Ana Gasteyer on her favorite SNL characters, Larry David, and Suburgatory

Ana Gasteyer on her favorite SNL characters, Larry David, and Suburgatory

Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.

The actor: Ana Gasteyer’s first efforts as an on-camera actor included a handful of one-off TV roles in series both comedic (Seinfeld) and dramatic (NYPD Blue), but her career turned decidedly in the direction of the former when her training as a member of the Groundlings helped her secure a spot in the cast of Saturday Night Live. Since leaving SNL, Gasteyer has managed to find a balance that allows her to shift between movies, television, and the theater. Although fans of Suburgatory continue to anxiously await the arrival of the ABC series’ third season, where Gasteyer plays the domineering and controlling Sheila Shay, she can also be seen in the ensemble of the indie film Geography Club, now playing in theaters as well as on VOD.

Geography Club (2013)—“Mrs. Toles”
Ana Gasteyer: They reached out to me, which was really nice of them. Frankly, it wasn’t like the role was the most exciting. It was a quirky teacher, which is always comfortable territory. But I love the subject area. I’ve got a pre-teen or ’tween or whatever you want to call it, so anything that’s opposed to bullying and about the outsider fitting in is appealing to me, just in terms of fodder for talk.

The A.V. Club: Given the film is based on Brent Hartinger’s book, how much flexibility did you have with the character in terms of ad-libbing? 

AG: They were great about it, actually. I mean, the role is very small, but they were really great about it. The nice thing is, I think when they have somebody like me play a part, I guess they know they’re going to have a little bit more fun. Obviously it’s a very loving, supportive, and groovy teacher character, but we were allowed to play with that a little bit and have fun with the lines. Nobody was hyper-precious about the language or anything like that. 

AVC: Plus, you got to go barefoot.

AG: And I got to go barefoot, yeah. Which is always a pleasure. Especially in the summertime in L.A. [Laughs.] Nobody wants to overheat!

Dare (2009)—“Ruth Berger”
AVC: When it comes to these smaller films, are they generally pitched to you in the same manner as Geography Club, where they come looking for you specifically?

AG: They usually come looking for me, but with that said, I’m always open to doing them because in the indie world you’re allowed to step out of what people might see you as otherwise. I mean, I’ve done a ton of theater work and dramatic work, but nobody really knows me that way. They mostly know me as Crazy Wig And Glasses Lady. [Laughs.] And that’s fine. That’s my stock-in-trade. But little movies like Dare and Geography Club, I think they’re very sweet, very personal films, and I get to play somebody a little more real, even if it’s kind of the wacky teacher, it’s a real wacky teacher, as opposed to Miss Fishsticks or whatever you want to call her. So there’s an opportunity to play somebody slightly more in the real world. Which is a nice opportunity, just artistically. 

I’ve worked on stage a lot, and I have a management company that works with a fair amount of actually-not-embarrassing actors. [Laughs.] And they were very heavily involved with helping put the cast [of Dare] together, so they managed to get me in to be seen for it. It was just a really sweet, touching coming-of-age movie about finding your way into who you really are. And it was an amazing cast. Emmy Rossum, Zach Gilford, and all kinds of great, talented people were in it. I was excited to be a part of it. 

The New Adventures Of He-Man (1990)—production assistant
AVC: In attempting to go as far back as possible, there’s a credit for you on IMDB that I need to confirm is accurate.

AG: God almighty…

AVC: Were you really a production assistant on The New Adventures Of He-Man?

AG: Oh, my God! Was that really on IMDB? That’s so funny. Yeah, I was! That was one of my first day jobs when I moved to L.A. Yeah, it’s where I learned about animation. I had to count the number of times that each character that there were action figures made of were in each script. [Laughs.] I was, like, the office P.A. It was fun. It was a total hook-up job from a fellow Northwestern grad, and it was lucky. It just paid the bills, for sure.

AVC: Did you have any particular interest in animation, or was it just a matter of wanting to be in the business?

AG: No, it was just a matter of not being hungry. [Laughs.] I’ve actually done voiceover work since the beginning of my career, though, because I got lucky, in that somebody else I also went to college with was a commercial voiceover agent and brought me in really early for commercial work. So I’ve always done commercials, but animation is only something I’ve done very recently. I did a lot of animation on Saturday Night Live. A lot of Robert Smigel and Andrew Steele stuff. You know, The Ambiguously Gay Duo and all those. But in terms of actually making a living on it? No. Especially not the ’90s, when I first moved to L.A. It was a very rarified, not-celebrity-driven craft. It was, like, old-school Warner Bros. voices. There were about 15 people who had every job, so I never even assumed that I could do it. Which is sort of funny. So it was that job and waiting tables. 

