Home » Comedian Leo Reich enjoys romantic movies, his new HBO special and his childhood crush on Knuckles the Echidna

Comedian Leo Reich enjoys romantic movies, his new HBO special and his childhood crush on Knuckles the Echidna

by Stewart Cole

If you don’t already know about Leo Reich…. where were you?

We only ask why the British comedian and writer was everywhere Recently. His first hour-long comedy, Leo Reich: Literally Who Cares?! made its official debut at the world-renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and went on to make successful runs at London’s Soho Theater and Off-Broadway in New York, garnering awards, acclaim and adoring fans in the process.

And now, Reich brings Literally Who Cares?! right into your living room—that’s right, the twenty-one comic is the latest to solidify his rising stardom with an HBO comedy special, currently streaming on Max.

Greeted by The New York Times As a wickedly funny “avatar of Gen Z discontent,” Reich’s stage persona is both hilariously self-deprecating and absolutely delusional in the best way. For example, comics like to share that he feels “very lucky to be queer-wise. Psychologically, it’s a nightmare, but it’s very good for my brand.”

Oh, and did we mention she’s a pop star in the making? Reich infuses his comedy with some shockingly catchy original songs that draw influence from all your favorite modern-day divas that will have you laughing along.

In celebration of its premiere Leo Reich: Literally Who Cares?! On HBO this weekend, we invited Reich to sit down with us as the latest guest in our Q&A series, Dishin’ It. In our chat, the comedian tells us all about the horny movie that blew his mind, his incredibly honest list of childhood crushes and why he’ll always go bang for Lorde.

Is there a piece of media – be it a movie, TV series, book, album, theater, video game, etc… – that you consider a big part of your journey or that has played a significant role in your understanding of queerness? Why does it stand out to you?

Gosh, there are actually so many that it’s hard to pick one. What immediately came to mind for some reason—which is perhaps too pretentious to say—is the Mexican film Y Tu Mamá También, which I am still obsessed with to this day. I see it every 10 days. It’s just the homoeroticism that flares through it – as a teenager in an all-boys school, that really blew my mind. I was like, “Yeah, them I am doing they want to argue with each other. Of course! We all want to argue with each other!” It was a very clarifying moment.

Among the great reviews for your show, Literally Who Cares?!The New York Times calls you the “avatar of Gen Z discontent.” What does this mean for you? Do you feel like a product of your generation? What do you think, say, a boomer might assume about Gen Z after seeing yours?

Hopefully, in the special, I poke fun at the idea that it’s possible to be “a voice of a generation” — at any point, but especially now, given the massively conflicting stereotypes and paradoxical position you find yourself in as someone online. All this, I think, makes it impossible to condense the experiences of an entire generation – if that were ever possible.

I hope that’s what happens, until the end of it [the special,] inconsistencies, and contradictory statements, and insane rants, and anxiety, paranoia, and self-obsession accumulate into more disposal rather than necessarily any kind of “political perspective,” any kind of confessional, anecdotal thing about how the specific experiences of being Gen Z.

What I want the audience to feel by the end, I guess, is just a sense of confusion and chaos. And that’s what I feel—when I talk to my friends about, “What’s it like growing up right now?”[the answer is less “Oh, it feels like what we need is this specific set of stuff, or all had this one experience.” It’s much more abstract and existential, like a chaotic angst. And that’s the thing I was really trying to get to by the end of the special

You’re sporting a very specific look for this show, which you joke about being “straight from your dad”s nightmare,” but can you tell us about bringing the outfit together and what you want it to say about the show? Is this an everyday Leo look?

I wish! No, it’s not at all. I guess the makeup and the outfit has a sort of “influencer clown” quality to it, I hope.

