Making the rounds on this thing called the internet is a hilarious video in which New York City-based actress Melissa Aquiles parodies Queer Eye’s Fab Five in a sketch comedy bit. Four of the five have shared the Queer Eye parody on their social media accounts, garnering the video over a half-million views in just four days.
The Queer Eye parody video finds Aquiles pretending to be each of the Fab Five. Her mission is to makeover her boyfriend, who doesn’t seem too keen on the help being offered. Things get especially complicated by the end, when she tries to step into the shoes of Karamo Brown by donning a bald cap. The concept is genius and her performances are good. Really good.
The very end was cut off. I’m just standing by the door. pic.twitter.com/UUu8TNUC8L
— Melissa Aquiles (@MelissaAquiles) March 16, 2018
We caught up with the actress, who is a performer and writer at New York’s The People’s Improv Theater. She discusses with us what inspired her to create the Queer Eye parody video and what she thinks about the complicated issue of inclusion and diversity in comedy.
HORNET: What initially inspired you to parody the Fab Five?
MELISSA AQUILES: I just loved the show so much! I do characters and write sketches, and originally I was working on just a Jonathan impression to start performing live. Then I thought it would be way more challenging and rewarding to write a sketch where I get to play them all.
What did your boyfriend think of the idea? Is he a performer, too?
He’s a performer as well, and we write and produce sketches together under “Jack and Melissa Comedy.” We help each other with our work — writing, shooting, whatever it is. If we’re both in it, usually our friend Eric will shoot us. But he was on board from the beginning. He loves the show, too, and we felt like there wasn’t enough content out there celebrating it.
Neither of us expected to be so emotionally moved and into the show. I mean, I watched the original and loved it, but I was also younger at the time. As for the premise [of our video], it’s not so much that I think he needs a makeover (I don’t!), it was just a fun and easy premise for me to justifiably play all five of them.
How many of the Fab Five have seen the video thus far?
Karamo was the first to retweet it. Then Bobby. Then Antoni. The show account retweeted it also, and then the exec producers saw it. Then it built up steam. It wasn’t until Sunday night that Jonathan saw it and retweeted it. He also put a link to the video in his Instagram stories.
Bobby, Karamo and Jonathan all followed me on Twitter, and Karamo sent me a private message saying he enjoyed it and thanked us for making it. I think Tan is the only one who hasn’t seen it — or at least he didn’t reply. At least not directly!
Which Fab Five member was the hardest to play?
I think Bobby and Antoni, because they’re more subtle, even on the show. So I had to find the essence of how they act when they work to play from.
There’s been a lot of conversation about a lack of diversity on SNL lately — particularly a lack of queer representation. What have your experiences been in the comedy world when it comes to your identify and opportunity?
Being a woman in comedy is hard. I mean, it’s getting better, but it’s still really hard. I feel like women have to live up to some arbitrary expectation while men sometimes get to coast on bad material that has nothing to offer but shock value. And I am a white woman. So it’s easier for me. I like to think I do have a different perspective in that, as I’m Portuguese. My parents weren’t born here, and I feel diverse in my point of view. But still passing everyday, I am a white woman.
I run [an open mic night] and there are hardly ever any women there, and when there are, a lot of straight white men in the room who just made them listen to their violent jokes about women will suddenly have to leave to get a drink at the bar or whatever. Or they just won’t laugh. Not even to be nice.
What about sketch comedy?
Sketch is more inclusive, I have to say. I never had a problem, besides usually always being outnumbered by men. But I’m on a team now where the women outnumber the guys, and that’s awesome. Also, if I feel underrepresented in sketch, the beauty of it is I always have the ability to produce my own sketches with my friends.
More diversity is better, and we’re getting there, but I think it’s still not enough. I started doing sketch because I never got cast in the plays in college. But for a little while there was mostly straight men on the sketch team (and the school was 75% women) and really no male-identifying LGBTQ person either, which made up another huge demographic there. So yeah, it could always be better.
I’ve kind of been in the mindset that if I ever feel underrepresented or underappreciated, I will always have the ability to create my own opportunities.