If you’re into Weird Twitter or feminist TV shows that are no longer on the air, you’ve probably crossed digital paths with Demi Adejuyigbe, who is known better by his Twitter handle @electrolemon. Despite being in his early 20s, the writer/creator has co-created the incredibly popular Gilmore Guys podcast and runs his own spin-off show for the annoyingly popular @Midnight on Comedy Central.
We sat down with the social media star to talk about turning dumb internet jokes into dumb internet reality, stealing your parents’ DVD collection, and how to make the perfect Christmas carol/Kanye West mash-up.
So what’s your deal?
I was born in London and stayed there until I was five. My family moved to Texas and I stayed there, through the end of college. In high school, I started learning about all these production systems for audio and video, but mostly used them to do boring school work. In college, I started to find real passions for art and cinema, and that paralleled becoming a rising star on Twitter. I had all these skill sets for making stupid, interesting things I wanted to see in the world, and so I just dove into that.
When did you realize @electrolemon had become an identity?
At one point in college, I tweeted a joke and it got 100 favs. And I thought, “Wow this is crazy.” And at the end of the week I checked back in and it had 1000 favs. And I thought, “Uh oh.” Because that was happening on this scale I didn’t have any ability to understand. I made a very conscious effort to do something different and never ape anyone else’s style. I was obsessed with the rise of Weird Twitter, because before that you mostly had people making these very relatable and honest statements about their life, and suddenly you had a different channel of people exploring comedy through pretending to be a monster or a fax machine or something. And I thought, “I want to be in that weird world, but I also want people to know I’m a person named Demi, not like, a dog in a trench coat.” Acknowledging your personhood helps separate you from a stream of jokes.
I think I first became aware of you when you were posting selfies with an overwhelming number of DVDs for the movie Click that you’d pranked your parents with by hiding in their home.
I had bought all of them and used them for a sketch four months earlier, and I’d left them with my parents, who probably look at those DVDs a few times a day, and months later they’d still never noticed. It wasn’t supposed to be a prank, they just never cared.
DVDs at your parents house are kind of a recurring theme in what you cover.
I wanted to find a copy of Monk Season 4 because I wanted to steal it from my parents. Yeah, I wanted to steal Monk from my parents; that’s who I am. And I found two copies of What Women Want which made me laugh because why? Why would that happen? Did they buy a copy and forget or, worse, did someone gift them a copy of What Women Want for some reason? And then I saw The Green Mile and thought I’d “borrow” that. Guess what? Inside was a third copy of What Women Want. Why would this happen? What set of circumstances allows that to happen? No one knows.
You’ve had a somewhat meteoric rise from college students making weird online jokes to now running your own spin-off show for @Midnight. How do the rest of us steal your system for success?
Vine came up while I was in college, and it was the perfect platform for me and my friends to do something really stupid all of the time and share it with the world. I had that in my pocket when I moved to LA and started working as an office manager for Fox’s ADHD programming. Then I interned at Red Hour Productions, Ben Stiller’s company. While I was there, some of the producers became aware of my online presence, so when Funny Or Die was looking for a Vine producer, they set me up on a meeting with the digital team. I went from there to the production team at @Midnight and that’s where I’ve been since.
I always love this moment where I get to refer to you as a Vine Star because I know it stings.
Yeah. It really hurts.
It is bizarre that Twitter Star can refer to so many types of people, both talented and awful, but Vine Star seems to only refer to the worst people on the planet. Do you want to apologize to America?
Here’s my theory on it. Twitter gets used by everyone. Most people have a Twitter so they understand what it does and everyone starts with equal footing. But when Vine came out, it was already being dominated by idiot kids being idiot kids and becoming millionaires off being that kind of idiot. That was the first impression of Vine and it was hard for anyone to move beyond. When I started with it, I was just having a wacky time, and suddenly it had eclipsed my Twitter following because I was one of a very limited number of people making interesting content for a very different audience. I don’t want to shit on Vine though, because there are still brilliant people doing brilliant things, I’m just saying I see where this went wrong. It’s the dumbest snowball effect.
