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Lucia Keskin, a popular figure on YouTube, has expressed her fear of being labelled as an influencer.
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Lucia Keskin, a popular figure on YouTube, has expressed her fear of being labelled as an influencer.

Lucia Keskin, AKA “Chi” Keskin – the 23-year-old writer and star of the BBC’s offbeat comedy Things You Should Have Done – has an unusual specialist skill. She is so deadpan she can make audiences furious. “I often look depressed when I’m not,” she says, in her apathetic style. She recalls her first ever live television appearance on Soccer AM with footballer Robbie Keane. “I was enjoying myself but people online were like ‘oh my God, who is this? I’ve seen more personality in dishwater.’

“I recall telling my agent, ‘I am unable to do this, everyone dislikes me.’ However, when I reviewed the video, I appear to have a desire to end everything,” she explained. “So, it’s understandable.”

In her six-part series, Keskin portrays Chi, a deadpan and pessimistic character (whose name is a shortened version of her own name, Lucia, pronounced Lu-chi-a). Chi is not very ambitious and considers herself a “stay at home daughter”, compensating for her lack of common sense with her love for baggy t-shirts. At the start of the show, Chi learns that her parents have passed away in a car accident. When the police officer offers to contact anyone for her, she responds, “I would usually say my mom and dad, but…” and trails off in an awkward silence. Awkwardness is a recurring theme in Things You Should Have Done. In order to inherit her family’s home, Chi must complete a set of tasks similar to those encountered in adult life, such as getting a GCSE or learning how to drive. However, her attempts often result in absurd situations, such as accidentally accusing her driving instructor of being a paedophile and trying to move into a retirement home for a job. The series is dark, heartwarming, sorrowful, and at times, surreal. In other words, it showcases Keskin’s distinctive style.

For those encountering Keskin for the first time, it may seem too soon to be discussing her distinctive style. Apart from a few appearances on Big Boys (Channel 4), a small role in Sneakerheads (Dave), and a cameo in Diane Morgan’s Mandy, Keskin’s acting experience is limited. However, she has been refining her skills online since the age of 16 through her successful YouTube, TikTok, and social media channels.

‘I didn’t want the character to have the same name. I knew it would draw comparisons’ … as Chi in Things You Should Have Done.

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She expressed her dislike for attending classes, stating that she struggled with severe depression and would do anything to avoid going. During the week of her GCSE exams, she preferred to see the Addams Family Musical featuring Sam Womack as Morticia rather than focus on school.

Similar to Chi, Keskin spent her formative years in Margate, located on the coast of Kent. She resided with her parents and, despite reaching adulthood, never acquired the skill of driving. However, Keskin clarifies that the likenesses between herself and Chi end there. She was intentional in not giving her character the same name as hers, anticipating undesired comparisons. However, she admits that certain aspects of her personality may be reflected in an amplified manner through Chi.

At the age of 16, Keskin’s initial videos for her YouTube channel included the moment of unveiling her GCSE results. However, due to being asleep, she was not able to check them when they were released. She recalls this event, which highlights the beginnings of her amusing character development.

She mentioned that the video has been gaining more and more viewers over the years. Some viewers may only recognize her from her experience of failing the GCSEs.

Keskin’s channel has gained almost half a million subscribers and her most popular video has been viewed almost a million times. However, she does not consider herself to have achieved viral fame. Instead, her success has been a gradual and steady growth.

For years, she wasn’t earning any income from it. Only when she was able to monetize her content, did she receive recognition. She used the money to invest in wigs, a better camera, and a green screen. When she had to move out of her mother’s house, it was because her room was filled with costumes and wigs. It was chaotic and resembled a warehouse.

Keskin’s material often draws from contemporary popular culture, featuring celebrity imitations and bizarre tangents. She has created a satirical version of Coronation Street called “Coronation Feet” with a fictional toe injury storyline, and also a cleverly titled parody named “low budget Line of Duty”.

