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Writer, comedian, and actress Desi Lydic was about to leave her doctor’s office after a routine mammogram when she saw a text from the producer at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah that she was nominated for an Emmy Award. It is one of seven Emmy nominations that the show recently received.
The woman at the center of the viral videos, including Desi Lydic Foxsplains, in which she watches “hundreds of hours of uninterrupted FOX News so you don’t have to.” These hilarious segments have received more than 12. 6 million views on YouTube.
Lydic, who joined The Daily Show in 2015, says that in the back of her mind she remembered the nominations would be announced that day, but her thoughts were about the show, and not herself.
“I was just leaving a doctor’s appointment after my annual mammogram, where it’s not comfortable to talk about a real rollercoaster of emotion, and got that big news,” Lydic exclusively tells Parade.com. “So it definitely brightened up my day big time! It feels like a big deal!”
Read on to find out more about the inner workings of The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, where her confidence came from, and her excitement over the Emmys.
How did you get to be so funny?
Desi Lydic: Pain. So much pain in my early life. I think that’s the only way we become funny, right? Just tragedy! No, not at all.
What does comedy do for you that other mediums just don't?
I’ve always gravitated towards comedy. I grew up in a very funny household. My dad is very funny, he tells great jokes, and he’s a great storyteller. He’s always been a huge lover of comedy, so from the time I was a little kid I was watching old reruns of Carol Burnett and old episodes of Saturday Night Live. I grew up on sitcoms and sketch comedy and loved them.
As I’ve gotten older, and especially working at the show with this job, I think comedy has a unique ability to unify people and start conversations that you might not otherwise have. Not to put too much importance on it. It’s still comedy and we want people to laugh and be entertained and that’s what we’re going for. But I think it has a really beautiful unifying effect that you might not be able to have otherwise if you’re having just a very earnest, straight, emotional conversation about something.
You exude confidence on and off camera. Where does the confidence come from to go after some of the big things that you’ve done in your life?
Oh, just sheer ignorance!
I grew up in Kentucky, I left home when I was 19 years old, I was in theater camp for a few years at this performing arts school and I just loved it. When you grow up in Kentucky you don't think logically, "Oh, I'm going to have a career as an actress." That's not really a logical dream to have, but I just kept gravitating towards it. And for whatever reasons my parents fully supported it. Maybe they just wanted me out of the house. I might have been too much trouble. Or they thought, "Well, this one's not going to amount to anything else, so you know what, the hell with it, just go for it!"
How important was family support in pursuing your career?
Very. My parents were extremely supportive and we packed up the U-Haul and moved out to Los Angeles, and I just started pursuing it. I threw myself into improv camp, waited tables for 10 years, and went for it. I think it was just a gut feeling. Then in terms of confidence in comedy in general, and anything having to do with the show, even though technically we’re correspondents playing ourselves, I always have to look at it through character.
Personally, I don’t have that much confidence. But I find characters that are overly confident about things that they really should be ashamed of, which to me is so funny. So, if I’m not feeling all that confident, which happens quite frequently, I try to channel and enter a character.
What’s it like working with Trevor Noah?
Trevor’s great! He creates such a collaborative work environment, which I would like to think is more common than it is, but I don’t know that that’s so. Anyone at the show can pitch an idea. You can be an intern, you can be a production assistant, you can be on the crew. It doesn’t matter, anyone can pitch an idea and the best idea wins. And that has been the process since day one.
He’s really thoughtful. The way that he approaches a topic that can be really emotional and hot-button issues, he always approaches it with a great deal of thought, care, and grace. He’s always clear on his vision but he’s always open to conversation and collaboration. Being a woman on the show and there being so many issues that I might feel passionately about, he has always made it a point to support me and the other women on the show.
Whether I want to talk about Roe v. Wade being overturned or when RBG passed. A lot of us felt like, oh gosh, we want to talk about this. We want to celebrate her legacy. And he was the first one to be like, “Go for it. Go for it.” So yeah, he’s a dream.
Is there a family feel between you and the other correspondents or in the set?
