What were your grandparents doing between 1939 and 1945?
That’s the kind of question you might, as a Jew, expect to think to yourself upon meeting a European person. But it’s probably not one you’d ask out loud — or at least, certainly not during sex.
In her latest music video, 24-year-old Jewish comedian Rose Kelso is doing just that.
“European Boys,” which debuted on all Comedy Central digital platforms yesterday, features hilariously kinky and Jewy lines like “Did you hear that, Grandma, Grandpa? / Your dear grandson got pegged by a Jew! / The best part is that I did / every single thing he begged me to,” and “Give him eight days and he’ll call on me / to carry out his bris.”
Even better, the lyrics are accompanied by a klezmer melody and a colorful and campy vibe that would make John Waters himself plotz.
If you’re thinking that Rose looks a little familiar, that’s because you might’ve seen her on TikTok. Rose, known by her username @longislanddirt_, has just over 353.2K followers at time of publication. She’s gone viral quite a few times for her brief sketches featuring, among other things, a chaotic, Jewish-coded character with a thick Long Island accent.
Ibs awareness month ❤️ how u celebrating 🤪
I recently chatted with Rose over Zoom about the very real events that inspired “European Boys,” TikTok fame and whether or not Judaism is camp. Plus, she showed me her foot tattoo.
This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Could you tell me about your Jewish background and identity?
I was raised secularly Jewish. My mom’s side of the family is Jewish; my dad was raised Catholic and never converted. But he really kind of separated from his family and wanted to raise his kids Jewish, because he appreciated the culture more. One of the biggest things he said was that in Catholicism you couldn’t question anything. And he always liked how in Judaism, that was encouraged. And he was like, that’s what I want my kids to understand. So that’s been very ingrained in my whole life, that Judaism is more than a religion — it’s also this incredibly important culture that people would want to frame their child’s worldview around. So that was my whole life. And of course, I had a bat mitzvah and everything.
But it’s interesting: My last name is Scottish. So at first, a lot of people don’t know that I’m Jewish. And I’ve also been told a lot that I don’t look Jewish, which is always a weird comment. But that hides my Jewishness a bit. And I like having the Scottish last name because I love my dad and that part of my family, but it definitely makes me lean into being like, I am Jewish, hear me roar!
And what’s it like being TikTok famous?
I mean, it’s weird. It’s very… it feels like it shouldn’t have happened. Because TikTok is the app for 15 minutes of fame. They’ve somehow, I don’t know who the magic little engineers are behind this algorithm, but they’re giving everyone this chance of like, oh my god, you can be famous! So it feels nice to have that attention and then actually get to put out the work that I care about and see that people also care about it or are interested in it. So it has its pros and cons. The cons are that I’m chronically online on this stupid fucking app. But the pros are that people are seeing my stuff. And that’s all I ever wanted as someone who wants to be the center of attention, you know?
Yeah, absolutely. A lot of your TikTok content is very Jewish. Have you ever had to deal with antisemitism online?
A little bit. The antisemitism is definitely more hidden. I don’t see as many antisemitic people who are very vocal… or I guess it’s harder to suss out. But with this newest video I put out, which is the clip of me doing “European Boys,” I got so many comments that were like, why are you complaining about this thing? It’s not his grandparents’ fault. First off, they didn’t even understand the joke. But then it’s like, you’re telling me to not complain about the Holocaust?! Like, okay, yeah, I’ll get over it. So it’s definitely strange.
It’s so complicated because there are definitely dogwhistles that I can’t necessarily put my finger on. I want to be clear that it’s not that there’s less antisemitism or that it doesn’t happen. It’s just harder to see sometimes.
For sure. So can you tell me about what inspired “European Boys” and what the writing process was like?
OK, so truly what inspired it is that I’ve had a few European boyfriends in my life. And while I was dating them, I realized that when you’re in Europe, a lot of times you meet these people who can trace their family lineage back to like 1000 CE — they’ve been in the same country forever. And it’s like, that’s weird, because if you guys were just chilling and you were fine, then, like, what happened in the ’40s? You know? And so that’s really where it came from.
And then I actually had hooked up with this Dutch boy. You can put this in. We had just had sex, and then I leaned over and I was like, what were your grandparents doing between 1939 and 1945? I actually just asked that question. And he said, “Hmm…they made some mistakes.” And then he said, “But my grandmother got the medal of honor in 1944.” And I was like, Oh, that’s really nice. But then when I thought about it and it sat in my head, I was like, the war didn’t end until ’45.
That’s still Nazi-occupied Netherlands!
Yeah, so that is when it clicked for me. And then I kept that phrase, that actual question, that I asked him. And I was like, I’m gonna make a whole song. So that’s where it comes from.
And what was the process of pitching it to Comedy Central?
So I work at the Comedy Central digital team. And so my whole job is pitching sketches like this all day. And it was one of those things where like, I love the idea so much, and I feverishly wrote it in two days. And then I came into work and I was like, here’s the song. And I think I said like, I’m going to make this. So that was kind of how that came about.
