To coincide with the launch of W’s stay-at-home Instagram challenge, we reached out to the people for whom a shelter-in-place order is an opportunity for creativity, a call to action.
During a moment when so many celebrities and public figures have been getting it wrong, this eclectic crew has managed to hit all the right quadrants of empathy, humor, creativity, and realness. They’ve been lifting our spirits between all the dark news and the somber moments, reminded us to laugh, provided us with a much-needed distraction from the very real fears and tragedies, and been caring and thoughtful about what they’ve put out into the world. While we can’t compare them to the doctors, nurses and essential workers risking their lives daily, the people who have pivoted to making charitable contributions, stepping up as entertainers, and sharing mental health resources have added something positive.
The comedian and writer Chelsea Peretti is spending her quarantine the only way she knows how: by keeping it real while bringing levity to our feeds with unhinged makeup tutorials, recipes, playlists, and videos of her husband, fellow comedian and creator Jordan Peele.
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Have you developed a morning routine in quarantine?
I don’t know. A lot of parents were going on about the schedules that they were suggesting, and I’ve learned that I’m just not a schedule person. So, the routine is definitely coffee. It’s crucial because we’re quarantined with a toddler. He’s, let’s just say, quite energetic. You can’t really half-ass it unless you just let him watch screens a lot, but then he has emotional outbursts when that ends. So it’s not always worth it. I also don’t really want to rot his brain. So we’re trying to find a happy medium of some screen time, so that we can work on our work, but still not rot his brain. I feel like our generation grew up watching a lot of TV. Not me in particular, but Jordan did. My mom was weird. She only allowed me to watch one show a week.
What did you used to watch?
Well, it shifted around. It would be In Living Color and SNL or Martin. The Wonder Years was a huge one, but weirdly in this quarantine, I haven’t been watching anything because by the time my son is asleep, we’re so tired. Then it’s dish-washing and cleaning up, and you don’t feel like doing anything.
What time have you been waking up in the morning?
At this point, my son has been waking up at 7:15 every morning, but there was a time when he was waking up at like 8:30, but he was going to bed at 9:00 and 10:00 at night. So we had to put an end to that! I’ve barely left my house. Because everyone was advised to go outside on walks all the time, there’s people everywhere, all over the sidewalk, a lot of them not wearing masks and a lot of people not really even respecting the six-feet distancing thing.
You mentioned that when your son is asleep or busy, you can sometimes have your moments for you and Jordan to sit down and finally get some work done. What’s been a good way that you’ve found that you’ve been able to express yourself during quarantine?
I’m always creative in times of boredom and in times of even depression or anxiety because it’s cathartic and it’s a release. So I’ve been doing my pseudo makeup tutorials. I always feel this way about makeup, but the ridiculousness of caring about how you look when you’re not being social in any way…it just also feels cathartic to just deface yourself and feel like you’re externalizing how you feel inside, which is strange and dark and unhinged. [Laughs.]
I’ve seen a lot of the recipes you’ve tried on your Instagram, like the lemon cake. What’s the best recipe you’ve tried?
For a lot of people, if you have groceries, cooking is definitely distracting. I don’t read the news if I’m cooking. That’s been interesting. Obviously, making things I normally would never make depending on whatever’s available because stores have had to scramble to know how to have anything. I’ve only made one lemon cake. I don’t know why I was really deflated about it. It is really good. We’ve almost eaten through the entire thing in about half a day. My stepmother used to make one, which was just a boxed cake, yellow cake, and then added a packet of lemon Jello to it. Then when it comes out of the oven, you pour two sections of sugar lemon juice on top for a glaze. That thing was so amazing.
Which recipes have been a big hit with your husband and your son?
I’ll tell you the opposite, which was the worst. I made a sardine casserole. I don’t know what I was thinking. I mean, listen, I like sardines. They’re fine, they’re good for some protein, they’re canned, they’re great to have. I’m not going to have sardines every night. I went to The New York Times recipe app and I was looking for casseroles, so I saw sardine casserole, and I’m like, oh that’s high in protein. I forget if it had spinach in it, too. It was just something where I was like, this is healthy, I’m making something I can just throw in the oven. My friend Kate also made it. It was so bad. I don’t know how I inspired her to make it the whole night, too, but we both had on quarantine goggles, which is like, you’re making food that you just never would normally eat. I made bread pudding and I don’t really like bread pudding, I just needed to use up old bread. The cool part is I’ve been trying to waste food way less, which is something I’ve always felt guilty about. It’s cool to be more aware of food waste. That’s my final statement.
What content have you consumed that’s been particularly inspiring?
I’ve been watching David Chang and Jose Andres cooking videos on Instagram. It is weird. I don’t know why. In these times, I keep mentioning David Chang so much that I actually accidentally called my friend Esther “David Chang.” She was like, “You’re starting to lose it.” Someone showing you how to make something new when you’re trapped and you miss going out and trying someone else’s ideas is such a cool service that these chefs are sharing with us. I feel like chefs are always such big personalities. So they’re fun to watch and give me ideas for stuff. Oh, and then Amateur Gourmet is an Instagram account I like. I don’t actually know what his story is, I think he has cookbooks and stuff. I don’t even know how I wound up there, but everything he makes always looks so good to me. We started messaging and stuff. My hope is that we’ll get to eat together after the quarantine is over.
Aside from Instagram cooking videos, what else have you been watching while in quarantine?
I’ve barely watched any TV or movies, I need a good recommendation. I was thinking of watching this reality show, Doomsday Preppers. There’s another one I just saw a post about that’s like, people who think they’re “10”s. [Laughs.] People who think they’re super hot. I’m always fascinated by people whose identity is that they’re hot. I’ve certainly never had that privilege walking through life, but I don’t know what to watch. Nothing hits the spot. I think it’s just that constant anxiety and gloom and dread mixed with exhaustion. What feels right for that mood? Nothing. Actually, I’ve been listening to more music and I feel like that’s somehow easier than watching something. I need suggestions, if you have any.
Mrs. America with Cate Blanchett is pretty good!
I don’t know about it, but I love her.
It’s about the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 70s and she plays Phyllis Schlafly, the woman who sort of led the conservative anti-feminist movement and opposed the ERA. It was created by a writer who used to work on Mad Men.
You know, I never finished Mad Men.
What?! You have time now.
I know, but the thing is when I met Jordan, he wasn’t watching it and I was already deep into it. So then, you know how women do. I abandoned it. I abandoned my passion for Mad Men! [Laughs.]
Have you had any memorable Zoom or FaceTime calls lately?
You know, my high school friend set up a recurring Saturday morning Zoom. That’s been kind of fun, just to have a weekly check-in. I have this album, this music album that I’ve created, and I have to edit it. I shot a music video right before the quarantine started, so I had to edit it over Zoom and FaceTime. It was just so laggy and blurry, but we got it done. I guess it’s better than not having it done.
What is the first thing that you’ll do when this is all over?
This is so not a fun answer, but I feel like I want to see what restaurants are still open. I’m scared we’re going to come out like, “Oh, I’ll go here.” Then it’s like, “No, they didn’t survive.” I don’t understand how there’s not some sort of help for all these businesses and all these people. I don’t know what we’re going to emerge to, and that’s what scares me. You notice I said restaurants before friends. [Laughs.] This is why I can’t stay fit. But of course I want to see my friends. I want to see my family and go on some walks and see my friends. I miss going to get a coffee at this one place that I really love. They make all these different, crazy coffees that are so good. Going on little weekend trips and travel. It doesn’t seem real that this is happening all over the entire world right now. There’s no escape!
What else are you missing right now?
I really want to go out into nature. There’s this little mountain town that I like. I was like, “Oh, I wish I was there right now.” Then I saw an Instagram post, it was like, “Do not come here. This is a small town. We don’t have medical resources.” I don’t know what it’s going to be like when the quarantine ends and I don’t know if it’s going to end full stop or if it’s going to relax a little bit, or if the quarantine is going to happen in waves. It seems like a lot of people are saying it could be in waves. Basically, I don’t plan to have any fun or relax until a vaccine comes. It’s just figuring out ways to have catharsis through creating things because that’s my only skill set. [Laughs.] That’s all I’m left with.
Are there any causes or organizations that you would like to shout out that are helping people during this pandemic?
There are causes that I’m normally interested in. I like Heal the Bay. They do the beach cleanups and they’re an organization that obviously cares about one of the biggest things. I also think that Jose Andres’s organization World Central Kitchen seems to do great work. He’s serving meals to people wherever there are disasters or need. So I’ve been following his work for a while. I think he should get a Nobel Prize or something. And Dig Deep is a nonprofit organization working to ensure that every American has clean, running water. We donated to them because the idea that you could be in this pandemic and not be able to wash your hands is just terrifying. I’m sure there’s a million more. Got to get people out of prisons who are going to be exposed to a deadly disease. You can’t make a death sentence for any crime.