Jessie Komitor’s new web series, People of New York, is a satire on the popular blog Humans of New York. Komitor has created five distinct characters, including Bronx teenager Joey, Upper West Side socialite Lauryn, overbearing Westchester Jewish mom Nancy and British Brooklyn hipster Victory, all artfully skewering the different facets of the city — and all embodied by the NYU grad who has also been seen on"30 Rock" and the Hulu series "Deadbeat."
Season 1 just went live with Joey and Lauryn’s episodes, and new characters —including Joan, an immersive theatre artist — debut every two weeks. We caught up with Komitor to talk about the people of "People of New York."
How did you create the characters?
I was asked to do an audition of seven different characters, and I had never done this before. “Joey” was a direct extension of myself. I go to Tompkins Square Park and watch the dogs. The other characters come from watching how people are, hearing people on the street. The humor comes from truth. One person will watch the series and go, “OMG! I know Lauryn!” or “I am Nancy!”
People of New York uses the “mock documentary” approach in each episode. Why did you choose that device in this saturated era of reality TV?
I love it when you see how someone tries to present themselves vs. what the camera is actually capturing. That’s funnier. You can see someone’s eye wandering, which tells you so much about a person — it’s a glimpse of their insecurity. The satire comes from how they don’t see themselves fully. This approach is the best way to reflect a person. I’ve been inspired by Christopher Guest and The Office.
Can you discuss how you dressed each person? The clothes really inform the characters.
Once I put Lauryn’s eyelashes on, I realized how weighted down she is by them. I felt her lip injections and face lift. These things — the too tight dress and heels that are too high to walk in — informed what she said and did.
Let’s have you step into each character. How would the characters of "People of New York" react if they saw themselves on "People of New York"?
He doesn’t want his big heart out there. He would be like, “OMG, you can’t show that to my boys. It’s cool, but it’s between you and I. Don’t show Mike. A’right?”
She’s checked out. She would stare at the screen, not listening to a word she was saying, and ask, “Did you see a fly away in my hair?”
She'd get phone calls that she was seen on TV. She’d be like, “Oh yeah, you saw it? I know! Isn’t it amazing?! They were in my house for a week! They brought and left 10 pounds of water. I have all this free water now.”
She would be silently screaming with joy, but on the outside she would be cool as a cucumber. “Think that maybe Coachella would fly us out after they saw this? I think they might!”
Check out People of New York for more.