comics talk to comics

Chelsea Peretti Talks to Natasha Leggero About Her Comedy Special, Dinner Parties, and Donks

Photo: Illustration: Maya Robinson and Photo by Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

It’s a big week for Natasha Leggero: Her stand-up special Live at Bimbo’s premieres Saturday night at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central, the same network that earlier this week renewed the show she co-stars in and co-created, Another Period, which wraps up its acclaimed first season on Tuesday. To discuss this exciting time, and many other things, Vulture had Leggero’s friend Chelsea Peretti of Brooklyn Nine-Nine interview her. They discussed the longest vacation they could imagine taking, dinner-party guests, gloves, and why Leggero doesn’t own sweatpants. Enjoy!

Chelsea Peretti: Let it be known that I have not yet made it home from my road trip. I’ve just switched drivers. We have five minutes left, and I’m a huge angel. Ready? First question: Are you pumped for your special?
Natasha Leggero: [Laughs.] I’m actually kind of horrified because now I feel like I can’t do any of those jokes on the road and I have to start all over.

Right. Now, were the people of San Francisco offended by the name of the venue?
Live at Bimbo’s? [Laughs.]

Was there outrage about the word bimbo?
There was a lot of outrage. There was some protesting. One thing, though, I do regret is that I should have had the first few rows dress nice, because it was this really nice supper club, and everyone was in casual clothes, and it just looked bad.

You should have hired a stylist for the first two rows. That would have been a huge investment. 
That’s what I wanted to do. But I was thinking, what if I would have had extras who were only in tails.

There were a lot of comedy specials where they had hot women standing at bars, like fake cocktail tables onstage. You could have gone that direction. 
But, like, only tuxes and evening gowns.

You’re doing like a more high-end version of that, or more of a throwback thing.
Well, there was this guy in the front row — you know guys with those sunglasses on the back of their neck? It was like, “That’s not hot.”

No, I’m not familiar that genre of human. Okay now, I have some more questions for you that may not directly relate to the special but will help promote it, okay? Always thinking about your brand, trying to help you grow your brand, just one sister to another, just trying to help you really hit that brand hard. 
[Laughs.] By the way, if they don’t say in this interview that I’m laughing, you’re gonna sound—

No, they’ll say, “Natasha had stony silence.” Okay, so, here’s the first question outside of the others I’ve just asked you. Okay, you and I bond over our love of vacations. What’s the longest vacay you could happily go on? 
That’s a good question.

You know how comedians are always like, “I hate being offstage. I’m only happy onstage.” What’s the longest you could go in vacation mode?
I would definitely like to go on a long vacation where I didn’t perform. Well, I was just in Newport, Rhode Island, doing a house tour for my show, Another Period, and they talk about this rich couple that went on a ten-year honeymoon.

Did it end in divorce? That would be the perfect ending.
No, they came back with four kids, and they had their mansion redecorated for ten years. Ten years is probably too much.

I was very impressed that you went and researched for your show. How long were you in Rhode Island?
Only like two days. But it’s the only way I can get inspired. But to answer your question, I think that I could go for a year.

A year?! That’s like the craziest answer conceivable. I thought you were going to say a couple months.
That’s how long it takes to have a baby. Not that I’m having a baby, but, you know, I’m thinking.

Where did you grow up, again?
Rockford, Illinois. 

Rockford. Because, see, Rockford sounds sophisticated.
It’s not. It’s rated the third-worst city in America to live in.

Well, tell that to the name, because it sounds really highfalutin.
Like, there’s shootings there almost daily.

Really? They need to change the name. But what I was laughing about when I was writing these questions was thinking about how you said you had never heard of Harvard until you moved to L.A., and that the people in Rockford, the students, were groomed to work at grocery stores.

I thought that’s a fascinating piece of intel for your fans, and I’m wondering, is there anything that you miss from your previous life, or was there no looking back?
Well, I did used to work in a grocery store, and, sadly, don’t miss that. I actually remember specifically working at a grocery store and staring at the clock and just thinking, When’s my life going to start?

Did you get any perks, like free bruised peaches or day-old pastries?
I was allowed to get 20 percent off from deli items on my break.

