My Internet: Charlie Bardey
The comedian lets the discourse wash over him.
Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, written by Kate Lindsay and edited by Nick Catucci.
Most weeks, we quiz a “very online” person for their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.
Today we welcome Charlie Bardey, a comedian, writer, and, with Natalie Rotter-Laitman, co-host of the podcast and live show Exploration: LIVE! Vulture just named him and Rotter-Laitman to its list of the 25 Comedians You Should and Will Know in 2023, writing that, “At their best, the two match what the greatest observational comics do: putting words to universal circumstances that their audiences have experienced but never truly noticed before. Their mutual excitement when they hit on something specific, true, and ubiquitous is electric.”
Charlie attends a regular night in which friends share YouTube videos of fabulous diva performances, started reading r/Lexapro and r/Breakup when he started Lexapro and was going through a breakup, and once made a tweet about soup that gets posted daily by Instagram meme pages with names like ImThirtyAF or MomTime. —Nick
Subscribe to Embedded if you agree that soup belongs in soup-shaped (round) Tupperware.
EMBEDDED: What’s a recent meme or post that made you laugh?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I’ve been laughing at these posts from Megan Thee Stallion. Who among us has not had their proverbial Miami trip fall apart?
EMBEDDED: What shows up on your TikTok For You page?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Videos of cats acclimating to new cats in the home; comedy sketches by 24 year olds; out of context scenes from movies or TV dramas I’d never watch; South Park splitscreened with mobile phone games; self-help psychobabble.
EMBEDDED: Do you make TikToks? What format works best for you?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I do occasionally, though I always feel like a bit of a fool for it. I have no patience with editing them, so I do like, videos of me talking as I walk around my apartment. They usually don’t do so well—I haven’t really found a voice on the platform. Unfortunately, the only TikToks of mine that have succeeded are a bit mean spirited—TikToks where I gently rib the video I’ve stitched. I think that happens a lot on Tik Tok, and they do well, but I don’t like to be like that!!
EMBEDDED: Do you still tweet? Why?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Sigh! Yes! I love(d) Twitter! I really found myself in the form. I still like to share thoughts in that way—there’s no other place for them, and I’ve been trained for the last decade to write that kind of joke. I think I’ll maybe be on it forever, like Boomers on Facebook, unless I’m truly forced off. Something kind of nice about Twitter right now is that I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to make Consistently Good Tweets, and now that the cultural centrality of it has eroded, and I got 100,000 followers (which was a totally arbitrary goal I decided to have when I was at like, 93,000) I feel like I can kind of Tweet whatever.
EMBEDDED: Have you found any good alternatives to Twitter?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Sigh. No! Bluesky just didn’t have the sauce for me. My truest alternative to Twitter is my podcast, Exploration: LIVE! where I feel like I can share ideas and be funny in the way I liked to be on Twitter.
EMBEDDED: What do you use Instagram for?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Promoting my shows and my self. My real favorite way to use instagram is to be silly in my stories and get likes from cute boys. Score!
EMBEDDED: What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Clips from animated shows (Family Guy, The Simpsons, American Dad, Bob’s Burgers); Unintentional ASMR (I love this channel Knight Times which compiles like really relaxing medical instruction videos. Here’s another iconic unintentional ASMR, from a cranial nerve exam demonstration. And here’s another, from a Kiehl’s hand massage demonstration); corny videos about improving your life; massage/spa videos, like from this woman Lita. I’m looking to branch out into more interesting longer-form content. I want good video essays, but I often find them inane and corny. Send me recs!
EMBEDDED: Where do you tend to get your news?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Twitter…. :/
EMBEDDED: How do you keep up with the online discourse? How important is it to you to do this?
CHARLIE BARDEY: God. It’s so exhausting! I keep up because you do so inevitably by just being on Twitter, but it’s so the least interesting part of it. I can’t get invested; I’ve been on Twitter long enough that I’ve seen the same discursive cycles like five times over. I think I’ve learned from it, a bit, and you can learn how to think through it, but I’m shocked at how invested people can get in these arguments, which so clearly accomplish nothing. If you want to argue and you like it, fine, but so often people seem so run down by participating that it seems that they feel it’s mandatory. The only way to stay sane online is to let discourse wash over you.
EMBEDDED: Where do you usually discover or learn about online trends?
CHARLIE BARDEY: On Twitter and TikTok. Usually hearing about it or seeing it firsthand.
EMBEDDED: How do you find recommendations for what to watch, read, and listen to?
CHARLIE BARDEY: God, where DON’T you find recommendations. I can’t HELP getting recommendations. I have more media to consume than I could handle in ten thousand lifetimes. People are always like “I’m reading this book it’s so good” and I’m like “omg that sounds amazing!” and then I write it down. And that happens like eight times during the time it takes me to finish one book. The math isn’t in my favor here.
EMBEDDED: What’s something that you have observed about the online behavior of Gen Z, Millennials, and/or Boomers?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I don’t really like generation discourse so much. I just think it’s oversaturated. No offense! Seriously all love. Not mad at you for asking.
