Get your geek on with YouTube’s biggest fangirl

For YouTube‘s biggest fangirl, Kerri Doherty, a recent interview with the stars of Nickelodeon’s ’90s hit The Adventures of Pete and Pete ended in dumplings.

“Nobody tells me to stop talking, and we get into these conversations. Me, Mike [Maronna], and Danny [Tamborelli] went and got dumplings after the interview because I was like, ‘I have so much I want to talk to you guys about,’” Doherty laughed during a phone interview with the Daily Dot. “I just latched on to their existing friendship.”

New York City-based comedian Doherty, who describes herself as “everyone’s #1 fan” is the host of “Geeking Out,” a popular YouTube talk show where Doherty, perhaps in character as a “superfan,” interviews her idols.

For the Web series, Doherty only posts 5-minute versions of her video interviews with celebrities. Usually though, her enthusiasm overflows into the conversation so much that guests end up talking for 30 minutes, an hour, or apparently in this instance, a lunch date. 

Doherty graduated from college in 2005, and moved to New York City. She started “Geeking Out” while working for the Adult Swim blog, and the show is now produced by Official Comedy. It was named one of four top web shows changing comedy by PolicyMic and has racked up more than 1.1 million views.

Doherty has a booker, but for the more old-school treasures, she often books them herself. For instance, she met former Nickelodeon host Mark Summers at a late night magic show and booked him as a guest, and also got Blossom star Jenna Von Oy to star in an HBO Girls parody with her via Twitter.

The Dot interviewed the geek herself about dancing with Matthew Gray Gubler to Boyz II Men, positivity in comedy, freaking out guests with her aggressive fannish tendencies, and the rise of ’80s and ’90s nostalgia.

You seem like a genuine fan of the people you interview. Do you try to be positive in your interviews?

Yeah, I do. I try to interview a lot of people who I am genuinely a fan of. I’ve always heard of the people I interview, and I go all out. I’ll rewatch old episodes of shows and read old interviews with them and try to get the person fresh in my mind so by the time I get to interview the person I’m dying to ask them so many different things. You’re really thinking about the things you want to ask because who knows, this might be the only opportunity you’ll get to talk to these people.

What’s been your favorite video to make?

“30 Rock Day” was amazing. Tina Fey is one of my comedy idols, and having her high-five me and hug me, that was huge. We only talked to her for a few minutes, and there were so many things I wanted to say to her but I didn’t think we were going to meet her, or anyone—I really didn’t—so when we did, I just stared at the top of her head and said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you so much.” That’s all I said! Mark was definitely chatting with her about the process and how she wrote her book, and he was just very articulate and smart about it. He knew, “We have a minute with Tina Fey; let’s make the most of it. I was just like, “Thank you, thank you, your hair is so pretty.” I was like, “She’s going to think I’m an idiot.”

What about interviews?

My favorite interview was probably the first one I did, which was with Matthew Gray Gubler from Criminal Minds on CBS. I shot that one on my own and used that to get my show that I have now. I shot it on spec, and I started pitching it around. But with Matthew, that episode was loosely scripted, we improvised, and we had beats. 

I got him to dance with me while I’m wearing a prom dress. I’m really into scripted comedy, so I liked having all the control on that one. Plus he was really funny, and dancing with him in a prom dress is actually something I’d dreamed about before I’d met him, so being able to make that specific dream come true was really fun.

Is the Kerri we see a caricature of a fan or a “character” or is it you?

It’s weird. It’s sort of a heightened version of me most of the time. It’s something we’ve played with a lot. In earlier episodes, it was definitely a heightened version of me, more aggressive and crazy, but I think now I’ve sort of toned down and now that people know who I am, and know what the show is, I give the people I interview the space to tell these great stories instead of me just being really aggressive at them.

We’re trying to find a nice balance, but a lot of it really is me being super excited and wanting to ask weird questions. 

Were you ever involved personally in online fandom? Like LiveJournal or fanfiction communities?

Not really. I’m a fan in general. I talk about things incessantly until my parents and friends are like, “Okay okay, enough already.”

I’ve been a storyteller in the storytelling community in New York City for a couple years now, and I’ve had a few stories that are about how I was obsessed with so-and-so and here’s a crazy story about how I met them on the train one day. I’ve had some superfan stories. 

The whole idea for “Geeking Out” came about because I was freelancing for Adult Swim’s blog and I had pitched the editor an interview series where I would write these interviews with people I’m a super big fan of and ask these questions that only their biggest fans would ask, information that hasn’t been elsewhere published. But then I thought, if it’s a written interview I may only get phone calls or emails, so I thought I should pitch this as a video series so I can be in a room with them.