AVC: So what led you into acting in the first place?

AG: It’s the most boring answer in the world, which every actor always says, but it was just the first thing I realized I could actually do without screwing it up. [Laughs.] I was a really good violinist, and I was in a very not-theater-y world. My mother’s an artist, but she’s a fine artist. She’s not a performer in any way. And we knew actors from the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., so I kind of knew that. But I also knew that I would have to find my own version of it, which I did. Luckily, I went to Northwestern, where improv kind of played a big part, being so close to Chicago and everything. I found the comedy people, and I realized that was what I did better than other things. But, yeah, definitely in high school I knew that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. There was no question about what I wanted to be. 

AVC: So when you were playing P.A. on He-Man, did that parallel when you were in the Groundlings?

AG: Yeah. Well, my very first paid job as an actor was in high school. I was in the children’s chorus at the Washington Opera. That was, like, my first professional paycheck. But then my first real, like, post-college job was that I was in The Real Live Brady Bunch national tour. So we drove around on the bus with Davy Jones of the Monkees—may he rest in peace—playing himself, needless to say. There were a few episodes that we did, and we would do live, exact stage performances of The Brady Bunch. I played Alice. An early born mugger. [Laughs.] And we just toured around and lived on a bus. It was incredibly fun, and I did that for, whatever, five or six months. 

So I’d go away and do things like that and come back, but I’d always stay involved in the Groundlings. Kathy Griffin actually told me to be in the Groundlings. We did an audition together, an improv audition, and she was like, “I don’t know why you’re not in the Groundlings. You’re an idiot if you’re not. You’ll never get seen.” Because I was coming from Northwestern, I didn’t know that many other people who were in the Groundlings, and it was a very, like, Second City-cool, long-form improv crowd. But the Groundlings totally changed my life. It was great. 

Seinfeld (1995)—“Woman”
NYPD Blue (1996)—“Angie”
AVC: So was Seinfeld your first onscreen appearance as an actor, or is there something else hidden in the archives?

AG: I did some tiny independent films and stuff like that. But, yes, my first recognizable role was on Seinfeld

AVC: Your big moment involved being told to get out by the Soup Nazi, even though you hadn’t actually done anything. 

AG: Yes! A very iconic episode, as it turned out. I also did NYPD Blue right around the same time, or not long after. You’re always looking for signposts when you get started, and back in the day we used to call them under-fives. They were literally five lines or smaller, and they were, like, the sign that you had chosen the right career. It was fantastic. I like anything with a live audience. I love sitcom work. I hope it comes back in fashion one of these days, because I really love it. I love single-camera work, too, but in a different way than that live-audience thing, which is really exciting. 

Meet The Deedles (1998)—“Mel”
AG: Oh, Jesus. Yeah, that was my real, like, studio movie… and probably the first time I thought, “I should stick to television.” [Laughs.] 

I mean, there’s a lot of goofy studio comedies. They’re hard to get parts in, but there’s so much goofy called for in every moment of them. Yeah, I’ve been in a few of those. [Laughs.] Every now and again I’ll get a residual for that one and make myself laugh. 

What Women Want (2000)—“Sue Cranston”
AG: You know what’s great about that one? It’s that it was two solid weeks of work for, like, three lines, because it was a boardroom scene and it was [directed by] Nancy Meyers, who’s evidently super-famous for doing multiple takes. That’s not an embarrassing movie at all. I actually like that movie. I think it’s a really solid comedy, and it did really well. It made a lot of money, which is always a joy to be a part of. But the other thing is that it was just, like, one big hangout with Mel Gibson. So now whenever anyone talks trash about him, I can say, “I know him!” And, honestly, he was fantastic. He’s a total pro. Those guys who are huge movie stars, they know how to work a set and hang with people and do bits, and there’s not the kind of ego that leaves you hanging high and dry. We were there very long days, and I was in a very small role, and he still hung around to read his line to me from the other side of the camera. A lot of movie stars don’t do that, astonishingly, so they get credit when they do. 

AVC: That’s interesting that you say that. Sam Elliott made the same observation about working with Jimmy Stewart.

AG: Really?

AVC: He said he’d actually put on his full regalia just to read a line off-camera.

