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Sitcom Soul Mates Ellie Kemper and Aubrey Plaza Reminisce About Ill-Advised Bus-Station Sandwiches (and Other Things)

Aubrey Plaza and Ellie Kemper aren't office drones — they just play them on TV. Plaza, 26, plays surly assistant April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation, and 28-year-old Kemper joined the cast of The Office last season as the astonishingly naïve secretary Erin Hannon. Beyond dueling NBC sitcoms, the good pals' résumés share web series (both have contributed to Funny Or Die and College Humor), movie roles (both appeared in Derrick Comedy's 2009 feature Mystery Team), and stints at New York City's Upright Citizens Brigade, where they first met. “I remember watching you onstage and being like, 'I wanna be like that!'” Plaza tells Kemper. “That's how I remember meeting you. And then we hung out together when we were really drunk.” Packed schedules keep the two friends from hanging out too much, so we let them interview each other about sandwiches, hags, witches, and Kelly Ripa.

Plaza: Do you remember when we filmed Mystery Team together and we would take a really shitty bus ride from New Hampshire back to New York from shooting and we had to sit together on the grossest-smelling bus ever? Do you remember what we were eating on the bus?

Kemper: You had this very cheesy delicious vegetarian sub and I had ... I don't know what kind of sub I had. It was a melted sub that we got at a bus station.

Plaza: I feel like it had turkey on it.

Kemper: It must have had turkey on it. Which, I have to tell you — that was not a choice I would make today. Because we did get it at the bus station. I think you shouldn't get meat at a bus station.

Plaza: We also had a bag of chips. Don't forget about the bag of chips, Ellie.

Kemper: Okay, okay. I didn't remember completely ... Were we sharing a single seat? We were very close to each other.

Plaza: Yeah, we were really close to each other.

Kemper: Yeah. But ... I have nothing but fond memories of the sandwich, even though, again, it was bought at a bus station and we were eating it on a bus. Was it a Greyhound bus, Aubrey?

Plaza: Yeah, it was. It was a Greyhound bus. That's how Ellie and I used to roll — Greyhound bus from New Hampshire back to the city ... There was a lot of transferring. Things have changed, Ellie. We were transferring.

Kemper: I know, I know.

Vulture: And now you guys bus direct, right?

Kemper: Now we do.

Plaza: Now I fly in a jet that has a picture of my face on it.

Kemper: Aubrey, I hear you have a fascination with hags. When did you first become interested in them?

Plaza: I can't really explain it except that I can tell you that in, like, seventh grade or sixth grade I thought I was a witch and was really into witchcraft and I would go in the woods and do spells and, like, pick up rocks and try to make fire and do spells on myself and other people. And I got really into it. I don't know what it was, but it was, like, me and this girl Kathy Collins — who I went to school with, who's really funny — and we thought we were witches and we were obsessed with, like, old-hag-looking witches and just thought they were really funny ... And it just kinda turned into this thing where I was like, “Okay, hags are my thing, and I'm gonna dress up like a hag and make videos about hags,” and it just got out of control. Now every day there's at least one part of the day that a hag is referenced or someone talks about a hag to me.

Kemper: Aubrey, I did not know that it was that much a part of your life, still — that people talk about it every day.

Plaza: Well, not every day, but people know about it and, like, you're asking me about it. I guess I get fixated on things, and the hags are one thing I've always been fixated on. My first day in L.A., I dressed like a hag and I ran down Rodeo Drive screaming at the top of my lungs.

Kemper: Are you being serious?

Plaza: I'm dead serious. I have video footage of it ... Ellie, for some reason I've always felt like you would be an amazing talk-show host someday.

Kemper: Aubrey, you are too much, my friend. I really am happy you just mentioned that and I hope that it appears that you brought it up, because I just had that very idea a few weeks ago and I mentioned it to my mom and sister and they both, like, laughed in my face. They were both like, “Why would you be a talk-show host?” Aubrey, I would very much like to be a talk-show host! But I sort of could say the same thing about you. I think you would also be a good talk-show host in terms of making —

Plaza: Making people feel uncomfortable?

Kemper: Yeah ... Can I tell you something? I love Kelly Ripa! Like, I love her.

Plaza: Me too!

Kemper: I watch Regis and Kelly most mornings.

Plaza: I really could see you doing that. I think that's gonna happen.

Kemper: Oh my gosh! If I get a talk show and, I don't know, if you also want to get a talk show —

Plaza: I don't think I'd be good at it. I think you would. I don't know why.

Kemper: Well, I don't know why you think you wouldn't be. If I ever get a talk show, you can be, like, the —

Plaza: The first guest?

Kemper: — stage person. Yes, the first guest! Aubrey, you would be perfect. You would definitely be the first guest and you'd get credit for coming up with the idea. And I just hope that my mom and sister know that you are supportive of my idea.

Kemper: If you had to have another profession — like if acting didn't exist and comedy didn't exist — what do you think it would be?

Plaza: I think I would be a politician or would run for office. I used to be really involved with that stuff in high school and I was, like, student council president and I was really into local campaigns, although I got really into it for weird reasons. I was really into the rivalry aspect of it, and we would, like, steal the opponent's signage and set them on fire and stuff. I liked that part of it. I kind of was like one of those kids who thought I was going to be president. I wanted to take over the world. I could still go to law school. My mom's a lawyer. That's still something I'm interested in, just down the line. Maybe I'll be like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Kemper: I didn't know that about you.

Plaza: That people compare me to Schwarzenegger?

Kemper: Yeah, I didn't know that you get the hag reference and the Schwarzenegger, like, nearly every day.

Vulture: You might have a hard time running for public office with your background in witchcraft.

Plaza: I can be the Wiccan candidate.

Vulture: They are underrepresented in public office.

Plaza: I'm gonna put a spell on Afghanistan. I think that from this interview I've gathered this much information: that in ten years the two of us are going to have a witch talk show where we're witches. It will be a political talk show, but we'll be witches and we'll talk about witchcraft. And we'll have celebrity guests.

Kemper: It'll be on Sunday morning. Oh, I can't wait.

Plaza: What do you think, Rachael?

Vulture: I would totally watch it. In ten years from now, or tomorrow.

Plaza: We can figure it out. We can get HBO.

Kemper: We'll work out the kinks.

Vulture: There's always the Internet ...

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images