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Exclusive: Fairfax’s Jaboukie Young-White opens up about his journey to animation

Image of Jaboukie from his Instagram
Jaboukie Young-White stars in Amazon’s Fairfax. Pic credit: @jaboukie/Instagram

Comedian Jaboukie Young-White is a familiar name to anyone who’s well-acquainted with the online world. This social media star turned comedian has spent years building an incredible online presence, effortlessly adapting to the sophomoric humor of Millenial Twitter and the aesthetically-focused nature of Instagram.

As an admirer of comedy and television, Young-White has flourished in his career, gaining writing credits for Netflix’s Big Mouth and starring in the late-night talk shows The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. However, he has always felt drawn to achieving more than online clout. In an interview with Monsters & Critics, this Chicago-born performer spoke about what drew him to his latest animated project Fairfax.

“I have always loved animation. Growing up, I remember being super young and not being allowed to watch it. I used to turn the volume all the way down, so my parents couldn’t hear, put my ear up to the TV and watch it like that like when I was a kid,” shared Young-White. “I always liked Family Guy, Boondocks, and so much of Adult Swims programming like Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Those shows were seminal to the development of my tastes and everything.”

Offering some insight into his thoughts on the development of the animation genre, the comedian continued, “I think it’s really cool. Now, especially. I think even the term ‘adult animation’ suggests a time where you needed to make that distinction. Do you know what I mean? You don’t really hear people like, ‘Oh, this is an adult dramedy, or this is an adult comedy.’ The fact that animation automatically had like a childish association with it, I think that’s starting to disintegrate a little bit.”

Young-White added, “I think that now, it’s not thought of [as] this thing that you put aside as you get older. People who grew up loving animation, still love animation and continue to love animation. The medium is starting to evolve.”

Young-White’s latest series Fairfax does justice to all of this: paying homage to many animation greats in both its style and humor and putting forth entertainment that young minds are going to be tempted to break their household rules to watch.

The series follows a group of middle school pals on their desperate journey for “clout” and online fame. It’s light-hearted and topical, shining a light on the current influencer culture and progressiveness that leads the younger generation.

Jaboukie Young-White on playing Truman

Given Young-White’s expertise in the Online World, getting into his character Truman was a seamless process. He expressed that he felt as though he was paying homage to himself. Young-White told us, “Truman tapped into a younger version of myself, who was super into Hypebeast culture and on the ‘Kanye to the Forums’ (a Kanye West fan forum), and all of that.”

He added, “I always thought of social media as a tool. I was always like, ‘Okay, I want to do comedy, but let me do that through this medium.’ I think that it’s really interesting. As it goes on, we’re seeing more people who think of social media as the end, it’s no longer like a means to the end, it is the Holy Grail.”

Speaking more about his role in the series, he shared that in order to play Truman he had to “shift perspectives.” Young-White continued, “What if I just wanted clout? Like, what if that was the number one thing? I think that Truman is kind of different. He definitely views clout as like a means to the end, like he wants to be a director and do all this film stuff, but he wants to do that so he can be cool online.”

“I think that that’s a really interesting distinction. That feels more real. There are a lot of people who genuinely think that way now. So, it was definitely like, a little tweak to get into that mindset, but not too far off,” he concluded.

Throughout the remainder of our conversation, we spoke about his dream role, his interest in the technical side of animation, and his first impression of the show’s script. Our full interview can be viewed on the Monsters & Critics YouTube channel.

Watch our full interview below:

Fairfax is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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