And have your parents seen the video yet?
I’ve had to warn my mom about it. I don’t think I really told my dad about it. I sang it for him once in real life. But it’s so dirty, and I kind of had to sit my mom down a few times; it almost felt like a little training program. I was like, I wrote a song for Comedy Central and it’s a little, you know. And then the next time I was like, I’m in [a] BDSM [outfit] and I’m beating up a naked boy on the bed. Also, there’s a joke about pegging him in front of the grandparents.
So I think she’s ready, but I’ll never know. And she’s usually pretty good. The two of them are very like, Rose is going to do her own thing.
So I’ve seen other things you’ve done for Comedy Central like “Boomer Stoop.” But does this feel like more of a personal project, even though it is still associated with your job?
Yes, oh my god. It definitely is. So “Boomer Stoop” was kind of the first thing I ever was able to make for Comedy Central. And so I made sure that it was a repeatable series that we could get a lot of different topics into it and everything. And it had its own purpose. It’s not over yet. It’s just a little older. And this is kind of the first time I’ve been able to make a pure comedy sketch, a setup and a punchline — and it’s coming from my life. So this feels like my child.
That’s awesome. So I’d say your comedic style is Jewishness and camp. Do you think that Judaism or Jewish culture is camp?
It’s so camp. Ah, oh my god, this is my favorite question I’ve ever been asked in my entire life. OK, for the record, I have this tattoo on my foot. Hold on, let me show you. And it says, “That’s Camp, Baby.” You see that?
Yeah, I love that.
But Judaism is so camp. It’s incredibly camp, in my opinion — I know Susan Sontag is really the definer of camp. But camp is pure irony, and that is the Jewish experience. Like the way that every single holiday we have is so joyous, but all the songs are about how we were persecuted. Even thinking about how all Jews love Passover — not to generalize, I’m sure there are some Jews who hate it. But most of us love Passover. And when I have to explain to goys what is at the table, it’s like, this represents our tears! This represents the cement we used when we were enslaved! It’s so crazy. And then on top of that, Jewish culture and Jewish people are so camp. When Jews talk to Jews, you couldn’t get more camp than that.
Yeah, especially older Jews.
Older Jews are iconic. When older Jewish women wear cheetah print and blue eyeshadow? That is pure camp.
So what drives you to incorporate your Jewishness into your comedy?
OK, so a big rule of thumb for being a creative is to write what you know. And that is what I know and have experienced my whole life. So I don’t really find anything else funny. Because that’s just me. That’s my experience.
You put on this Long Island-Jewish accent for a lot of your content. Is that based on anyone specific? Or is that just an amalgamation of people?
It’s definitely an amalgamation of people. It’s half Long Island women, half Jewish women, for sure. And those are a few different women, because I grew up on Long Island, but I did not grow up in a Jewish area of Long Island, which surprises most people. When I say to people that there weren’t a lot of Jews where I grew up, they’re like, Long Island is incredibly Jewish. And I’m like, not this part!
But those acts and that character, who has affectionately been named “Auntie” by the internet, is definitely this tough-as-nails, snort-coke-in-the-bathroom-and-drink-gasoline-if-I-want-to kind of person. And I think that quality of “we’re all gonna die so live” is definitely in Long Islanders and Jewish women.
I’m curious if you think that kind of comedy is having a moment right now? Because I see your content on TikTok all the time. And then Sarah Squirm, a fellow Long Island Jew, who also has that “Long Island Dirt” vibe, is also big right now.
Yeah. I mean, I think it is really having a comeback in a way, which is nice. But I also think it’s kind of a timeless thing. I think people like to see a strong woman. Maybe. Or like a fucking messy one.
So “European Boys” is coming out today. Do you have any other upcoming projects?
I do. We’re shooting a music video next week called “Ain’t Nothing Gay in the Wild West” and that’s entirely based on Sam Eliott’s interview on “The Power of the Dog.” So I’m very excited for that one. And then we have a music video coming out called “You Look Like Your Dad,” which we shot with DeStorm Power back in March. And I wrote and directed both of those.
What are your goals for “European Boys”? It’s coming out on all Comedy Central platforms, but do you want to continue performing it live?
I do. I mean, I am 24 years old. And I didn’t perform live as much as I wish I had in college. And right when I graduated, and I was like, starting to try and figure out if I was going to do it, COVID hit, and I ended up getting this job at Comedy Central. Which was great, but I completely shifted my focus away from performing live.
So my goal right now is definitely… I’ve performed “European Boys” quite a bit live, and it’s great every time, but I want to turn it into more of a live show that’s like an hour long. That would be very nice. Right now I have a solid, like, 10 minutes. And that took me a long time. So you know, multiple that by six.
And would you want to incorporate more of your Jewishness into that as well?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think I’m just naturally gonna have to. So I do want to figure out what that bridge is of communicating this kind of experience in comedy. But, you know, that just comes from trial and error and bombing.