AG: Yeah, it’s a true symbol of flexibility and professionalism in this day and age. It’s fun to watch a true-blue movie star at work. They’re really unbelievably charismatic. They understand camera angles… I mean, I’ve been working for almost 20 years, and half the time I have no idea where I was holding my cup in the last take. [Laughs.] There are different kinds of actors, and movie actors tend to be exceedingly precise and mechanical in a way that’s really admirable for me to watch. You always learn from them. 

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Rapture-Palooza (2013)—“Mrs. Lewis”
AG: Super fun. I had the best time. I mean, I had to sob, like, the entire movie. But John Michael Higgins is one of my absolute favorite comedians in the world, and I got to play opposite him. Everybody in that movie is really funny. I hope it has a life sometime, because it kind of went away really quickly. But it was really fun. And shot on a shoestring in 20 minutes flat. [Laughs.] Which is always great. I always love that “you bring a costume and I’ll bring some lemonade” mentality. 

Law & Order (1998)—“Monica’s social worker”
The Good Wife (2010-2013)—“Judge Patrice Lessner”
AVC: You mentioned that you did an episode of NYPD Blue, but you also did an episode of Law & Order, which makes you a real New York actor.

AG: Absolutely! And I’ve also been on The Good Wife. Those are the tentpoles of the working New York actor. If you haven’t done those, you need to move to L.A. [Laughs.] You have no business being here. All of them are really great, but the best has probably been The Good Wife, just because they’ve had me back so many times and I’ve had a few chances up to bat to play somebody a little more serious, if quirky. 

NYPD Blue, I think I was a rape victim, so it was all drama—no funnies there at all—and I was really excited about it, except that I think the credits came up over my face, which is always a great moment when the family’s gathered around to hear your one line on your big drama show. So maybe that was a sign from the heavens to stick to the comedy. And Law & Order was just a ton of walking. I just remember the blocking. Those parts are all business. You’re conveying huge amounts of information very quickly. And I had files and file drawers, and it was terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. I had to walk a lot, shuffle through and look through files, sit at my desk and stand up from my desk, and walk some more. And I’m only in, like, 20 seconds of the show! But it was still that much blocking, because that’s all they do. They walk and talk. “Let me talk to you, Detective.” [Laughs.] 

AVC: As someone who’s worked in the theater, it must’ve been a thrill to work with Jerry Orbach.

AG: Oh, totally! Except at that point, I hadn’t really done much theater. I was terrified. It was, like, my first year in New York, I had to go to the Brooklyn Courthouse, and I had no idea where I was going. Now I live two blocks from there. [Laughs.] So it was very intimidating, especially because, if you’ve worked in L.A., it’s sort of soft around the edges. There are soundstages, but they’re all on big lots. You park and a little van drives you, and it’s all very comforting and easy. Here it’s just like, “Here are the keys for your one-third of a honeywagon, but we’ve got to make sure we lock it up, so please don’t leave your wallet in there.” It’s very different in New York. Everything’s just a little bit tougher and rougher and dirtier and grosser. 

Geppetto (2000)—“Sra. Giovanni”
AG: Oh, God help me… I mean, really, God help me…

AVC: That’s somewhat similar to how Drew Carey reacted when I brought it up.

AG: [Laughs.] Was it really? I mean, to be truthful, I did it, and it’s one of those great moments of an agent and logic where you allow yourself to be flattered into something. I’ve been a singer, I’ve played Elphaba (in Wicked), I’ve sung a ton in Broadway shows, and that’s my whole other life. I have a nostalgia nightclub jazz album—we call it moxie jazz—coming out in February called I’m Hip, and I’m really excited about it. But, anyway, in that moment, I allowed myself to be swayed when they said, “They really want to work with you because they know you sing. Now, you’re not going to sing in this… but you get to have two lines!” I’m like, “What am I doing?” It was a non-singing, non-dancing role in a musical! But I just allowed myself to go for it because my agent said it was a good idea. 

Passion (2007)—“Fosca”
AVC: As far as your theater work goes, Elphaba is arguably your most high-profile effort, but do you have a particular performance that you’re the most proud of?

