Liva Pierce, Class of 2022, goes viral with her Twitter spoof of Broadway musicals.
This past August, Liva Pierce, Class of 2022, was at home in Maine, nursing a broken elbow and feeling antsy, when she got an idea for a funny video to post on her Twitter account, @realchoppedliva.
The final product, “when characters in musicals transition from speaking to singing,” is one minute and 18 seconds of pure joy, a romp through the first lines of 10 made-up Broadway musical numbers—all of which one wishes were real—in accents including cockney, bad Australian, and evil stepmother (“And where do you think you’re going, Grizabelle?”).
The video has its roots in a newish internet comedy genre: rapid-fire character bits filmed straight into a smartphone camera. Among its 7.6 million viewers were artists and comedians Pierce loves—Mike Birbiglia, Rachel Bloom, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. A few even sent her direct messages. Pierce, a second-year, describes the experience as “weird,” “nice,” and “crazy.”
Spurred on by her summer of virality, Pierce is continuing to pursue comedy on- and offline, alongside her coursework in creative writing.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
What got you into making Twitter videos?
This year I started seeing way more people doing them, and they were so tight and so clearly easy to make. It’s such a forgiving format. If you can tap into a shell of a thought that a lot of people have had, and then fill that shell with all the different variations of that one thought, it’s easy—it’s just the same joke a bunch of times.
Did you do a lot of musical theater growing up?
Yeah. Starting from when I was around eight or nine, I did theater camp for eight years, and I did some community theater. By the time I got to high school, I was getting really into comedy—Tina Fey and Saturday Night Live. I still loved theater, but I just stopped doing it as much. I also was never that good of a singer.
A lot of people in comedy are former theater kids who can’t sing, or weren’t getting the parts they wanted—bitter former theater kids. Or maybe they were more interesting than the roles they were getting. I think high school theater can be pretty “you’re just doing Oklahoma again and again.”
You do internet comedy and live performances. Do you like one better than the other?
Online is fun, but it takes so much time. There’s the little thrill of seeing someone you admire like your tweet, but I’m really consciously trying to stop looking at who likes something I post. It’s so toxic and it’s hard to resist. So for me, I like performing live a lot more. It’s a lot less mind gamey.
What are you working on now?
In Off-Off Campus, we’re doing sketches right now. So that’s been taking up most of my time. I’m either writing sketches, editing them, or memorizing them.
I’m writing a musical with my Off-Off generation and Greer Baxter [Class of 2020], who’s a really good composer. It’s a parody of High School Musical–type shows. We wrote a love song between two people in a room when the generator gets shut off and the lights go out. They’re in the dark, literally and figuratively, about the way they feel about each other.
It’s really silly. It’s set at a school called Left High School and the big “Stick to the Status Quo” song is “Nothing Is Right at Left High School,” which is so dumb. But it’s so fun to write. I’m really excited for it.
If you could play any part in any musical, what would it be?
I love Éponine; I love “On My Own.” If I could nail that song, I would love to sing it.
Or Jack from Newsies. I randomly love Newsies. We have a joke in Off-Off of always putting Newsies jokes in our shows and no one cares, but we love it.
When I was a kid I loved Annie. So Annie, as an adult, I guess—that would be awesome.
An all-adult production of Annie. I would like that.
Yeah, that’s what everyone’s clamoring for.