EMBEDDED: If you could create your own social media platform, what would it be like?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I hope I never have to do this. This is not my skill set. I don’t have an imagination for this kind of thing. I’m so sorry I wish I could help but I have to draw the line. I don’t want this responsibility or this job.
EMBEDDED: What are your favorite Substack or other independent newsletters?
’s newsletter and ’s newsletter! I subscribe to Haley’s because I love her “15 Things I Consumed This Week” feature. Oh, ’s Lots Of Links is amazing!! She finds stuff on the internet that is actually fun and unique, and harkens back to a time where you could spend time ~online~, not just on social sites.
CHARLIE BARDEY: I like
EMBEDDED: Do you have any favorite media company newsletters?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Ummmmm. Can I think for a second? I feel like I have an answer. No I’m sorry, I can’t.
EMBEDDED: What’s one positive media trend? What’s one negative trend?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Negative media trend: People are truly so casually mean to each other! And needlessly. Like chill out!
Positive media trend: Democratization of access? Sorry that’s a little broad. I am sure I have a better answer, and will think of it two days after this newsletter comes out.
EMBEDDED: Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I feel like my taste in Podcasts is boring. I don’t listen much, and when I do it’s This American Life or Song Exploder. I just haven’t found many that hit for me! And I’m always looking!
EMBEDDED: Have you had posts go viral? What is that experience like?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Yeahhhhhhh, well, not to be a huge bitch but I’ve gone viral a bunch. Almost exclusively on Twitter. What is there to say about the experience? I don’t read the responses, mostly, because it’ll just drive you crazy. Most of my stuff is like truly anodyne observational comedy, but sometimes people still get angry, but I don’t read it so I don’t know or care. It’s funny cuz there will be like, hundreds of angry or snarky quote tweets or whatever, and it feels like people are yelling at me while I dance in noise cancelling headphones. The wider net you cast the more outside of your audience your posts get, which can lead to some pretty inane responses.
My viral Tweets have a crazy half life on like, Instagram meme pages, where my mom will see them and send them to me. It’s funny to watch the like, quality of a screenshot degrade, and to have made a digital object that becomes less and less affiliated to you as a person. This one about soup gets posted daily by pages called, like, ImThirtyAF or MomTime. It’s cool, ultimately! I like when I can make something that a lot of people connect with. I like being pithy and saying something in an effective and surprising and funny way. There’s a general dynamic where the posts that get biggest are like, the broadest, observational comedy, but I stand by that! Stuff like this, or this, or this, or this, or this:
EMBEDDED: Who’s the coolest person who follows you?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Omg I don’t know! I don’t want to insult anyone. Jaboukie followed me a few years ago and that really stood out. Miranda July just followed my podcast’s Instagram account. I feel like something that happens a lot is there are more niche accounts I really love who will follow me back and I think that’s so sick.
EMBEDDED: Who’s someone more people should follow?
CHARLIE BARDEY: God this is so much pressure too! This is one of those questions that you have a million answers to but then when the time comes I draw a blank. I always recommend @pangmeli on Twitter, who I think is just brilliant, and uses the platform in such a cool way. My friend @richard_perez on Instagram, who makes me laugh so much.
EMBEDDED: Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Do you miss it?
CHARLIE BARDEY: In college! I liked that it was a platform for me to be funny on my Snapchat story. Now I use Instagram for that. It’s surprising to me that young people still use Snapchat. Life surprises me every day.
EMBEDDED: When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I find Pinterest unintuitive to navigate. You have to be logged in to really get in there. Sorry but That’s Not Me.
EMBEDDED: Do you have a take on Tumblr?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I loved it for porn! I never was so in the trenches with it otherwise. Seems like a ton was happening there that really influenced discourse and internet culture for years to come.
EMBEDDED: Are you in any groups on Reddit, Discord, Slack, or Facebook? What’s the most useful or entertaining one?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I follow a few Reddits. When I was starting Lexapro and going through a breakup I started reading r/Lexapro and r/Breakup and they were both seriously grim. I used to be sooooo into Reddit when I was in high school, but it was a little too straight and male for me, ultimately. I think I could get really into it again if I invested, but, of course, I’m busy.
EMBEDDED: How has using LinkedIn benefitted you, if at all?
CHARLIE BARDEY: LinkedIn has only ever hurt me. I used to have one, and one time someone pulled it up at a comedy show and roasted me for it. I’m so grateful I don’t have to have it. I actually all the time consider my gratitude that my career does not necessitate me having a LinkedIn account.
EMBEDDED: Do you use Slack or another chat tool for work? What’s the best thing about Slacking with your co-workers? What’s the worst thing?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I’ve only ever worked in an office for a year, and they didn’t use Slack. It’s a big experience of modern white collar work that I really don’t know at all! I bet I’d have fun. I’m sure I’d love to make little jokes on Slack. I’d love to gossip with my coworkers on an instant messenger platform. I think it’d really work for me.
