Amy Aniobi is a writer whose credits include Silicon Valley, The Michael J. Fox Show, Lisa and Amy, The Slutty Years, and Awkward Black Girl. She’s the bomb diggity and, I think, truly blessed now that she’s been referred to as such on the internet. She likes dancing and baking cookies.
How did you come up with the idea/unorthodox webseries style for Lisa and Amy?
I got the idea after a friend was shocked that I hadn’t seen 12 Years a Slave (still haven’t, sorrryyyyy!!!). I was like “I’m such a bad black person.” So I was talking to my friend Lisa McQuillan — she and I went to grad school together and have been in the same writers’ group for a while — and she admitted she hadn’t seen it either. We were kind of shaming each other, and it got random, like her saying, “at least I’m not a vegetarian,” and I was like, “at least I have fake hair” — as if any of that makes you more or less black. I think the decision to put our slightly scripted nonsense online stemmed from a feeling that, as writers, your scripts often just wind up in a folder on your laptop, because it’s hard to get people to read (lots of people just don’t know how, which is sad). So Lisa, my DP Kalilah Robinson and I decided we wanted to make something we could actually see —and then force friends to watch.
Has writing for Silicon Valley made you get super into apps or become more techy than you previously were?
I’ve been into the tech industry since college. I went to Stanford between two tech booms, and now about 40% of my friends from undergrad are working in tech (the other 60% are questioning the validity of that random statistic). But maybe I know a wee bit more about apps now than I would ordinarily? That said, I still have a last generation iPhone, and I can rarely find anything in my Gmail (a topic of constant grief amongst friends, but I blame Google for that). On the show, I’ve learned that the people in tech and their real stories matter much more than the actual tech. You just get more mileage out of experiences than out of a funny app or weird device. So my personal research for the show mostly has involved catching up with college friends. I’ve gotten to connect with their lives, their work and hear the drama behind the tech they create that we use everyday, or at least when drunk. If anything, writing for Silicon Valley has made me super into free snacks and swag (thanks, Google!).
What was your favorite sitcom or comedy of any kind growing up?
Oof, I watched a TON of television growing up. My brothers and I were total latchkey kids (sorry Mom, sorry Dad) and were oft babysat by Fresh Prince and Full House and re-runs of I Love Lucy and The Jamie Foxx Show and The Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — a lot of stuff. But the show that likely influenced my decision to write was Boy Meets World, because when it started, I literally didn’t understand that it was scripted. I thought some kid named Cory Matthews had people follow him around all day and film his life. I guess I was dumb. I don’t know how I got into college. But when someone finally clued me in and told me he was played by an actor, my mind exploded. I was like, “So he didn’t come up with all those jokes?” (Oooh, burn!) That was probably when I started to think writing was cool. Now, I later learned that quoting your “poetry journal” to friends in class was INCREDIBLY UNCOOL, but by then I was too into writing to care.
Who do you most identify with from Saved by the Bell and why?
Lisa Turtle is my idol forever. She dated the hottest and funniest guy in school and was fashionable to boot. SBTB also was one of the earliest instances I can remember in which I saw someone on TV who was like me (black, spoiled, bossy, not addicted to pills like Jessie Spano), so I loved her. What happened to Lark Voorhies? Like really, where’d she go?
What were your feelings on the Simpsons marathon?
Nothing but joy. FXX gets it. “You don’t win friends with salad.”
As you probably know by now, comedy and women are about the extent of my interests. So why not combine these two things? Comedy Crush will highlight the work of current comedy writers and/or performers in hopes of encouraging a queer lady following so they’ll pander to us for the rest of their careers. Hey, at least I’m trying.