Friday, May 1, 2009
Officially, the visit by stars of "Saturday Night Live" was a secret, but secrets seldom stay secret long in the chattery world of Chicago improv.
So the generally hectic Wednesday night at the iO theater in Wrigleyville was exceptionally frenzied this week, with fans lining up outside starting at 6:30 for the 8 p.m. show and stuffing every seat in the downstairs cabaret. Some of them surely were drawn by the prospect of seeing people they knew from TV -- people who wouldn't even be taking the stage.
The rumors proved true: Longtime "SNL" cast members Will Forte and Jason Sudeikis settled into reserved seats just before showtime, along with co-stars Casey Wilson and Abby Elliott, relative newcomers to NBC's late-night comedy powerhouse. A swarm of writers from the show completed the party.
They watched comedy typical of what iO visitors see most any night. The team 3033 made up and demonstrated various historic phases of improv, all of them preposterous. Bullet Lounge built the suggestion of "banana split" into a poignant scene of a man losing his dying wife, as actors pretended to embellish them with whipped cream and sprinkles. Carl & the Passions made up a school assembly where kids ignored the lessons on refrigerator safety and probed the janitor about his vomit cleaner.
The "SNL" folks laughed, just as they'd hoped to during an outing that was more vacation than business trip.
The group was 18 strong and could have been even bigger; cast members Michaela Watkins and Kenan Thompson dropped out when they got last-minute gigs. Kristen Wiig, one of this season's most prolific "SNL" talents, came for a while but split before the night at iO.
John Lutz, an iO alum and "SNL" writer who put the trip together, patterned it after annual sojourns the show staff takes to Cambridge, Mass. "SNL" writers with roots at the Harvard Lampoon give their colleagues a look at where they come from, and Lutz thought staffers from Chicago could do a similar tour.
"A lot of ['SNL'] people haven't come to Chicago at all, let alone the Second City or iO," said Lutz, who also appears on "30 Rock" as a hapless writer named Lutz. "It's part of 'SNL' history as well."
The comics arrived Monday and hit Second City as well, catching the mainstage show "America: All Better" on Tuesday. Along the way they've made stops on the standard tourist circuit: pizza at Giordano's, ribs at Twin Anchors, drinks atop the Hancock.
"And the orgies!" Sudeikis said. "Oh my God, the orgies have been insane."
It was a homecoming for Sudeikis, who used to perform at iO and with Second City's touring companies. For Elliott, it was a fresh experience, her first visit to Chicago since a childhood trip to the top of the Sears Tower.
She'd heard much about improv here during her training at New York's Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre -- a company founded by Chicago-trained comics -- and was excited to see it and study it. That done, she has one more goal to accomplish before heading home on Thursday.
"I heard that Portillo's has a chocolate cake milkshake," she said, "and I am craving that I will get it."
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
She talks about SNL, her childhood etc. etc.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Watkins will play Mona, the longtime best friend of Lopez's character, a fed-up wannabe mother who meets a promising romantic prospect the same day she receives artificial insemination.
Kate Angelo ("Will & Grace") wrote the screenplay, and Alan Poul ("Six Feet Under") is directing.
The movie will be CBS Films' first feature release, set to hit theaters in January.
Watkins is a member of the Groundlings comedy troupe. Her TV credits include "The New Adventures of Old Christine," "Californication" and "Medium." Her next feature is the comedy "The Prankster."
Here is SNL's very own Kenan Thompson asking Miss Arizona a question about universal healthcare at the Miss USA pageant, where he was apparently a judge.
The answer she gives is spectacularly stupid, so it brings the laughs.
From Scripps News :
Q: You voice the assistant principal in this new animated series for maybe an assistant principal you once knew?
A: It was strictly based on the writing. When I was growing up, we tried to stay as far away from the principals as we could.
Q: "SNL" cast members have set the bar high. Do you feel pressure to be a big success after you leave "SNL"?
A: Oh no, not at all. To be honest, you are so busy from week to week that you don't have time to think about anything except for the Saturday that is in front of you. So it's pretty all-consuming
Q: Does criticism affect you? Do you pay attention?
A: Sure. The positive side of having such a busy schedule is that you always have another show right around the corner, so hopefully you can redeem yourself. You learn to develop your own system in your head for what works and what doesn't. You just have to trust yourself.
Q: So were you always confident in your talent growing up? Did you even know you had it?
A: I knew I was kind of a weird guy, I guess (laughing), and I was really loud. I don't know if I would say I was confident in my talent. I knew I really wanted to do it. The weirdest thing for me, after college I worked at a brokerage firm and I decided, "OK, I'm going to go for it." The biggest step was telling your friends and family that you were going to go for it because to me it felt like that means you're telling everybody, "I am going to make it in this business." To me it almost sounded like you're bragging or something.
Q: Did your family and friends find you funny, and did they say you should be a comedy writer?
A: Umm, no, they didn't, but it wasn't like the craziest stretch for them. I suppose it would have been different if I said I was going into regular dramatic acting. I don't think my face would support that kind of job. But, yeah, they could buy you are a funny-looking guy getting into comedy.
Q: What about the idea that all comics have a dark side?
A: I don't buy that so much. I know a lot of awesome, very well-adjusted people. Maybe that's a standup thing, but sketchwise I know so many great people who have wonderful lives and great upbringings.
Q: Comic tastes change from Roseanne Roseannadanna to David Spade's Hollywood Reporter. Do you worry about being current?
A: No, not really. Really the only thing you can do is do something you find funny and, hopefully, that's something people find funny. A lot of times it isn't and sometimes you are lucky. Sometimes you'll do a table read, and there will be something that just kills at the table read and you are so excited to do it that week, and then it crickets at the dress rehearsal and you don't get to do it. So you have no idea until you put it up before an audience.
Q: Did the dynamic change between you and your friends or family once you became a regular on "SNL"?
A: Not at all. I was living in L.A. at the time, so my parents are up north, and they felt they got to see me a lot more because they got to see me on TV. In a weird way it brought us closer. It didn't change things that much in my relationships with the people I was closest to. It is a crazy schedule. It's tough. You lose touch with those people you only talk to every couple of months because you are going so nuts with this work schedule. A lot of times what I end up doing is nothing, just sitting on the couch and watching TV the whole time.
Q: Do you ever watch "Mad TV"?
A: Sure I have, not often, though. I didn't watch "Saturday Night Live" that often before I got there.
Q: How about dating? Is it easier being famous or more difficult?
A: Hmmm. Well, it's easier. (Laughing) It depends on the type of person you are ... as long as you are good at reading people.