EMBEDDED: Do you typically start searches on Google, Reddit, TikTok, or another source? Have you tried AI-powered search on Bing or elsewhere?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I usually Google my problem, and, if I remember, append “Reddit” to the end of it.
EMBEDDED: What most excites you about AI chatbots and text and art generators? What most concerns you?
CHARLIE BARDEY: There are so many people with smarter things to say on AI than me, but my instinct is to be wary of it. I don’t like that it mimics humans and can sometimes be indistinguishable. Seems bad!
EMBEDDED: Are you currently playing any console, computer, or phone games?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Chess! And what else? I have a Switch and I play Smash on it, which I love. I started Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom but put it down until the winter, which is now so I’m going to pick it back up. I was playing Elden Ring but then my roommate moved out and took the PS4. Life can be so challenging.
EMBEDDED: What’s your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I like the Woman Playing Handball emoji. God she’s just giving it her all isn’t she! Look at her fly. I aim to be like her.
EMBEDDED: Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I LOVE doing voice notes. The voice is so much more information dense. I love the feeling of having to tell my friend something over text and texting them like “okay it’s a lot I’m gonna voice note” and then I send it and they respond “okay listening” and then 2 minutes 41 seconds later they respond “OMG.” I do think they’re more fun to send than receive, because the infrastructure on the phone around them is pretty poorly designed. If you leave the page you have to start them again, right? Or clumsily find your place? And once you send them, there’s often no indication that you sent it, once the person listens. That’s such an obviously fixable thing. Why do they just disappear without a trace? Hello???? How is it possible that I have design ideas for a tech company???? This is like how for years Apple had no “Mark As Unread” feature which was so obviously needed. I was like—sorry NO one over there’s thought of this obviously good idea? What’s the hold up?
EMBEDDED: What’s a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve listened to a lot lately?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I’ve been listening to a lot of like, ambient-ish repetitive modernist electronic music. I love Steve Reich’s “Music For 18 Musicians,” and like, Philip Glass. I love Time Wharp. I listen to music that’s not like that too, but it’s like, gay guy stuff.
EMBEDDED: Do you pay for a music streaming service, and if so, which one? When was the last time you bought a music download or vinyl record, CD, or tape?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I (my mom) pay(s) for Spotify Premium. I don’t love it—I feel like it makes it really hard to search your library except for via Playlists. I liked iTunes, where it felt you really owned your music, cuz I guess you did. Music was an object you had! Now on Spotify it’s really hard to comprehensively search by artists. I have a record player, and buy vinyl from time to time. I have a ton of Vinyl from my dad, who used to be a DJ. The last record I bought was Hejira by Joni Mitchell, was was the whole reason I wanted a record player in the first place! It took so long to find!
EMBEDDED: If you could only keep one streaming service for TV and/or movies, which would it be, and why? In general, do you prefer to get ads or pay more for ad-free tiers?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I (my mom) pay(s) for Ad Free. Probably HBO Max (Max….) because they have the most stuff? I wish I could say Criterion or Mubi or something but that’s just not true. It just wouldn’t be honest.
EMBEDDED: What’s your favorite non-social media app?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Does this mean media app that’s non-social, or an app that’s not social media? I like the New Yorker app and the NYTimes Games app. And the chess.com app. Sorry for being erudite :/
EMBEDDED: What’s the most basic internet thing that you love?
CHARLIE BARDEY: Gay porn!!!!!! Just kidding. Not sure.
EMBEDDED: Is there any content you want but can’t seem to find anywhere online?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I had a webcomic I made with a friend in like, 2008. It was called Yucca Muffin, and we were inspired by XKCD and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Most of the comics are lost! I wish we still had it.
EMBEDDED: Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What’s a recent thing you’ve bought or sold?
CHARLIE BARDEY: I use eBay sometimes! I bought these fabulous green sweatpants.
EMBEDDED: Have you recently read an article, book, or social media post about the internet that you’ve found particularly insightful?
CHARLIE BARDEY: What comes to mind is this post about TikTok from Rob Horning’s newsletter, which, among other things, posits that the reason TikTok is so transfixing is that it overwhelms you into submission. Here’s a quote:
With this theory in mind, one could interpret TikTok’s algorithmic feed as optimizing not so much for virality but for McLuhan’s sort of heat, which would induce a ricochet psychic somnambulism. As people mentally sleepwalk through the app’s videos, they become habituated to numbness, this protective non-engagement in which the relinquishment of agency becomes equated with a feeling of protection. As TikTok turns up the heat, the user’s submission to whatever videos they are served plays out as relief. It becomes icy hot.
EMBEDDED: What’s the last thing that brought you joy online?
CHARLIE BARDEY: You know, how fabulous is it that we can watch amazing performances on YouTube? I just had a Gay Guy YouTube night, where everyone shares fabulous YouTube videos of fabulous diva performances. Here was mine—Callie Day singing “Hear My Prayer” in some sort of rehearsal. God she’s transcendent. I love to share it! It’s truly shocking and magnificent. I hope you enjoy it too :)