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Paula Pell on SNL, All That, and the Tammy scenes we never saw on Parks And Recreation

Paula Pell on SNL, All That, and what we never saw on Parks And Recreation
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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: Random Roles’ bread and butter may be the character actor, but there’s also much to love and admire about the people who created those beloved characters. Paula Pell is one of those creators. A writer for Saturday Night Live for almost 25 years, Pell helped create the Spartan cheerleaders, Marty and Bobbi Mohan Culp, Debbie Downer, and Gilly, and brought us all down to “Omeletteville,” “Veganville,” and “Liquorville” with Justin Timberlake. She’s also written for numerous award shows and 30 Rock, and penned the 2015 Tina Fey-Amy Poehler vehicle Sisters.

But that’s not to discount Pell’s work in front of the camera, which includes scene-stealer roles on Parks And Recreation, A.P. Bio, Love, Big Mouth, and in the “Co-Op” episode of Documentary Now, where she belted out the Elaine Stritch-aping “I Gotta Go.”

Pell’s latest project—the Quibi series Mapleworth Murders, which she co-created with 30 Rock pal John Lutz—has been her ultimate labor of love. Pell stars as Abigail Mapleworth, a nattily attired and wildly judgmental small town detective, a la Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote. She’s joined throughout by a cast of seemingly hundreds of well-known comedy pals like Nicole Byer, Tina Fey, and Maya Rudolph, most of whom (spoiler alert) suffer arcane deaths that only Mapleworth can solve.

The A.V. Club talked to Pell about her life both in front of and behind the scenes, from her years in Orlando making guest appearances on kiddie shows like All That and The Mickey Mouse Club to her role in A.P Bio, which was renewed for a surprise third season soon to drop on the Peacock streaming service.

Mapleworth Murders (2020)—”Abigail Mapleworth”

The A.V. Club: Where did the character of Abigail Mapleworth originate and how did you develop her many, many quirks?

Paula Pell:I was born as that character quite honestly, and I’ve just played different variances of her.

Really, she came about because of John Lutz. He and I had worked together for years on SNL and he’s one of the funniest people on earth. He called me and just said, “What if we did a comedy homage to Murder, She Wrote?” And I said yes immediately without him even telling me more. He was saying that I could play a Jessica Fletcher type, and we ended up deciding that she’s gay but that she’s still a spinster and she just shares expenses with women sometimes. The more we talked about it, it was just immediately something we both wanted to do so badly. Luckily, Seth Myers and Mike Shoemaker produced it for Broadway Video.

We just have such a circle of family and friends in our business that’ve worked together so long that we came together very organically to do it. And then we found this home at Quibi. At first, they didn’t even know what Quibi was gonna actually be, at the time when we were first pitched it. I mean, they had basics, but it just ended up being kind of the perfect place, because we can do three episodes in a row, and that it’s almost like the three acts of a little half hour procedural.

It’s just turned out to be such a fun part. I love Abigail. When we were shooting, I loved the clothes. It just reminded me so much of some of my older relatives that would always no matter what wear their cute little scarf and a little lipstick. It was so up my alley. I love trench coats, and we got all sorts of colored trench coats. And so it turned out to be really a complete and utter joy romp.

AVC: I don’t know that you have a “style of comedy,” per se, but it seems like a lot of characters you write have very specific quirks, or just little throw-away jokes that really linger over time. Does that ring true to you?

PP: Yeah. I love when characters pronounce things strangely. There was a woman that took care of my grandma in her home for a while that at the end of every sentence would say “and that stuff and that,” like it was a Midwestern thing. She’d be like, “Oh my God, I go over to Target and that stuff and that,” and “sometimes they get a sun dress and that stuff and that,” and my family would never believe me. And then we went to my grandma’s funeral and the woman came up and it was like, “Oh, Helen was just so sweet and that stuff and that.”

When we would write sketches, the joy would always be asking, “What’s the funny little hook?” The fun thing is once you start writing more series television or movies, you can write scenes where you see under all of that weirdness and you know why, or you figure out things about them. I loved in Mapleworth being able to show how she’s in the spa with her little waxing strips everywhere. I like seeing different versions of characters. And obviously, there’s a little topless moment in Mapleworth. I don’t know if you saw that part.

AVC: I just got nine eps, so I don’t think so.

PP: Oh, well, spoiler on that.

AVC: Speaking of spoilers, the show’s packed with a real cavalcade of comedy stars. And a lot of them just pop in and out for moments, and that’s it.

PP: It’s very reminiscent of that era of television that I used to love so much of Love Boat and Fantasy Island and all those shows… Even Law & Order. You watch Law & Order and it’s like, “Oh my God, that’s so and so.” They’re huge movie stars now, or sports stars, or people that you just can’t even wrap your brain around the fact that they’re just in this episode with Mariska [Hargitay] and she’s looking at them and they’re crying and saying that they did something horrible.

I love the guest star. I really grew up on it. I used to watch the Jerry Lewis telethon and I would watch the entire two days of it and not sleep. It was like my personal marathon. I didn’t run, but that was my marathon. I would train for it. I’d stay up all night half the summer and then watch that entire thing. And I loved it because suddenly Frank Sinatra would walk on and sing a song. And Jerry Lewis would always say some tearful thing about how he and Dean Martin hadn’t spoken in years, and then all of a sudden Dean walks on at three o’clock in the morning and they both cry and then they sing a song. I’m sure it was all planned. But I’m a sucker for a walk on of something.