The top came from, truly, just me seeing one of the day influencers I follow wearing that on a beach, and I thought it was so funny. Just as an item of clothing, I was like, “What the f*ck is that?” Like, that’s not a real piece of clothing! What really drew me to it is that, literally, the only reason why someone would wear that is to be like, “I AM HOT.” And I thought that was hysterical as an idea—just to wear something that so immediately tells you that the person wearing it thinks they’re f*cking gorgeous, ripped, and incredible. That’s sort of the baseline inspiration for the outfit.

And also, aesthetically, the whole show draws on pop stars, sort of hyperpop-y, slightly futuristic, pop stars were really on the mood board: Charli XCX, Rosalía, Sophie—queer icons, all of them. But it’s that hyper attention to constructed persona and personality, especially in a very futuristic, internet-inspired way.

Since your show features some truly hilarious original pop tunes, we’re curious: Who is your personal #1 pop diva of all time and why?

Wow, you want me killed? You’re going to sick, like, nine different fans of mine with this one

It really changes for me, year to year, but I love Lorde. I’m a big man Lorde. My teenage years were marked by these Lorde albums in a big way. I think I’m her age, maybe? But he really felt like, every time he released an album, he said, “This is what you’re going through right now.” And I said, “Yes, that’s exactly it!” So I’m Lorde stan.

You know, there’s another rising comedy star making a lot of headlines right now for his new special: Matt Rife. If people could only watch one special, yours or his, why would they tune in Literally Who Cares?! Instead?

Because I’m more muscular than him. End of list. That’s the only reason I can think of – whatever else makes me win.

I have to say I don’t know Matt Rife’s work — god bless him. I saw that he has a great jaw. But if you’re going to see one, see mine, I think, because I just hit the gym harder and I can bench press more.

Who is a fictional character you had a crush on when you were younger (or maybe still are!)? What do you remember loving them?

Again, there are so many of them. As a real kid, on a cartoon level, weirdly—and this is the first time I’ve ever said this—t. Joints, the echidna, from Sonic the Hedgehog. Very hot!

Who else? I was at Big Chord Overstreet in Joy fan. I can’t even remember his character’s name, but he might Really remember what his face looks like.

The others? Jess from Gilmore Girls. Incredible. I could go on. Honestly, what I do is try to remember my Google searches for “their name, topless”. And then Chris Evans enters The fantastic four—I know it’s so basic now, but it’s pre-Captain America, when he looks like a normal person. Come, I am a man—I am a man!

You’ve been playing this show for a minute now, taking it from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to Off-Broadway — do you have any stand-up “concert gone wrong” horror stories to share?

Doing the show, the thing that’s always been funny is—because the show is so based on [being] half sincere, half cynical. And that’s kind of how the pacing of the show works: I’ll say something really serious and then end it by saying something really cynical. And what was funny, especially in the States, when I did the run in New York, was that people would come—musical theater people, God bless them, I’m one in a way—they would really just applaud after the honest set-up and then very confused by the cynical punch line.

So I would say, “I think there should be more queer people Island of Love.” Full applause. And I’d be like, “No, no, no…” And I’d feel bad because they’d be like, “Whoa! Representation matters!” And I would say, “Yeah, in a way, but in a way what I’m saying is a more specific, nuanced political point about the limits of this.” That was always funny, crushing people’s very beautiful, sincere desire to be in solidarity with me on stage.

Who is a queer or trans artist/performer/creator that you think is doing really cool work right now? Why are there some we should all look out for?

God, I’m trying to think of one non-queer artists—I don’t think I follow a single one!

I saw a really great show this year by a comedian named John Tothill it was really great, which I loved. And that will be at London’s Soho Theater in January. And it was fantastic, I loved it.

And then, I mean, in the states it’s all the people that I think people will know. Like, I loved it John Early special, blew my mind, and he’s incredible, obviously. And Cole Escola made a western, Our home out west— incredible, I love this. And there are so many more people, but I feel like I’m preaching to the choir, as Queerty readers will have a better on-the-ground sense of the queer comedy scene in America than I do.

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