‘There’s definitely a stigma to doing online comedy. And I get it’ … Keskin.

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A portion of the attempts were unsuccessful: “I engaged in various spontaneous activities. I dressed up as a potato and strolled around my nearby shopping center.”

However, a few people did accomplish this task. One individual reported, “I painstakingly recreated an entire episode of Friends.” She portrayed each character and the resulting clip runs for nearly 20 minutes. So far, it has accumulated almost two million views.

However, it was during the time of lockdown when she began creating skits. These skits included mocking brainstorming sessions at Poundland headquarters where she portrays a clueless employee suggesting adding prices other than one pound. She also pokes fun at social media, in one video she cries while making beans on toast and expressing frustration at how quickly toast pops up. She also imagines popular sitcoms taking place in the midst of the pandemic, such as Nessa from Gavin and Stacey selling homemade vaccines. Another skit features an elderly woman chatting with her grandchild in the year 2071, reminiscing about a time when people could go outside and assuring them that the pandemic is now over.

During this period, Keskin’s viewership significantly increased. There was a quality to Keskin’s reflections on everyday life that resonated with people whose worlds had become smaller and more domestic.

“Move on from newsletter advertising”

Keskin noticed that everyone around her was constantly on their phones and had nothing to do. Despite the fact that everyone’s life had changed, hers remained the same as she was always at home. However, this situation motivated her to put on entertaining activities to keep others occupied. She realized that since people had nothing to do, she could also fill her own time by doing something to entertain them.

After gaining recognition from notable figures such as Dawn French, Keskin became a notable presence in the comedy industry. She was represented by a well-respected agent and secured a meeting with the BBC, leading to her success in the field.

The discovery of talent through online platforms is often criticized, with individuals being labeled as “influencers” rather than true artists, and their work being seen as cheap and attention-grabbing. However, in the case of Keskin, the internet has proven to be a valuable tool for launching careers. This also has a sense of equality to it. Normally, new talents are launched through a university education and a theatre performance, or through a stand-up comedy circuit that is dominated by the wealthy. It is not often that we see a young woman from Kent, with a limited educational background, whose craft has flourished in the challenging realm of social media. Keskin remarks on the harshness of getting heckled on stage, but also notes that the comments on online platforms are permanent.

“There is certainly a negative perception towards creating online comedy content. While I understand it, I also dislike the stereotypical portrayal of influencers who only care about appearances. It would be my biggest fear to be labeled as an influencer.”

From left … Jamie Bisping, Selin Hizli, Keskin and Sinead Matthews.View image in fullscreen

In my opinion, Things You Should Have Done highlights the highlights of Keskin’s creative journey. It features surreal moments and comedic performances – for example, Keskin portrays John Humphrys hosting Mastermind with the topic of grief – while also showcasing her talent as a screenwriter with a great understanding of what audiences find humorous and emotional. Some of the standout scenes in the show are not solely performed by Keskin, but also by other actors such as Selin Hizli as the prickly Aunt Karen, Daniel Fearn as Karen’s subdued husband Dave, and Jamie Bisping as their teenage son Lucas, who is both simple-minded and fiercely loyal to Chi. Amidst the comedic chaos, the show also navigates the family’s struggle with loss and their occasional unkindness towards each other. This is not typical influencer material that aims for likeability and relatability.

According to Keskin, writing about unlikeable characters is more enjoyable because she finds horrible and unintelligent people to be more entertaining subjects.

She considers deadpan-master Diane Morgan and pitch-black comedy icon Julia Davis to be two of her heroes.

She reflects on past memories and thinks, “How was I ever so embarrassing?” It’s hard to believe that in four years, I’ll look back at the present and feel the same way.” At 23, Keskin still has many years to cringe and push her deadpan humor to greater heights.

The program “Things You Should Have Done” is currently available on iPlayer.

Source: theguardian.com