The 27-year-old comedian has racked up over a million Instagram followers due to the singular aesthetic and signature sense of humor that he’s cultivated through celebrity impersonations, re-imagined takes on iconic fictional personalities, and beloved characters that he’s created on his own.
For the latest episode of In The Know’s podcast “We Should Talk,” Skinner shared the story of how he’s gotten to where he is now, what it’s like to have celebrities like Lady Gaga and Khloé Kardashian react to his impressions of them and what he plans to do next (in addition to working on a pilot, he also teased a potential “Emily in Paris” spoof).
“It’s all in good fun. I’ve never done anyone that I’m not doing an impression of someone who I don’t watch the work of or respect,” he said of who he chooses to impersonate. “It takes so much time to do an impression that I’m like, ‘I’m not going to sit and watch interviews of someone that I don’t care about.’ Like, clearly you know I watch the ‘[Keeping Up With the] Kardashians.’ I know too much!”
Listen to our full interview with Benito Skinner on “We Should Talk” below, and keep scrolling to read highlights from the episode.
Benito Skinner on getting fired from his day job: “I went to school at Georgetown, and I studied film and English there and, when I graduated, I was making some Dubsmashes doing the Kardashians. Then I worked at this startup, and I hated it and I got fired, so I can say I hated it. I just didn’t care, obviously. I like editing my own videos. It was during that time that I made the ‘Queer Eye’ parody, and I made my first Kardashian snapchat parody. When the internet goes, it goes. It just picked up, I got fired and then I signed to WME that same week.”
Benito Skinner on Lady Gaga reacting to his “Rain On Me” video: “I can never think about it too much or my head will explode. I can’t actually think about Gaga watching that video — like, that is so much for me! I grew up in Boise, Idaho, and I felt like nobody knew what was inside of me. I felt so confined and so small and that no one would ever know what I loved doing and talents that I had, so that freaks me out sometimes. It’s like, ‘That person has now seen this and that person that has so much influence on me and my work has maybe had one joyous minute with me.’ That’s too much. I can’t really think about it too much more than that. It is kind of scary sometimes, because you hope that they know this is going from a place of love.”
Benito Skinner on his approach to #spon and recent collaboration with Captain Morgan Sliced Apple Spiced Rum: “I do pride myself on only doing things that I love the creative on and brands that I respect and that I think want to work with a creator — places that want to hear my ideas and are open to obviously still fitting within my work. I’m not totally PG, and the work is going to be more gay and campy and over-the-top. […] I never want my page to feel like a big commercial, but there needs to be a few ads because I need to pay for the wigs. […] The whole thing [with Captain Morgan] was based around making fun of ‘hashtag ad.’ I liked that from the get, because I think the way things are advertised and the kind of Sim characters that we’ve created online is so weird.”
Benito Skinner on not following the traditional comedy path: “It’s not that I ever didn’t think about those things, but I always want to make sure that what I’m doing is something I feel so good about. What’s great about the internet is that there are so may different ways to do it now, and we can all carve out our own specific path and the career that we want. […] I’ve been lucky in that I get to try all these things on the internet, and it’s allowed me to get on a stage and do some of that stuff live, but now I’m really interested in being a character for longer than a sketch.”
Watch our full interview with Benito Skinner below:
If you enjoyed this interview, check out podcast host Danny Pellegrino’s recent appearance on “We Should Talk.”
More from In The Know: