«I don’t like things that seem perfect – those things scare me» – Elsa Majimbo on accepting imperfection in creativity
Elsa Majaimbo and Mo Kheir talk to Lampoon
«My creativity comes from daily occurrences» says Elsa Majimbo, the nineteen-year-old internet comedian who found her comedic forte in crafting monologues for Instagram in the midst of the first Covid-19 lockdown. She explains that «It was either be creative or go back to school», an ultimatum that seemed an obvious choice for someone who is able to freestyle every bit of content she creates exclaims Mo Kheir, Elsa’s manager, publicist and friend who has been mentoring Elsa in navigating an online presence since they began working together in June 2020. Mo remarks how the pair have sustained a commitment in choosing to select certain collaborations and campaigns to work on in an adherence to preserving Elsa’s authenticity. He says, «A couture collaboration takes you out of a certain sphere and puts you into another level».
Elsa x Valentino
Elsa x Valentino seeks to merge the imaginations of adults and children in the first book campaign Valentino has ever created: The Alphabet for Kids and Adults. Written by Elsa and co-authored by Mo, author and comedian, The Alphabet for Kids and Adults features an A-Z of graphics and definitions that endeavours to explore the capacity of letters and words to be understood. The book does not only transcend in its words, but also the look and feel of it as well. «When we did a call with the Valentino team and they held up a sample of what the book might look like, I was instantly like, I get it» says Mo. Prised in a cherry red cover with letters designed from a story of each character, the book is unlike what people have come to expect from a book like this. Having only been released in limited quantities for friends of both Elsa and Valentino, the book is structured in a way so parents and their children can depart on a shared experience of reading in a way which is tailored to the humour and knowledge of grownups and children.
Children and adult literature
Mo compares the book to the notion of versatility found in cartoon shows such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Simpsons, shows which captivate the attention of more than just one age group. He adds, «It’s not until you grow up that you think, oh I didn’t realize all that stuff that was layered and cooked in there». In balancing the dichotomies of childhood and adulthood, the book conflates the naiveties associated with being an infant to the sober realizations of reaching the age of maturity. Where the lower-case letters utilize innocence and unworldliness in a manner of curiosity, the upper-case letters exist in an entity of increased life experience and a perhaps this taken for granted awareness of being an adult. For example, “d” is for doughnut, where doughnuts are «round and delicious» however, “D” is for dating: «The only thing worse than 2020 is dating». An example of where the authors instil their comedic wit to create an experience that can be enjoyed by children and their parents. Mo says, «You don’t really see many situations where the parent is also enjoying what they’re reading».
Elsa Majimbo comedian
This simplicity embodies much of Elsa’s humour that appeals to a differing demographic. Mo notes that likewise to the book, Elsa’s following surpasses outside of her own bracket of Gen Z, «That type of versatility is that same type of approach which you see in the book except its subtly separated between the letters». Since attracting attention, she has accumulated over two million followers on Instagram and has gained recognition from figures all over the world, yet she retains the naturality of her comedy. Her straight up, and often unsociable tropes allow us to peer into her own comedy world, one where assertion of desire can be found at the heart of most of Elsa’s videos. In reading the opening page of the book, the prose prompt a familiarity to Elsa’s comedic poise. It reads, «Don’t get me wrong, this book is AWESOME, but I normally like to underpromise and overdeliver». Elsa reveals that prior to this she had never thought about working on a book before, «It was not something I had planned but it is something I am so glad I did». In asking Elsa what inspires much of her humour for creating, she says, «When it comes to me, creativity and humour are the same thing. Day to day things I do is what inspires my creativity which then inspires my humour because to me they are one thing».
Writing a book as a team
She explains that in working on this project as collaborative effort with Mo, she appreciated the synergy that has allowed for constant flow of ideas. «Anywhere I couldn’t fill up, Mo could and vice versa – in that way it is easier to work as a team than alone». Elsa and Mo have been working together since last year, but due to the pandemic, they still haven’t met in person. Mo articulates how the book wouldn’t have even materialised in the first place if it wasn’t for the pandemic. He exclaims, «Elsa rose out of the confines of this pandemic. Some people were able to thrive, and Elsa definitely has». Elsa based in Kenya and Mo in LA, their work on this book has taken place through nothing but virtual communication. «A lot of our communication is over Facetime, calls or voice messages. I don’t know what we haven’t communicated over to be honest» says Mo. «When it comes to creating, it’s a personal thing but for big projects, you need a team you can rely on» Elsa says. «It is also good to work with other people because they tell you where you’re messing up and they tell you what you’re doing good and they contribute a great amount, so I do like working as a team, but I also like working alone too».
Valentino’s literary projects
The pair describe how the degree of creative talent of the team at Valentino made the process smooth for everyone. Elsa says, «Every brand has their ups and downs, but I know their vision and I would work with them again. I feel a connection to the whole brand and the people there». Elsa discloses that for her, «perfect» does not matter. She says, «I don’t like things that seem perfect – those things scare me». Though Valentino’s roots exist in a history of haute couture, Valentino is one of the brands which has since began to engage with the arts of poetry and literature and they have been working with poets and other text artisans for over three years now. In part of their vision for the brand, Valentino are committed in establishing partnerships and collaborations which foster their values of inclusivity and cultural enrichment. As their first book campaign, Elsa x Valentino cultivates an element of surprise for fans in producing something unpredicted. Mo says, «People like something that is new and unexpected, and this campaign is presenting Elsa’s comedy in a unique way». While the mantra of the company breathes in the world of high fashion, Elsa x Valentino demonstrates a current in the brand which understands a changing demographic of consumers, who are invested and imbued with the ebbs and flows of trends across the internet.
Elsa Majimbo is a comedian. Her satirical monologues feature her crunching potato crisps, leaning back to a pillow and using a pair of tiny 1990s sunglasses as a prop. She gained recognition during the Covid 19 quarantine period by making home-based funny quarantine videos. On February 20, 2021, she partnered with Valentino to launch the book The Alphabet for Kids and Adults which she co wrote with Mo Kheir.
Growing up in Oman, New Zeeland and Qatar before relocating to the States. Kheir is an award winning comedian and designer. He’s co-author of the book The Alphabet for Kids and Adults. Kheir is also a partner at Iroko Treehaus, a Talent Development, Creative Strategy and investing agency based in LA.