How comedian EJ Marcus nailed the art of observational skits

My Media Diet: We quizzed one of TikTok’s funniest comics about his weird and wonderful internet obsessions.

When comedian EJ Marcus moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles a little over a year ago, he didn’t realise he’d soon find himself sitting on a goldmine of inspiration. There’s quite a cast of characters that walks the streets,” he says with a laugh, Zooming in from the apartment he shares with his partner.

Just as well: observational comedy forms the bedrock of Marcus’ work, which includes stand-up and TikTok skits that manage to nail down a Very Specific type of person, usually in under 60 seconds. From the roommate who thinks everyone’s coming onto them to the family dentist who knows everything about you, no one is off limits, so long as they display the small slivers of human neuroses most of us are prone to.

I obsess over the way people do things,” the 25-year-old continues. I’ve taken numerous writing classes where the assignment would be to sit in a cafe and listen to two people having a conversation. The way that people talk is so weird and fragmented and not what you’d imagine. I love that kind of humanity.” Marcus’ videos are dry, satirical and, crucially, never mean-spirited about their subjects. That’s probably what keeps his near half a million followers on TikTok coming back for more.


I actually think theyre right

♬ original sound - EJ Marcus

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Marcus formally got into comedy at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he studied creative writing. But his knack for making people laugh emerged way before then. Growing up with two older siblings, Marcus was the kind of five-year-old who could hold his own with adults, asking them how their jobs were going and how they were juggling such a busy work schedule. He also learned that providing a bit of comedic relief is a sure-fire way to win people over.

My dad said I should tell this story in this interview and I wasn’t going to, but here we are,” he says, introducing an illustrative, parent-approved anecdote. One time, my family was fighting and everyone was mad at each other. I had this big cardboard box and I cut the front out of it to make it into a TV. Then I handed my dad a remote – you could mute me, turn the channels, turn the volume up and down. I got so much positive affirmation from that and figured: OK, I should figure out a way to keep this going.’”

A couple of decades later, Marcus found his stride doing stand-up in his final year at university. I stopped doing my homework and only got into that,” he says. That was the moment when I realised comedy was worth pursuing in a real way.” Our FYP’s are all the better for it.

The last article I found myself thinking about was…

I read an interview with Gwen Stefani in Allure magazine. It was circling back to her career in the mid-2000s, when she released those Harajuku perfumes. At the time, she made a statement that she felt Japanese”. The [Allure] interview came out like a month ago and she said she still feels that way. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I can’t believe she doubled down on that. It’s so wild.

The last new artist I discovered on Spotify was…

I am obsessed with Ethel Cain. So good! I love her.


The last podcast I spent hours listening to was…

I am obsessed with the podcast Vibe Check. It’s hosted by Sam Sanders, Saeed Jones and Zach Stafford. They’re the cutest three best friends and they basically talk about the news and what’s been going on recently. I so often think about conversations I have with my own friends about the news – they’re great, but no one would want to listen to them. These three make it very easy to laugh and feel like I’m talking to friends, laughing along like, you guys are so silly!”

The last picture I liked on Instagram was…

A picture of KaMillion. I love her. She had this little chihuahua and posted a couple of pictures of herself with it. It had huge eyes and she’s holding it like a little baby. I’m also loving this vibe I’ve noticed on Instagram lately where random people are just posting life updates, like pictures of them in bed, some nice thing they ate, or a crying selfie.

The last TikTok I sent to a friend was…

This video by @dimsim9. The person is on a beach and the caption is like, Me realising why this beach is empty.” I’ve watched it a million times. You can tell the monkey in the video owns that beach. I’m big on animal content – I like to keep my TiKTok FYP as far away from the comedy world as possible.

The last series I binged (or watched a lot of) was…

I’m really into Barry. It’s so good and I love Bill Hader. A lot of it has to do with an acting class in LA. It’s so perfectly done. There are so many elements in the series that are so far from my life, but the acting class sort of surpasses all reality.

The last book I stayed awake reading was…

I love the writer Joanne Beard. I was introduced to her through her essays. I’m reading her first novel right now, In Zanesville. It feels really summery and it’s all about these kids riding bikes, discovering stray kittens, trying to feed them… She’s awesome.

The last new word I learned was…

Compersion”, which is the opposite of jealousy. I’m not polyamorous but I’m surrounded by people who are, so being filled with compersion is like, I’m so happy for you that you’re having these other experiences!”

The last meme that made me laugh aloud was…

This might be a deep cut, but for anyone reading who has a Prius, maybe they’ll identify with it. I saw this photograph of a bumper sticker that says, If you steal my catalytic converter, I will kill myself.” On certain cars, specifically older models of Toyota Prius, they’re really easy to steal and also really expensive. I have a 2013 Toyota Prius and I need that sticker.

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