Joker smoking a cigarette in 'The People's Joker'

How Vera Drew’s Experience Carving Her Own Path in Comedy Led to ‘The People’s Joker’

Vera Drew made a cult masterpiece with The People’s Joker. The movie that never gave up has finally hit theaters and audiences are able to experience Drew’s tale of identity, discovery, and comedy all in the world of Gotham City.

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It is obvious that Drew can pull from what she knows to create powerful art. In talking with her about The People’s Joker, which is a satirical take on the comic book character as a transgender coming-of-age story, it’s clear her background in comedy and her own love of DC comics helped make the film feel deeply authentic.

“I really just always thought about it like, I wanted to just portray my experience working in both mainstream comedy circles and alternative comedy circles and kind of showing what is good and bad about both,” Drew told The Mary Sue. “And doing it in a pretty honest, and now, like when I watch it, I’m like, oh my God, I was really angry that I had to pay a lot of money to take three UCB classes for them to finally tell me ‘You’re wrong for this place.’ Thankfully a teacher at UCB finally was like, ‘You’re the best improviser I’ve ever seen in my life. And you’re not a UCB improviser.'”

Drew talked about how alternative comedy scenes helped shape her brand of comedy. “I think that’s kind of the through line of all the UCB adjacent people, they’re all people who really carved their own path and dip toes in both of the waters. So I think surrounding myself with all those people really just helped me go, ‘Okay, this isn’t a bridge burner. It’s just me being honest and hopefully also optimistic about this stuff. ‘”

One of the very clear connections between comedy and the DC universe in The People’s Joker is the Penguin (Nathan Faustyn). Drew said that the Penguin in her film was based on Faustyn and the energy that they had, as well as a lot of the men that Drew was around at the time of her UCB/comedy rise. “He is also based off just a lot of the men that I was surrounded by,” she said.

“I think in a lot of films Schlubby White cis dudes are often just portrayed, and rightfully, so because there’s plenty giving them a bad name but I really wanted to show, like, ‘Hey, here’s a good one. Here’s the kind of weird heavyset bearded guys that I was just surrounded by for 10 years that maybe didn’t quite get who I was, when I was coming into my transness but still tried, still believed in me and still also checked my ego at the door when I needed it and called me on when I wasn’t like sticking true to my thing.'”

You can see our full interview here:

The People’s Joker is in theaters now!

(featured image: Altered Innocence)


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Author
Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.