The Layered Humor: Comedy and Plants of Dylan McKeever

Watching San Francisco-based comedian Dylan McKeever on their Instagram TV interview their plants, talk about Trans dating, or even coping mechanisms—you’re equal parts gutturally laughing and coming to realizations.

McKeever’s content is a learning experience wrapped in a silk scarf of high and low comedy. In one of their most popular videos, The Surgery, it’s a layered sandwich of “keep your opinions about my body and genitals to yourself” and well… We don’t want to spoil it. We can safely say, we’re obsessed with McKeever—there is something about them that makes you feel magnetized and pulled into what ever topic is being discussed. When we got to stop by their home for a quick photoshoot (masked and distanced, of course,) we could visually see the personality span across all four walls of their bedroom.

McKeever has spent a lot of time in their bedroom—as soon as the pandemic hit, McKeever’s social standup career fizzled like most to all in-person workers. But a quote rang through their head, taking it to heart, McKeever endeavored on creating digital content.

Memorabilia, art, items found in the city—you can’t help but feel McKeever’s colorful mind wrap around you. The piece of gold however, the magnificent greenery they have cultivated around the room. The greenest, healthiest, and boisterous plants (see the Plant Talk series) you ever did see. Though comedy is just one step for McKeever, as we discuss below, a whole range of ideas and concepts is brimming to the surface of this local femme.

Q

For the readers who may not know of you and your work—tell us who you are, what you do, give us the spiel?

A

Yes, hi! My name is Dylan, I’m a standup comedian, writer, and video maker based here in SF. I’m a double earth sign, I love dim sum, dogs, afternoon naps and all of the pleasures earth has to offer. 

Q

With coming into your own, how did comedy find its way into your every day? You were doing comedy shows before and now it’s mainly gone digital.

A

Yep, I’d been performing live standup for about 9 months before the pandemic shut everything down. Around that time I heard an interview with comedian Roy Wood Jr. where he said something to the effect of “well, if you’re a new standup, this really sucks—but you can adapt by finding an outlet online” and I really took that advice to heart! It’s kind of wild to think that I’ve now been making comedy longer in pandemic times than I had during normal times.

Q

How did you start to grow your comedy online, especially Instagram? Were there sketches or bits that stuck more than others? Why do you think people responded well to them?

A

In the early days of the shutdown I spent all my time indoors with only my plants for company. I thought it’d be fun to make a show where I interview them and discover their complex personalities, motivations, and politics. For the first episode, I had my pilea plant (voiced by my ex, shoutout) insist on me buying it a gun. It ended up being really fun to put together and people responded positively so I kept making more. Since then it’s been a combination of Plant Talk episodes, standup jokes, memes, and self-indulgent thirst traps. Somehow it all fits together?


McKeever in their room where all of the content, editing, and audio work is done.

McKeever in their room where all of the content, editing, and audio work is done.

Q

As a comedian and also a Transgender woman, do the two have parallels and when do they overlap? Do you use comedy as teaching moments or?

A

Yes, coming to terms with who I am and feeling secure in my identity was key for performing standup. There’s this adage that comedians tend to be older because it takes life experience and perspective and a strong sense of self to be a great performer. And I don’t know if that’s completely true but it adheres to my own narrative so I’m going with it!

As far as teaching moments, I like to project this fresh, unassailable confidence when I’m on stage, one that demands the audience meet me where I’m at instead of asking for permission or acceptance. I think this approach can be a teaching moment in itself – though that’s not exactly my goal. My main goal is to make the audience laugh.

Q

When creating, writing, concepting, when do you know an idea is going to stick? And on the flipside, when do you know an idea is going to be a flop?

A

For concepting, I tend to focus on a topic or opinion that I genuinely care about and then work backwards to find the funny in it. I’ll run these thoughts by my (eternally patient) friends and slowly flesh out the ideas into something with structure and intentionality. In those early phases, I try to prioritize what I find funny or amusing above anything else. The worst thing I can do is think about whether an idea will succeed or flop online because the internet is so fickle and unpredictable. I’ve had a creative path with lots of ups and downs and I know that the joy of success cannot be relied on. Fortunately, the joy of creating good work is always within reach—so that’s where I try to center my energy (this is also my big old Capricorn moon speaking).

Q

How was the moment of quitting your job and moving into a freelance, comedy / art path? What were the takeaways from that moment? How did you bargain with yourself to do that?

A

Ah well I’m still in the process of doing that! I used to work full time in tech before starting comedy and had a really awful time there. However, trying and failing to work in corporate helped reaffirm that I have to pursue creative work in my life – it’s in my blood, it’s who I’ve always been. So when I switched to part time work in order to pursue comedy, it was more of a return to form than anything else. 


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McKeever (left) sitting with their microphone that makes multiple appearances in all their videos. This microphone has been with McKeever since their early music days.

McKeever (left) sitting with their microphone that makes multiple appearances in all their videos. This microphone has been with McKeever since their early music days.

Q

What aspirations do you have for your work? Is there any gold standard of where you want to be or doing?

A

I want to create work that uplifts people and provides relief and connection. I want it to be joyful and silly but also resonant and incisive in the right places. But more than anything, I just love goofing and I love sharing my goofs with my friends. That’s the mindset I want to continue holding as I create work.

Q

Misconceptions that you’ve experienced or an anecdote from your career? You don’t need to name names or places, what were those learnings?

A

Hmm, I actually enjoy the misconceptions people have about me? Because I see it as ammo for my standup material. For example when I get on stage people see a cute, mildly dressed, Asian cis woman. And it’s a joy to break those first impressions apart.

Q

On a lighter note, what are some of your favorite Bay Area haunts that inspire you, get you in the right mind set, etc?

A

I love all the slow streets San Francisco has opened since the pandemic began. One of my favorites is Page Street starting in Lower Haight and extending all the way into Golden Gate Park. I’ve taken this route hundreds of times during my daily sanity walks and never seem to tire of it. Besides that, the Big Rec Field is perfect for lounging and Glen Canyon park is a hike that makes you forget you’re in the middle of the city. For dog watching, I like to frequent Alamo Square and Duboce park. 

Q

Who are some of your favorite Bay Area (or national) comics that you love and want to shout out?

A

Right now I am completely obsessed with Conner O’Malley. I think his videos are a reflection of broken white male identity taken to the absolute extreme. It’s so wildly bizarre, idiosyncratic, hyper-manic, and deeply funny. Besides him my favs are Julio Torres, Michelle Buteau, and Bill Burr.


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McKeever (left) and one of the many plants used in the wildly popular series “Plant Talks” on Instagram.

McKeever (left) and one of the many plants used in the wildly popular series “Plant Talks” on Instagram.

Q

We think it’s cursed to say that “2021 is our year” but we optimistically want to ask, what’s something you’re excited for that you can share from your work, personally, or just in general in the world?

A

Since the beginning of the year I’ve gotten my first writing, acting and modeling jobs and I’m very excited about that. It feels nice to be recognized as a creative entity and actually get paid for my work. Beyond that I want to keep writing new material, making video content, and get back on stage as a standup. It’s been such a harrowing year and I feel like I’m just beginning to have the space to process and synthesize it into something actually funny.

Q

The final question: Who were you? Who are you? And who are you becoming?

A

I’m just a little goofball trying to goof. Always have been, always will be. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to let it flourish.

// Check out the list of projects by Dylan McKeever; deemakes.com. Make sure to follow them on Instagram as well; instagram.com/deemakes. Photography by Anthony Rogers


The Layered Humor: Comedy and Plants of Dylan McKeever
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