AG: Okay, this is the weirdest one of all, or certainly one of them, but it was fantastic, and it was probably the best reviews of my career in anything I’ve ever done, and that was Stephen Sondheim’s show Passion, which I did in Chicago. It was probably the height of my dramatic work between Saturday Night Live and Suburgatory. I did it about three or four years before Suburgatory, at Chicago Shakespeare [Theater], and it’s an incredibly beautiful piece of music and a really dark musical. It’s not cute or funny at all. And I think it was a sort of “what is happening?” situation. In fact, The Wall Street Journal was like, “I’ve never been less prepared to see a given actress in a role.” [Laughs.] But he went on to be very nice about it, and it was a great production. I was really proud to be in it. 

Celebrity Ghost Stories (2011)—herself 
AVC: So how does one end up on Celebrity Ghost Stories? Do they just go trolling to various publicists and agents and ask, “Hey, have you got any clients who’ve seen a ghost?”

AG: Well, sort of, I guess. They track stuff down. I had worked at the Oriental Theater, which is a notoriously haunted theater in Chicago, so I think they knew that. And they asked me if I had anything about it, and I actually sort of had a story that I, uh, decided to augment for cash. [Laughs.]

AVC: There’s some awesomely dramatic text that accompanies your story. (“For Saturday Night Live veteran Ana Gasteyer, what began as a routine performance of the hit musical Wicked… turned into the most terrifying show of her life.”) 

AG: They do a really good job, though. I watched all of the re-enactors, and it’s all… it’s good how they do it. It’s fun, it’s kind of spooky, and we’re big on Halloween around here, so I decided to go for it. 

Dick (1999)—“Rose Mary Woods”
AG: Very early film role. Don’t remember much, except for Michelle Williams was great. It was a really good cast. [Hesitates.] This is making me really depressed about my résumé.  

AVC: I’m very sorry. 

AG: [Laughs.] That’s all right. It’s not your fault!

Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical (2005)—“Mae Coleman”
AG: Talk about going from soup to nuts! What a fantastic experience. It was great. I mean, what more could you want? It was a period movie with dancing, singing, amazing music… and with Steven Weber, who I just think is hilarious and gifted beyond words, and a great cast. And a great part! All of it was fun. Andy Fickman knows his material really well. They had done it off-Broadway and in L.A., so they knew the piece really well, and they were still willing to let me make it my own. So I got the best of their experience, plus I got to add my own two cents.

It’s kind of become a little bit of a cult thing. In fact, I just received a picture of myself as Bloody Mae today! Because around Halloween time, people get a little excited. My only regret about that movie is that it was never released as an actual movie movie. It was actually shot to be seen as a massive Hollywood musical, as opposed to on the small screen. It just looks fantastic when you see it. We first saw it at Sundance, where it premiered, and it just looks fantastic on the big screen. Andy really dedicated himself to the styles, the Busby Berkeley and the torch song, and he knew exactly what he was doing in terms of parody. I think he’s really, really talented.

AVC: Was there any role other than Mae that you’d like to have taken a shot at?

AG: No, I had the best role for me. I had the perfect role. There’s not one thing I would’ve wanted to do differently… well, except I wish I’d known how to tap dance a little bit more for that last number, if I could go back in time. But that’s about it.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (2011)—“Jennifer”
AG: Larry David… [Starts to laugh.] I think the last time I’d ever seen him was when he cast me in the Soup Nazi episode, and he didn’t even remember that was me! His stories from Saturday Night Live are fantastic, and he’s just a completely hilarious human being to be around. Really engaging and compelling. The other thing is that Larry Charles directed me in one of those two episodes, and David Mandel and Alec Berg were the writers. Everybody there is just so talented. And outrageous. Those guys are legendary from SNL days, and they’re just unbelievable at what they do. For an improv show, it’s crafted so perfectly. It’s outlined within an inch of its life. And it was a great experience. I loved it. Plus, it was in New York, so that was super-convenient. 



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Mean Girls (2004)—“Cady’s mom”
AVC: Speaking of improv, your husband on Mean Girls had a pretty solid background in that field: Neil Flynn.

AG: Neil’s the best. I had such a nice time working with him. I work really well on a team. That’s what I like doing the best. So when I have the good fortune of being paired with somebody, it just makes life easier and more fun and more natural and all of that. It’s like when I work with Chris Parnell on Suburgatory: it’s all very organic and not anxious, which just makes the whole process more fun.

AVC: And how was it working with Lindsay Lohan?

AG: It was great. It was before Lindsay was Lindsay, you know? [Laughs.] She was just a super-talented, exceedingly beautiful 17-year-old with a ton of talent. She was fantastic in the movie, and it’s still popular. That movie made her a star. She was really, really good in it. 