It would be impossible to talk about Demi without talking about the mash-up music you make. I was made aware of this a while back when you spent an entire month making daily mash-up songs based on tweets you saw, and you grabbed inspiration from one of mine.
A long while back, I heard a Matt & Kim song with this killer beat, and I thought it deserved to be in a mash-up. So I taught myself how to find acapella tracks (or make them) and remixed it into this really cool piece which I took great joy in finishing and sharing with the world. I thought I should chase that feeling, so I searched for “mash-up” jokes made by the people I followed on Twitter and started making their one-off jokes into something real.
I had a joke that was maybe three years old about mixing a Nickleback song with Hollaback Girl and then you just made it. You just made it be real in the world. Like a monster.
Yeah. I did that for a whole month even though people on day five were already like, “Yeah. We get it.”
What spoke to you about mash-up culture?
In 2009, I heard Jaydiohead which is a Jay-Z/Radiohead mash-up album. There’s this huge range of emotions inherent in mash-ups where there’s a very specific euphoria. “Oh wow, those two things shouldn’t work together but they do.” So I wanted a cool reason to start doing this kind of thing, and the #TwitterJamsJuly thing was a great excuse. Honestly, I came to music so late that Jaydiohead was my introduction to both Jay-Z and Radiohead, so I’d like to think I could give that kind of introduction of great artists to some other unsuspecting kid.
I always feel that you and I have a connection in our desire to do high-concept things for no one but ourselves. I never felt this connection stronger than on Christmas Day this year, when you released an album of Kanye West raps mixed with Christmas carols called ‘Tis The Yeezy Season. This is, honestly and truly, a project for absolutely no one.
I had the idea earlier that week. I was stuck in hotel rooms on the road and just thought, why not? And that’s kind of my process now, because there’s nothing funnier than actually going through with a joke. I’m not sure if this was even a joke, but it was an idea where I could ask “Why not? What’s stopping me? Someone should.” And I do. I do it, Brock. For no one.
You host Points Party which is a Snapchat only @Midnight spin-off talk show, where you do weird five minute interviews with guests from the main show. It’s the only reason I have Snapchat on my phone, and I think it is a way better expression for the comedy of your guests than the show itself.
Comedy Central came to the show and asked for pitches for Snapchat content a long time ago. We gave them some ideas, and one was called Podversations which involved me and some of the digital team talking with guests and doing loose improv. It was a terrible name because no one understood our internal name for the digital production office was The Pod. It sounds like a podcast or something. Anyway, we never heard back on the idea. About a year later they said, “Eh, do it.” So we shot an episode with Thomas Lennon and it went great. So we just started making more. I think I get what you’re saying about it being a good outlet, because when comedians are on @Midnight they’re usually nervous and competitive and it is a tight shoot. So when we’re just hanging out in a little office, they feel more laid back and it allows for some delightful moments.
What’s ahead for the podcast Gilmore Guys?
Brock Wilbur is coming back on our show which is very exciting. Did anyone tell you yet?
Oh. That’s fine. This seems the appropriate way to find out about that.
But yeah, we’re probably done with the whole series in August? At least until the new episodes hit Netflix. We’re wrapping up and then we’re doing a quick burn through the other Amy Sherman-Palladino show Bunheads with a show called Bunhead Boys or Bunhead Bros and then me and Kevin [Porter] are going to take some time to focus on other things. I think he’s got another podcast idea all lined-up but I’m probably going to take a breather from the podcast world.
What’s your 2016 look like?
I’m going to start balancing what I make for no one with what I make for my career and, you know, money. I’ve been procrastinating on making some big leaps, and now is the time.
You can follow Demi at @electrolemon for updates on all of his projects for no one but maybe for you. Also, check out his cameo in the music video for Allie Goertz’s Rick And Morty tribute album here.