is unconscious. I don't think that we're always bad people, but we've been conditioned, trained and rewarded for that behavior. I really was just moved, and I wanted to say something, so I did. Since I wrote, I've got texts from friends saying,"Thank you for writing that. The straight, white, male voice is very powerful." I had never thought that before, but yeah, we do kind of like just listening to each other. A lot of women seemed to -- and I thought the essay was going to make me look pretty bad, which I was fine with -- but one of my friend told me, "It was as if you'd listened before you put your piece in," and she said that was a very important thing to get. I think part of the reason the country is so polarized is because we're not listening.
Anything else you want to mention before we wrap up?
I think we're doing a show on Sunday at the Bohemian Biergarten.
Women will descend on the Oriental on Saturday, June 21. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show. Tickets, 21+, cost $15 and include a free, large Sexy Pizza when ordered from the Oriental Theater website.
Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.