Suburgatory (2011-present)—“Sheila Shay”
AVC: Suburgatory was your first full-time series gig since Saturday Night Live. Was that something you’d been looking for, or did it just kind of happen?

AG: I was ready to do a series. It had been awhile, and [television’s] different, it’s fast, it’s lucrative, it’s fun, and it’s hard to get! So I was very delighted to have the opportunity. I had what was a very unusual fairytale experience, of meeting Emily Kapnek and having her say, “Listen, if you do my pilot, I promise you there’s a big part in there for you.” In the pilot, I watered the lawn and I waved. Literally, that’s it. All my little Brooklyn mom friends were, like, “Oh, my God, what’s Jeremy Sisto like?” And I was, like, “I don’t know, because I was across the street from him the entire week.” Or two days, or whatever. I literally watered the lawn and waved at him.

But then they got picked up, and Emily said, “Hey, I have a huge part for you, like I said!” And so I was like, “Okay!” Then that was a seven-week recurring part, during which she said, “Listen, if we get a back nine with this series, I’m giving you a series-regular role. I couldn’t do it at the pilot point.” And sure enough, they did: The minute she got the back nine, I got the offer for the series-regular role. It was sort of like, A) No show runner ever keeps their word like that, in my experience, and B) I feel like the part… [Hesitates.] I don’t know how to articulate this without sounding like a jerk, but that part exists a lot. I’ve read for it a lot, the sort of uptight Martha Stewart across the street and so on. And I’ve played Martha Stewart; it’s just sort of the comic go-to. Not the leading lady. It’s often very limited and very limiting, and there’s not a lot really happening except for a rigid, hyperbolic caricature. 

But as wacky as the Shays are, there’s so much happening in the Shay family. There’s so much relational comedy, there’s so much about my marriage, there’s so much about my life as a mother, there’s so much about my history. It’s all really rich, fun comedic territory that I feel like, in other situations, would not have been mined. I just would’ve been a nosy, prying bitch across the street. And it’s just been an unbelievable experience as a result. I truly love it. I really love the show, I think the writing’s really sharp, I think it has a lot of warmth, and I love the kids on my show. I love Allie Grant, the girl who plays my daughter. I obviously love Chris Parnell, as I said earlier, I’m better in a team. Chris is an amazing tennis player who makes me play better tennis, basically. Allie is, too, and Parker Young, who comes and goes as our son, is as well. It’s just really fun to be a part of that cast, because there’s no weak link.

We just watched the first four episodes of the new season, because we’re going to be coming in mid-season this year, and it’s kind of weird, because you’re shooting and you don’t actually get a glimpse of what you’re doing. It’s weird in television, because you’re used to that immediacy where, in about three or four weeks, you’re like, “Oh, look, episode one is already on!” So we sat down and watched the first four as a cast with Emily, and we’d all started to get a little worried, wondering, “What are we doing? Are we playing the same people we were playing last year?” But it’s awesome. I just felt so proud to be part of this ensemble, because I think it’s a really good group of performers, and I think the writing’s really funny and really sharp and really weird… in a great way. It’s not really like anything else on TV, which I, for one, find refreshing. I mean, at least in a half-hour comedy, anyway. I think there’s a lot of the same out there, and I definitely don’t feel like Suburgatory is the same.

AVC: I think it’s fair to say that quite a few people at The A.V. Club cheered for joy when the show got picked up for a third season.

AG: Well, that’s nice to hear. You guys have been really nice to us at The A.V. Club. We don’t get a lot of big mainstream support. It’s been really kind of under the radar. But that’s also got its own virtues: We just do our work and have a good time, and as long as we keep airing, we’ll be happy. I love it. I love Sheila. I think she’s ridiculous and fun, and she’s so judgmental. It’s really fun to live in those clothes every week, because she’s absolutely the most overconfident, entitled-to-her-opinion person. And I feel like a lot of people know people like her, which is nice. [Laughs.] It’s sort of shocking how many people say, “Oh, my God, I totally know Sheila Shay!” I’m like, “Sorry! Sorry to hear it.”

Chuck (2010)—“Dasha”
AG: Playing a bad guy on Chuck? I mean, c’mon! It’s so weird, though, because you get these offers, you read the part, and I think half the time they’re hoping that you’ll bring something to it, but then you don’t. You just come in, you read the part, and you feel like you failed. But Chuck was great, because I got to play this terrifying assassin! We had to do a bank robbery. I had to shoot guns… It was all very exciting. I use Dasha as my avatar on Instagram, so you know it’s meaningful. [Laughs.] She had scars and stuff on her face. She was scary!

