Civics

7th Annual GiRL FeST Hawaii
Yi’s talents blur the lines.
Image: Leigh Righton

GiRL FeST talk with Yi

The Paper Heart star headlines GiRL FeST Hawai‘i
Comes with video

Dated

Thu, Nov 13

7th Annual GiRL FeST Hawaii / Kathy Xian’s 7th Annual GiRL FeST Hawaii begins this week and the lineup for the multimedia art festival and conference to prevent violence against women and girls through education and art is awe-inspiring.

There will be the island premiere of the film Salt of This Sea, a drama about a Palestinian woman in Brooklyn who travels to her home country. Bands Against Violence will include Black Square, Hell Caminos, Dirty Genes, T. Miller and Nickie P. There’ll also be a roller derby and an opening night bash at The Venue at Bambu Two.

Headlining GiRL FeST will be Charlyne Yi, best known as stoner girlfriend “Jodi” in Knocked Up. The Weekly talked with the comedian, musician and documentary filmmaker about the simple things in life like Tchaikovsky, magic tricks and babysitting some kid named Michael Cera.


Hey, Charlyne. You ready to deconstruct some comedy?

Oh, man. Noooo.

You’re so talented, I really don’t know where to begin. Let’s start with your music. Is that a serious ambition or a hobby?

I actually have a guitar in my hands as we speak, so yeah, I’m pretty serious about it. I was always doing music before I started comedy, but back then my hearing was going bad, so I stopped playing and then recently I was like, “Oh, I should just wear an earplug.” Problem solved.

Is there anything you’re particularly obsessed with at the moment, within your own music or anyone else’s?

Well, I’m meeting my friend today ’cause I’m trying to start a new band, like something “country-tribal.” You know, kind of country, kind of tribal? Actually, that doesn’t make sense. Does that mean a lot of crazy drums or something? As for other music, my friends usually show me what to listen to. Honestly, I have a few songs I’ve listened to since I was born. Like my favorite album of all time is The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky.

Let’s talk about the 7th Annual GiRL FeST Hawaii. What will you be doing there?

I’m going to do a little bit of music and storytelling. People always see me as a comedian, but I don’t even know if I am a comedian because I don’t tell, like, zingers. But if I do tell jokes, they’re bad on purpose. If any jokes happen, they’ll be obnoxiously gross and “Ha! Ha! Ha!” stuff. I’ll tell silly stories, play silly songs, maybe some sincere songs. It’s more a variety type show.

When’d you become so funny?

I really don’t know if I am. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I think when I first started performing it was some stand-up amateur night. I was working at a magic stand kiosk at the mall, so I thought, “Hey, I’ll do magic!” except all the magic didn’t work. Then I went to grab the microphone and lift it out of its socket thing, and the mic hit me in the face and people started to laugh because it made them uncomfortable. That kind of became my thing.

And your stand-up is very audience interactive. You’ll bring people on stage to do improvised bits. Are you planning on doing that at GiRL FeST?

It’s whatever I feel in the moment because sometimes I feel unsafe on stage, like if the audience hates me. I was performing in Scotland and one day, just no one was laughing and I wasn’t doing anything different from the shows before and I can just feel myself dying inside. And I’m not angry or upset at the audience for not “getting it.” It’s like, “No, I feel so sorry for inflicting pain on you,” so I doubted myself after that. Then the show the next day was like, amazing.

Do you feel like a role model for young women?

I don’t think people really have role models. We should be allowed to make mistakes. The whole concept of having an idol seems a bit…disgusting. Why need a celebrity to look up to when you should have your own common sense? Just be good. Just try to do what’s right inside your heart. I hope I’m not a role model.

What do you think it means to be a “girl” in 2010?

I don’t know. I’m constantly unaware of it ’cause most of my friends are guys, so I always forget I’m a girl. I don’t know if there’s a difference between guys and girls, except for their privates.

I really liked your film Paper Heart. I thought it was fucking adorable. Is that the kind of reaction you were going for?

Yes, I wanted people to call me up and say: [creepy voice] “I thought it was fucking adorable.” [Laughs] Originally [Paper Heart] was going to be a strict documentary because I’m so obsessed with love and love stories. I think people are constantly trying to find love, so I wanted to make it hopeful. [Laughs] Sorry, I feel so girly right now, that’s so gross.

You’re no longer dating Michael Cera, who co-starred in it with you. How has breaking up with someone informed you about love?

Well one thing: We never were dating. And two: I don’t know how things started, but it was partly a joke. Considering the film is half-documentary, half-fictional, things about it are all blurred in and of itself so we just went along with it. It went so far, like, I told some magazine that I used to be his babysitter. “I remember holding his hand platonically to help him cross the street to holding his hand now romantically at 33 years old, and thinking to myself, “This is odd.”

Charlyne Yi & Friends, Fresh Cafe, 831 Queen Street, Sat., 11/13, 7:30pm, $7-$10

GiRL FeST Hawaii runs 11/10-14. For event info check [girlfesthawaii.org].