Yes. I remember early on during the election we had this huge promo shoot for the network for election season. And the whole bit was that we were going through this, it was like one of those camps where you have to go through mud and you’re climbing a wall. You basically have to get through it together as a team.
So, we’re shooting all of it and it was probably 95 degrees and we’re literally crawling in the mud. There was mud all over our faces, we were running and it was hot. And everyone from the network was so apologetic. They were like, “We’re so sorry that you guys are having to do this.” We were having the greatest time of our lives because we don’t always get to all be together on set doing something, collaborating together, and we love that.
So any opportunity that we have where we can do a sketch together or a piece. Yeah, at this point Roy Wood, Jr. and Ronny Chieng, and I have been on the show for almost seven years. Michael Kosta has been on for almost that. Dulcé Sloan, too. We’re a tight group, we really are. Especially, when we get to travel together. Yes, it’s a very communal feel.
Will you go to the Emmys?
I believe so. I don’t want to be presumptuous or get ahead of myself. I think we’re still waiting for details. But yes, I hope so. If not, I’m going to crash it. [She joked].
Do you enjoy getting all gussied up; the hair, the makeup, the fancy dress?
It’s fun. I’m not great at doing it myself, so anytime that I can hire someone whose entire job it is to be really good at that, it’s a total treat. It’s an absolute treat of course. I love it.
You were in one of my favorite movies, We Bought a Zoo. What do you remember about that?
That was a pinch-me day. The director, Cameron Crowe, is such a lovely man and I was such a huge fan of his work all through the years. So even though it was a small role, having the opportunity to audition for him, I was so nervous. He had this way about him. He was so warm and welcoming and immediately calmed my nerves. He was wonderful. It was a blast being on set, and both Cameron and Matt were extremely kind to me.
I wasn’t on the set for many shoot days, but I remember one day when I got to see the way that he directed everyone, and gave notes to an actor off-camera that would help influence the actor who was on camera. I’d never seen that before. It was such a beautiful kind of collaborative way to give a note.
If we had met at the beginning of your journey and said, “This is what’s going to happen,” what would you have said to me?
I’d be like, “Get out of here! Shut the front door! Get out of here, don’t tease me like that!”
What advice do you have for somebody watching your career and wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Well, I personally waited tables for 10 years, I’ve been in this business for 20 years. I wanted to be on The Daily Show for at least a decade. I was a huge fan. I auditioned for The Daily Show, for this job, two times before I got it. So, nothing happens overnight. If it’s something that you love, find a way to do it.
If you love comedy, find a way to do it. Write it. Get out there. Do your stand-up. These days you can be creating content with your iPhone. For example, Foxsplains is shot-- now granted we have an entire team of brilliant writers, award-nominated writers, but it’s shot on an iPhone with a ring light in my house. So, there’s a lot you can do these days. If you love something, find a way to do it. It’s my belief that success will find you.
What are the fans like? What do they want to know about you?
The thing that I appreciate so much, and this is the best part of this job is when our fans reach out and say, “Hey, thank you so much for doing that piece on the pink tax,” or environmental racism or Foxsplains. “Because I’ve been watching and I’ve been so frustrated at what’s happening and this felt very cathartic for me.” And it's cathartic for all of us too, we count on it.
I’ve never had that before. It’s also very nice if someone comes up and says, “Hey, you made me laugh,” “I love that show that you’re on,” or “I love this movie.” But for someone to actually say, “Thank you for covering this issue, it really meant a lot to me,” that’s really all I can ask for.
You’ve already accomplished quite a bit. What more do you want to tackle?
One of the gifts of having this job is the opportunity to be part of the creative process from beginning to end. We have the chance to get to pitch and write alongside the writers. And sit in the post (production) and help shape a piece and see it all the way to the end.
That part of the process I didn’t realize this coming into this job, but I love all aspects of it. I love the opportunity to write and produce. I’d love to direct one day. Now I have that bug to be involved in other aspects of this. So, I look forward to more of that, expressing creativity in different ways. That being said, I’m also extremely happy with my job.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah airs weekdays on Comedy Central at 11 p.m. ET.