The goal was to pitch it to Adult Swim or Turner Broadcasting and have it up on their blog or with them in some way. I went out to L.A. and got the interview with Matthew Gray Gubler, which was amazing because he didn’t know me and I had no examples of the show to show him, so he took a blind leap of faith in doing it. I made the episode, [but] then while I was editing it with my friend, Adult Swim cancelled their blog. I just had this show I’d made. I’d heard of, at the time, all of these YouTube partnerships—this was about a year and a half ago and I emailed these companies with the episodes and one of the first ones to reply was Bedrocket Media who runs Official Comedy and I went in and had a meeting with them and they were like, “Yeah, let’s do this as a show!” It’s just kind of grown from there.

Do you ever freak out the celebrity guests with your enthusiasm?

They’ve usually seen a video before, or when they sit down, I say, “You know what this is, right?” The guests have had fun doing it, I think. If somebody’s on a press tour talking about the same stuff over and over again, this gives them the opportunity to talk about something else.

I definitely do my homework; I do my research; I make sure I know this person front and back so I can come up with what I think are the most fun questions. I look at old interviews to see what they’ve been asked, so I can ask maybe what they haven’t been asked for.

Fandom in comedy is popular right now. You see it on Jimmy Fallon’s show where he acts like everyone’s biggest fan, or on MTV’s Nikki & Sara where they freak out over Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé. Is that your natural style?

Oh yeah, definitely. I’m not in the habit of picking on people or making fun of people. Even celebrities who won’t read a tweet that I wrote. The only time I did something mean was I make videos with other comedians sometimes and I did a video making fun of Justin Bieber’s fashion, and I felt so bad. Even though he’s been doing some crazy things lately, and he’s got so many other things to worry about. He won’t care and he won’t see it, but I really felt bad. It’s in my nature to be kind. Some comedians can make mean jokes about celebrities and it’s funny, but I just can’t. 

How well do your ’80s and ’90s nostalgia videos do?

Those are my favorite. I’m at this age where I’m feeling very nostalgic for my teenage years. I think that happens when you get into your late 20s: You start appreciating and really missing your childhood and the things that we loved. One of my favorite videos I made, I covered this event for a book release called Slime: The Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Years, and it was this giant event at 92Y in the city full of Nickelodeon stars, and I walked around and interviewed them all night. 

I was dressed up as Clarissa. I was in heaven. 

Were other reporters dressed up?

No, just me. And my friend Dave dressed up as Sam from Clarissa and carried around a 5-foot ladder. He would just put the ladder down and I’d go, “Hi, Sam.”

How do you respond when mean commenters compare you to the ever-annoying Fake Nerd Girl meme?

Honestly, I think if I didn’t have glasses then people wouldn’t even say that. Years ago, I got these big Eugene Levy in Waiting for Guffman glasses, big and black, and people associate that with hipster. 

Anyone who tries to call me out on not being a fan of something, I’m just like: “Okay, you don’t think I’m a fan of it. That’s fine with me. I’m going to go about my day and my life.” For fandom videos, as long as you’re being genuine, who gives a shit what anyone else thinks? 

I only nerd out about things I genuinely love. I don’t watch Doctor Who, so I wouldn’t make a video about it.

If I see a video and I love it, I never think to put a comment there like, “This is awesome!” When somebody has something mean to say and they can do it anonymously, they’re way more likely to do it. If you see something cool, we should all take the time to say, “Hey you, what you made is amazing.” We should all start leaving those comments.

•••

Kerri’s Top 5: What the Internet’s Biggest Fangirl Is a Fan Of

1) Diablo Cody

“As a writer, she is one of my idols. There is nothing this woman hasn’t created that I haven’t had a huge lady-boner for. I’d love to work for her someday. She’s amazing and funny and very smart.”

2) The Golden Girls

“I have custom made Golden Girls pillows, all the DVDs, my mom got me a signed framed photo of all the women, I have a necklace and a wallet … To me, that’s a show that will stand the test of time.”

3) Comedy

“Very vague but I love stand-up, sketch shows like Kids in the Hall, SNL, Monty Python. In 11th grade, I skipped an English final to go see the Kids in the Hall reunion show in Boston.”

4) Spaghetti

“My mom’s side is Italian, so I love pasta. Any new spaghetti dish, I want to try it. I’m Irish-Italian so food and booze.”

5) Ingrid Michaelson

“She’s an amazing singer/songwriter. So beautiful and talented. I saw her perform at the Bowery Ballroom in 2006, and I’ve just been such a huge fan of her music since then. She lives in Brooklyn and I’ve seen her on the train. Her cover of “Creep” is one of the most haunting things I’ve ever heard, so maybe she’ll stumble upon this interview and want to do my show. She loves The Golden Girls. I’m sure she loves spaghetti. Come on my show and sing the Golden Girls theme song with me. I play the ukulele and I promise it will be nothing short of amazing. I will bake cupcakes!”

Photo via Kerri Doherty

Gaby Dunn

Gaby Dunn

Gaby Dunn is an actress, comedian, and blogger who covered YouTube for the Daily Dot. Since 2016, she’s hosted the podcast ‘Bad with Money,’ and operates a successful YouTube channel. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Vice, and Salon.