Actress, comedian, cartoon voice artist, and sex manual author Kristen Schaal relishes in freaking you out. Whether it’s supposedly abandoning a comedy set mid-special, being a horse, channeling Darth Vader, stalking New Zealanders, or just being her own, Kristen Schaal-wavelength self, everyone’s favorite bunny-eared agent of chaos knows that hilarity and the heebie-jeebies are uncomfortably close cousins. Maybe that’s why she brought a robotic cat toy onto her Monday interview with Conan O’Brien, or maybe—because her 2-year-old daughter thinks the thing is creepy as hell and Schaal therefore has to keep it in her car—the thing just sort of tagged along. We may never know. But, as O’Brien expressed his admiration for Schaal’s eerily independent animatronic companion as just the ticket to liven up some of the duller celebrity interviews along the way, the escapee from the uncanny valley kept right on upstaging Schaal. Which isn’t easy to do. Maybe it’s all the close-ups. Where it’s watching, always watching.
Look, nobody’s saying that the little monster isn’t a marvel of engineering, or that its actual intended purpose—providing companionship for elderly Alzheimer’s patients who can no longer care for an actual cat with a soul—isn’t a noble one. But you just try watching the thing seem to react to everything Schaal, Conan, and Andy Richter say—she’s there, technically, to promote her role supporting Dave Bautista in My Spy, opening stateside on March 14—and not feel like the singularity has already occurred and it’s making its move through our pets. Hell, after the coronavirus-averse Schaal leaves Conan hanging (she did give Conan and Andy hello butt-bumps), damned if it didn’t look like the “cat” didn’t reach out to offer Conan’s still-extended hand a high-five. Sure, sure, the thing is programmed to respond to certain stimuli with pre-programmed, creepily cat-esque responses (it meowed, blinked, and shifted on Schaal’s lap at will throughout the interview), but that’s just what the robots want you to think, isn’t it?