chat room

Jenny Slate: SNL’s Newest Cast Member

Just a week ago, the world learned that Saturday Night Live is adding two new females to its cast this season (to replace the departed Casey Wilson and Michaela Watkins): UCB stalwarts Nasim Pedrad and Jenny Slate. We had the pleasure of bumping into Slate last night at the party for HBO’s Bored to Death, in which she also has a role. Vulture rapped with her about meeting Lorne, her favorite-ever SNL sketch, and what we can expect from her season.

How did you get the gig?
I was living in L.A. I’m normally living in Brooklyn … Cobble Hill. Lots of old people; I love it. So I was in L.A. for the summer, and two weeks later I was flown back to have a meeting with Mr. Lorne Michaels.

How was that?
It was absolutely exhilarating. I could not control how I felt. Even if I didn’t get it, it was so exciting.

So, what SNL did you grow up on?
The ones I remember when I was old enough to watch were with Cheri Oteri and Molly Shannon. But I begged my parents to get me the old VHS tapes for Hanukkah. So I had watched everything from the first five years. I studied it all and was always obsessed with it.

What’s your favorite sketch?
My favorite sketch recently was with Will Forte and Peyton Manning and they just do this dance. It’s really fresh and fun and just great.

Do you have an SNL role model?
Well, everyone looks up to Gilda Radner. But I really also love Rachel Dratch and Molly Shannon because they’re so filled with energy and really original. And from what I can tell, they both seem really, really lovely.

What is your style? What can we expect from you?
I love original characters. I also do impressions. So wherever my brain will go this week. I try to be as free as possible.

Have you started rehearsing?
Well, we don’t really rehearse. Right now we’re sort of getting acclimated. Me and the other new girl, Nasim [Pedrad] — who’s amazing, amazing, and gorgeous … so funny — we’re just kind of sitting in our offices and fiddling around and getting in gear.

Have the other cast members given you any advice?
They all have lots of things. Like, telling me to make sure to sit in my assigned seat.

Do they have assigned seats?
I don’t think so. I didn’t know if that was real or not. Sometimes I don’t think about sarcasm, which is weird for a comedian. I’m also intensely gullible. But everybody who works on Saturday Night Live is so nice. It’s just a really caring community.

Anything in particular that’s stuck with you?
Bobby Moynihan, who is an absolute darling, the other night said to me, “The point is to just have fun. Because you’ve waited your whole life to do this.”

Just a couple more questions …
Yes of course — this is so fun!

It’s cute — you’re so new, you don’t realize you’re famous now.
I don’t think I’m famous. I don’t feel any different. No one recognizes me.

But they will in a couple more weeks. Isn’t that weird?
It’s so weird! The biggest thing for me is being able to be in the SNL offices. I feel like I’m floating off the ground, but I’m still myself.

What did you do before this?
I was a stand-up comedian for years. And then I did Bored to Death, obviously. Doing commercials. I was a writer. I graduated from Columbia University, which is why I’m here.

And what were you doing in L.A.?
I was auditioning, and filming a TV show for Fox. It premieres in the fall. It’s called Brothers.

Are you working on that, too?
No, they’re writing my character off. I can’t say what happens. I was sad to leave them — but I’m very, very happy.

Jenny Slate: SNL’s Newest Cast Member