James Koroni (he/they) is a queer Iranian American comedian, actor, writer, dancer & filmmaker who has performed at places like BAM, The Joyce Theater, and Guggenheim as well as worked with Pharrell, Madonna, Liza Koshy, MTV, and GIPHY. Koroni can be seen in the forthcoming feature film One Week in Heaven and is very excited to share all the Clips and GIFs he created for GIPHY!
Keep reading for Q&A with James about his work and projects with GIPHY Studios’ Creators Club!
Tell us a little about your Creators Club project.
For my Creators Club project I chose concepts that are both near and dear to my heart. My Farsi Clips and GIFs are a love letter to my heritage and all Iranian people living in Iran and throughout the Iranian Diaspora. My Keppy Clips and GIFs are all sass, named after my adorable cat who is a sweetheart in real life, so the sass is likely all me and perhaps I’m projecting it on my adorable animal friend. Enjoy!
What are three words you would use to describe your creative style?
Awkward, Animated, Satirical.
What has been a recent source of inspiration for you?
Most recently my comedy has been inspired by awkward social interactions at work, politics, my anxiety, Queerness, Persian culture and language, and social justice.
For example, my father was an Iranian immigrant. He never taught me Farsi before he passed away so as an adult I’ve committed myself to learning Farsi and reconnecting with what I’d lost with his passing. While studying the language, I noticed that some Farsi words sound like English words. So, I’ve been making short comedic videos based on the meaning of the Farsi word and the English word(s) that it sounds like and then I end each video with me shakin’ my butt.
One video I made is around the word HAVAPEIMA, which means AIRPLANE in Farsi, but it kinda sounds like “Have to pay more” so I wrote a punny joke that went like this: “You want first class on this Airplane? You’re gonna HAVAPEIMA (have to pay more)!” It’s been fun to create these because people that are also trying to learn Farsi have gravitated to them saying it’s been a great way for them to remember the words. I’d like to think most people are watching them to learn Farsi but I think some might be tuning in for the butt shaking. Either way, through comedy I’ve introduced people to a beautiful language and culture that is often demonized in the west.
What are a few examples of your work you are most proud of or have been your favorite to create?
Long story short I was raised by a Mormon mom and a Iranian immigrant father. I was outed at my dad’s funeral by a family member so I ran quickly from my childhood. I was on my own from then on. It took me a long time to get back on my feet, but I got there thanks to the queer community, my chosen family, and my husband.
I graduated from The PIT (People’s Improv Theater), UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) and am currently getting a formal education at The New School. I’m proud that I’ve come this far as an Iranian American queer person who once felt like the world crumbled around them. With that education, I’ve created sketches where I play four different characters in one scene. Each character has a unique physicality, ideology, and relationships to one another. I’m proud to say that I do most everything in these sketches: pre-production, filming, acting, wigs, makeup, lighting, green screen work, set design, editing, and other post production like graphics. I’m proud to have these sketches exist as a culmination of all my hard work and perseverance.
A few examples are a scout leader with three rambunctious scouts, a bombastic fashion magazine editor-in-chief and her unruly staff, and a mom who uses cleaning products to absolve herself of the crimes she commits!
What was your favorite part of your Creators Club project? Favorite Clip?
My favorite part of this project has been the opportunity to work closely with the GIPHY team! The pandemic made me feel very isolated in my creative process and it is so wonderful to have people to reflect with each step of the way. It meant the world to me!
My favorite clip is ‘Feed Me!’ which is one of Keppy’s Clips and GIFs. I love how dynamic it is and how much I relate to Keppy’s insatiable appetite!