Do you think people will see Lemon and say, "that's not me"? It's like Get Out in that way, and seems like an important realization for people to have.
Bravo: I agree. First of all, to be remotely in the same sentence as that movie is wonderful, so thank you, deeply, from the bottom of my heart. But yeah, we’ve definitely had some people come out of the movie and be, like, aggressive toward us, about feeling, I don’t know, cheated, or feeling angry, or like some aspect of their personality was being put on display and they feel upset about that. I think some of that has to do with what Brett was talking about: You go to comedy and you expect a certain kind of exchange. "I paid to feel this way, so why are you doing this to me?" But what I hope is what you just said, that you see aspects of Isaac that maybe you relate to, or you go, "Am I doing some of this?" But really you should not see yourself, like, "I am not that, but here’s an exercise in the most extreme version of these feelings."
The film is also not rooted in reality. It’s not naturalistic at all. It’s so absurd, it’s almost surreal. There are elements of it that are dreamlike. We’re playing with time. I’m sort of complimented when people are aggressively mad at us. It means I cut deep. At least you want people to feel something. For people to feel nothing is more upsetting. I guess if there’s rage, that’s cool, because it is cutting into some feeling that maybe a person doesn’t want to engage with. There is something sort of exciting there, but really, it’s not meant to upset. It’s meant to present, and show, this display of the most extreme of this kind of awfulness, like you said.
Lemon takes a satirical razor to the "white guy" comedy, where a schlubby guy. That an area of interest? Do you two plan on continuing subversion in the future?
Bravo: No. We are continuing to work together, but I’d made other short films leading up to Lemon that had these conversations with privilege, and mediocrity, and this feeling of limitation or being limited, or being treated like you are limited. Lemon feels like the end road of that conversation. That’s not to say that in my other work there isn’t engagement with race, and with whiteness, but I think some of the discomfort from this film is -- and I can’t speak to the world -- is that in America, whiteness is treated as the invisible. I think for people of color, white is not invisible. It’s very present. When I walk out of my house, I’m processing whiteness constantly and processing "other" constantly, because of how people treat me or how I navigate space. I’m just aware of myself in a way that I don’t know that Brett has to be. So that will always be a part of my work, but this kind of conversation with "white guy comedy," "flailing comedy," that was our final engagement with that space. For me.
Gelman: The thing I’m writing is sort of like that!
Bravo: But it’s different.
Gelman: It is different. Yeah, we wanted to make a comment on that type of movie, but we wanted to put in real consequences, real emotional, psychological consequences to that type character.
Bravo: I just find that some of those films are interchangeable, and I really don’t want for this to sound like a critique of my contemporaries. I do believe that people work on the thing that is close to them, and that’s fine. I’m not begrudging that. But when I wanted to be working in comedy as well, and I have a particular kind of humor, and I didn’t feel like there was room for me in this space. A lot of my peers were making a certain kind of thing, so this is my effort at that certain kind of thing. This is my feelings as a woman of color projected in this space.
This interview was edited and condensed
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.