Household plants share their thoughts

Dylan+Mckeever%2C+35%2C+poses+for+a+portrait+at+her+home+inSan+Francisco%2C+Calif.%2C+on+Saturday%2C+Sep.+19%2C+2020.+%28Alex+Drew+%2F+Xpress+Media%29

Alex Drew

Dylan Mckeever, 35, poses for a portrait at her home inSan Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, Sep. 19, 2020. (Alex Drew / Xpress Media)

Similar to a myriad of other industries, comedians are forced to alter their work in order to stay afloat. But virtual performances and digital live streams provide an answer to the difficult adaptation. Dylan McKeever is a 35-year-old comic and writer who chose to venture into the protean virtual arena with her new comedy Instagram series, “Plant Talk.”

The series consists of McKeever using her household plants to create humorous short videos, for which she makes fully moving faces while including audio from friends to give the plants voices. While the plants have an attitude, they are also used to facilitate conversations about important topics such as police brutality and transgender rights.

McKeever’s Plant Talk videos have up to 50,000 views, but she stated that switching from in-person stand up to primarily online performances has proved to be a strange readjustment. 

“I don’t know how much I like being online. I miss the live feedback a lot. It feels more natural and good. Like online, it feels weirdly perverse,” McKeever said. “Also, because I’m just like, in my room like wilding out on a livestream. Whereas a face-to-face feels like how it should be, I think.” 

She began performing stand up a little over a year ago, performing all over the Bay Area at several different venues. McKeever described how at the beginning of the year she was performing about 13 times a month. 

McKeever explained that the entire month of March was fully booked for her, but when the shelter-in-place order was enacted, her entire month was cancelled. Other comedians also struggled to adapt. 

Scheherazade Shafigh, a fellow comedian and preschool teacher, performs in Zoom comedy shows alongside McKeever — such as a “Count Chocula erotica” — and has strong feelings about the experience.

“I hate virtual comedy so much, other than pre-recorded clips and stuff like Plant Talk. But the live virtual comedy is just like nails on a chalkboard because so much of in-person comedy is bouncing off the audience reaction,” Shafigh said. 

“I’ve had to do virtual teaching too, and it’s amazing to me how similar they are and how disappointing they are. So much of teaching young children — especially preschoolers — and in comedy with adults is like you’re working with these people’s attention and making them laugh, because if you miss a beat for a second, they’re gone.”

Dylan Mckeever, 35, poses for a portrait at her home in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, Sep. 19, 2020. (Alex Drew / Xpress Media) (Alex Drew)

While speaking in detail about an episode of Plant Talk, specifically one discussing Black Lives Matter and police brutality via her talking aloe plant, McKeever described the amount of work that went into the production. 

“That was the one that took the most amount of work because it’s hard to make comedy about those like really serious topics, right?” McKeever said. “But I wanted to figure out a way to do it. And I think it worked by making myself look like the sort of ignorant one and have the plant be way more aware of what’s going on.” 

A benefit of having transitioned to online performances is that McKeever is constantly receiving feedback on her content. On Sunday, her first sponsored post for Parade underwear received over 2,500 likes and 130 comments.

“People talk about how scary it must be to get heckled or to perform live; The truth is like, I’ll tell a joke live, and I’ll be like, ‘That’s it, and if you don’t like it, go fuck yourself,’ and everyone’s clapping,” McKeever said. “Whereas for the internet, if I say a joke, It’s like, I’ll do my job. And then I’ll be like, ‘Okay, now’s the part where everyone gets to give me individual feedback.'” 

McKeever’s close friend of over 10 years, Brita Thompson, commented on her  admiration for McKeever’s ability to adapt her craft, calling her “intimidatingly smart, funny and hot.” 

Scheherazade, speaking in a similar vein of admiration, comedically referred to McKeever as “a spicy little Taurus.”

“It’s funny because it’s like she loves friendship and sweetness and coming together, and she has a golden retriever energy,” Scheherazade said. “She’s also very acidic and spicy in her humor in a fun way that I like, that she punches a lot. And I think that’s great. I appreciate that about her.”

When asked about what she hopes for the future, not just for her brand but for herself, McKeever said she hopes to diversify her artistic output.

“I think I’d like to write or act and definitely want to do stand up again. It would be nice to be able to pay the bills doing this,” McKeever said. “But I think one of the main things I just want to focus on is to have fun and to collaborate with my friends … I think what makes good comedy is focusing on having fun.”