Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
November 29, 2022

The comedian Billy Eichner has been one of my favorite people in Hollywood recently.

About a year ago I stumbled upon one of his videos on YouTube entitled, “It's Debra Messing, You Gays.” In the clip, Billy, a man in a plain blue shirt holding a mic with a wire, ran around a street in New York City with Debra Messing, yelling at people he saw, calling them gay, and showing them that the gay icon was with him. I thought it was hilarious.

I texted my friend about it, and she told me to check out “It's Spock, Do You Care?” which is a similar clip where Billy runs around with Zachary Quinto to see people's reaction to the star. Turns out that not many people cared.

This started me on a quest to consume everything that mentioned Billy. I still can't get enough of him. The clips were from his show, Billy on the Street, which just premiered its third season on Fuse. During the show, he often asks subjective, hilarious questions about celebrities, like, “Would you trust your children with Katharine McPhee?” or just statements about movies he was excited about, like Sex and the City 2 (“Miss Cynthia Nixon's on a camel!!”). He bombards New Yorkers on the street, and their reactions are really what make the show. In fact, I'm often surprised that anyone gives him the time of day. There is always a montage of surprised people, frightened by his yelling, and people angry that he would bother them.

I love his success story: he started out by posting ridiculous YouTube videos of himself quizzing people on the streets of New York. Billy himself is a native to the city; he’s from Forest Hills, Queens, and went to my rival high school, Stuyvesant. This gives him a right to attack unassuming New Yorkers because he understands the norms of a typical city resident trying to mind his own business.

The earlier seasons of his show featured him asking more quiz-like questions rather than subjective questions, but he still made his opinions known. When it got popular, it was picked up by Funny or Die, and now Fuse. The format of the show now suits him so well because the questions in themselves are hilarious. It is obvious that he has a great writing staff.

This season, Billy's audience has grown and the show has more famous people on it, including Paul Rudd, Neil Patrick Harris, and Lena Dunham.  In previous seasons, he had Rashida Jones and Rachel Dratch.  He recently was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, during which he took his shtick into the audience.   But he is not new to the talk show scene – he has been on, to name just a few shows, The Wendy Williams, The View, and Conan, where he filmed himself going to meet Madonna while she practiced for her concert at Yankee Stadium.  He loves Madonna and Meryl Streep, but hates Rachael Ray.

In this way, he is just like us; very excitable, with strict, unchanging, hilarious opinions on what he likes or doesn't like in the entertainment industry today.

In between seasons, Billy has been a recurring character on Parks and Recreation on NBC. He plays Crazy Craig, someone from the rival town who started working in the Parks department. His character also yells a lot, but mostly just has a lot of feelings.

Billy is also one of the most hilarious comedians on Twitter. You have to read his live-tweets during award ceremonies, because he is definitely on point.

It is great to see Billy genuinely have fun while he tries, and often fails, to ruffle the feathers of all who come in the way of his comedy.

 

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