AVC: Are you hoping there’s an action film in your future?

AG: Oh, God, I hope so! They work hard, those people. That’s the thing: The hours are long and the stunt work is crazy, but it’s engaging and interesting and fun. On Chuck, we had the whole fight on an airplane and it was crazy. Crazy and fun.

Saturday Night Live (1996-2002)—cast member
AVC: The obligatory opening question with SNL is to ask how you made your way into the cast in the first place. 

AG: Well, if you’re an improv comedian, it’s hard not to dream of being on SNL. But they were looking for women the year after the big casting explosion of ’95, and Will Ferrell actually recommended me… recommended a bunch of women from the Groundlings. We sent in tapes, and they liked mine. Then I flew out and auditioned and got cast. That’s how it went. 

AVC: How intimidating was the audition?

AG: Terrible. Absolutely terrifying! I can’t even believe I survived a single minute of the entire show in retrospect. But I managed to. 

AVC: How long did it take you to feel like you’d found your footing in the cast?

AG: I knew when I did “Martha Stewart’s Topless Christmas.” I was very fortunate. I had a lot of characters recur very quickly off the show, the NPR girls, and I did a few things pretty early on, [Weekend] Update features, characters that recurred a few times. But in terms of a piece that I just felt the audience lock in and get it, and the Internet liked it, with “Martha Stewart’s Topless Christmas,” there was no doubt that that kind of won over anyone who was doubtful. 

AVC: Recurring characters become albatrosses. Was there any point where you went, “Oh, I can’t believe this is recurring”?

AG: No, I’m not that academic or writerly. I actually like character work, so for me, generally speaking, I enjoyed it. It’s a little bit more of a comfortable suit you put back on. You can explore it and have fun with it and push the limits of it. Writers tend to hate recurring characters; there’s this writer snob thing about it. But I don’t have that. I feel like the challenge is always to find a cool and innovative way to do it and, obviously, to not repeat your jokes. But I like playing the same person over and over again. I’ve done shows for over a year on Broadway, and I never get bored. 

AVC: Is there any sketch that didn’t make it on the air that you always wished had?

AG: Well, there was a character that I really love… Again, sort of esoteric, and I completely understand why, but her name was Deandra Wells, and she aired maybe twice. I have a huge portrait of her in my house, which makes me laugh. We went to see a Diana Ross concert for VH-1, and it was kind of loosely inspired or based on the hyper-narcisisstic diva thing. She sort of lived somewhere between Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross, and she was always talking about love with the audience but was phenomenally bitchy to her band. It was so much fun to do. I think we did it twice on the air. Conan O’Brien did one, and I can’t remember who wrote the other one, but it was always just incredibly fun. I wish we could’ve done her more.  

Generally speaking, though, it’s kind of amazing when I look back. When Will Ferrell hosted a couple of years ago, I went back and did Bobby and Marti, the music teachers, with him, and Paula Pell, the writer with whom we worked on all of them, said, “Do you know this is one of the most recurring of all the characters ever on SNL?” And I had no idea. It might’ve been right behind “Wayne’s World.” I think “Wayne’s World” was the one with the heaviest rotation, if I’m recalling correctly. But it never felt like that at the time. I always enjoyed it. It’s familiar territory in a really unfamiliar environment. You’re always moving quickly there.

AVC: Has it been odd meeting people who you’ve impersonated on the show?

AG: Oh, yeah. It’s always phenomenally weird. Terribly so. 

AVC: Has any one been weirder than the others?

AG: No, I mean, they’re all pretty gracious. People know enough to know that if you’ve been parodied on SNL, it’s a high compliment. It’s like some form of flattery. But with that said, we were pretty vicious about a lot of people. I always tried not to be too mean, but my problem is that the people I tend to find hilarious don’t usually have senses of humor. So interacting with them is a little bit of an awkward engagement, because I can’t really make them laugh, on top of which I’ve been doing an impression of them. Anyway, they’re all kind of funny in their own way. Celine Dion did not understand the joke at all, but she understood that it was nice and just was hilarious in general about it. She had me do her A&E Biography! It was crazy. And then Martha Stewart I’ve met several times, and I kind of love Martha Stewart. I admire her tremendously. But she definitely was, uh, not amused. [Laughs.] We were mean, but, you know, there was a lot to make fun of there!