That’s good! Did you go HAM? But there’s nothing from that way of life that you miss, or was it just all garbage?
I do have this memory of long summers with nothing to do. That was nice. You know, biking to your friend’s house and then, like—

Bagging groceries together. 

Did you guys all hang out and practice bagging groceries?
[Laughs.] My friend did work there with me. I remember one time at the grocery store, Cheap Trick is from my hometown, and the main guy was in the grocery store, and I wanted him to go through my line. So the woman who I was currently checking out, I let her have almost everything for free.

You were like, “Take it! Go!”
Yeah. [Laughs.]

That’s amazing. And did he?
Yeah. We didn’t talk or anything.

Did you look at him really seductively?
I’m not exactly sure. When you’re living in a place like that, you think kind of anything’s your ticket out.

You’re like, “Take me with you!”
A cult!

It’s like Jim Jones, the Jonestown Massacre guy. Someone passed the journalist a note. Did you write something on a grocery bag? Cheap Trick, I’ll be your opening act. Now, you throw great dinner parties, so I thought it would be an interesting thing to ask you the classic question of who would be your dream dinner-party guests of any historical period?
I remember when I read this book, I think it was about Gertrude Stein. She was hanging out with Picasso and Hemingway in Paris in the ‘20s, and she bought up all of this modern art before the people were famous. She had Picassos and Modiglianis and Matisses, and she would hang them up in her dinner party and then seat the artists so they could be facing their own artwork. She said that the parties would last ten hours because everyone just wanted to stay and admire their own art. But I think that’s pretty flattering.

I’d like for my special to be playing on your wall on a single monitor next time I come.
Your special’s great. I would do that, Chels.

But who would be your dream guest?
What if it was like, me, you, a couple of our comic friends, like maybe Moshe [Kasher], Brendon [Walsh], and then we could invite, like, Oprah.

You’re not even jumping into history. You’re just being very now-centric. It’s unlike you.
Oh, I see. Like, dead people? I guess I’d want to have, like, Oscar Wilde and Tennessee Williams.

But it would be dead people, their cadavers.
[Laughs.] And then alive Oprah, and me, you, Brendan, and Moshe.

[Laughs.] It would give us something to talk about. Oh, here’s a good question. Do you like having a donk?
A what?

A donk.
What’s a donk?

[Laughs.] What, you’ve never heard the term a donk?
Oh, like a butt?

Yeah. [Laughs.]
Do I like having a big butt? You have a big butt. I feel like if I didn’t have a big butt, we might not be friends. Do you think that’s true?

If you were really slim — no butt — I’d still hang out with you.
I do think it’s good that butts are in, though.

It’s great for girls like us.
Yeah, very good.

But what a travesty for other people. Are you wearing gloves right now?
No, I’m not wearing gloves right now. I have a new look, though, which is tan driving gloves.

Now, who sees that?
It’s just for yourself.

That’s the epitome of liberated fashion.
Yeah. Well, maybe you would take them off and hold them in your hand when you go into the shop or put money in the meter. So it’s a very subtle look.

If health and appearance were no issue, what would you be eating all day?
I would probably smoke pot, have a bottle of wine with me, and maybe potato skins.

Mmm, yes, with, like, sour cream, chives, bacon bits, cheddar.
Yeah, I think that would be pretty cool. And then also I like lobster salad.

Yeah, that fits more with your nude-glove thing.
Yeah, a little bit of Rockford. A little bit of Bel-Air.

That’s a good name for your next special: A Little Bit of Rockford, Little Bit of Bel-Air.
That’s a good title.

Have you been to Bel-Air?
Yes, I’ve been to Bel-Air. Not impressed. Lot of traffic. People drive like crazy people.

[Laughs.] This is a really important question. Why don’t you own sweatpants? Remember when I was trying to borrow sweatpants from you at your house? You’re like, “Oh, darling, I don’t have any!” What do you wear when you want to be cozy?
Remember, I ended up giving you a robe to take home? [Laughs.]

Yeah, that, like, $300 robe.
Well, I’m four-eleven, and I don’t look good in sweatpants. I don’t really look good in casual clothes. So I’m more of like, a kimono, more of a sundress-that-you-can-also-wear-to-bed kind of person. Maybe one day I’ll get some.

Chelsea Peretti Talks to Natasha Leggero