At SNL, we did that so much. We loved imagining like, “Oh my God, what if Robert de Niro walks into the scene?” What if on [Weekend] Update, somebody just walks on that you’re talking about that’s a huge star or Obama or whatever. It would just be such a thrill to do that.

I just love having those unexpected moments. I like including the musical group [in Mapleworth] that’s so strange and then you’re kind of looking at them with the blond wigs on you’re like, “wait, is that Andy Samberg?” It’s just fun to have those surprises.

AVC: It must be fun for the actors too to come in for a day or however long, make goofy faces, and stretch in ways they don’t always get to.

PP: Yeah, everyone had so much fun doing this because it was broad. It’s fun to just do something really broad, because a lot of times you do these very grounded things and they’re, quite frankly, sometimes a little bit more boring than the quiet, witty, funny stuff to play as an actor. Sometimes it’s really fun to be quiet, and sometimes you just want to put away the gun and come out and chase a vibrator down the street.

AVC: Or in the case of Jack McBrayer in his role, repeatedly get sprayed in the face with mouth wine.

PP: Jack is a real good sport. We came up with that idea and we were like, “Oh no, it’ll all be faked and everything.” And then by the end, I think he was just like, “Yeah, just spit it out.”

Saturday Night Live (1995—2013, with some one-offs after)—Writer

AVC: I read that when you entered into conversations about joining SNL, you thought they were interested in you as a performer, but that ultimately you were hired as a writer. How did you find your groove there?

PP: You know, I didn’t ever think I was going to be a performer, except when they called and told my agent, “We saw her on this tape. Lorne [Michaels] wants to meet her.” I just assumed, because I was performing at Disney and at Universal Studios then, and I truly had only done that. I was in my twenties, I got my theater degree, and I was in a bunch of plays. That’s all I ever did. You know? So when they were saying, “come meet Lorne Michaels,” and I was a huge SNL fan, I just assumed that it was to perform or something. It was blowing my freaking mind, but then the minute they called for the logistics of it, they were like, “Well, this is not an audition. He just wants to meet you.” And I was like, “What the hell does that mean?”

It was very nerve wracking because it was my dream place. I didn’t feel prepared and I didn’t know the game. Once I got there and realized they were looking for a writer, then a tiny part of me was dying inside because I’d never called myself a writer, even though I’d written my whole life, and written short stories, and written my own characters that I performed a lot of the times. Those were the ones they saw on that tape.

So many times, with writing, people don’t allow themselves to be called a writer. It’s like, “No, I’m not worthy of that, and I am afraid to say that.” You’re worried someone is going to say, “I just looked at your writing and you’re not a writer,” or, “I looked at your paintings and you’re not an artist.” It’s that fear of being a sham and being called out on it.

I’m sure women have it more than men, for sure. “Oh, I’m not good.” I was trying to literally talk them out of hiring me. And then I finally just took the ride. My mom was like, “What’s the worst case scenario?” I said, “Go to my dream place and fail, then devastate my life.” She said, “Just go and have fun and experience it. And you can always say that you did a few months there and it didn’t work out, or whatever.” And then I got there and there were so many like-minded people that were acting. And so many of those actors loved my type of humor about those sort of joyful-loser characters, like the [Spartan] cheerleaders or Marty and Bobbi Culp.

I really found my groove doing characters, which was always my absolute favorite thing to write. Since I was little, I was always doing bits as a character. I’d throw on glasses or fake teeth or whatever. When I was little, I used to do this bit with my beagle puppy where I would take potato chips and break them up all over the carpet, and I would take the beagle and hold her with the tail straight. And I would vacuum it up and do a commercial for the Beagle-Matic, and my relatives would all slap their laps and sit on the couch and laugh and eat potato salad.

So, I just found that at SNL, and then we could all laugh all night. Before I started, I thought that the writers were all sitting in a library writing this stuff and then handed it to the actors saying, “I hope you like it.” But you’re writing with the actors. You’re all goofing around, laying on couches and offices at four in the morning and on your seventh Coke Classic and eating pizza and being silly. So it was perfect. It was a very much up-my-alley style of writing.

I also am a very empathic person. I’m a caretaker—well, I’m a recovering caretaker, so I’ve reined that in a lot. But that really served me well there also, because, as writers, you really do have to be part director, part psychologist. You’re walking the actor through these sketches not knowing whether they’re going to get on. It’s just a very emotional ride sometimes, and so my caretaking abilities were also very welcomed sometimes too.

AVC: You’re also hailed for writing amazing characters for women at SNL. Obviously, you’re always working with the performers you have at the time, and they make the characters their own as well, but that’s also really impressive that you could help raise these women up.

PP: I know that there have been different eras there, and I acknowledge 100 percent that some people had eras there where it did not feel like the funny rose to the top, whether you’re a man or a woman. But in my era, because we were all new, everyone kind of came in and knew that the women were just balls-out, hilariously, wonderfully funny. They were also writers, so they could write their own sketches. They were killing it. It was Molly Shannon and Cheri Oteri, and they just came in and completely took over the joint. So it never felt like, “I’m always trying to help that one female cast member to get a sketch on.” I know there were eras like that, that were terrible. But the beautiful era that I was in was just more, and more, and more women in power. Women sort of running the joint, in a lot of ways—or at the absolute least, being an equal participant in on-camera time and getting things in and being producers and deciding the show. After a few years of being there, I was in the room as one of the voices saying what we’re going to pick, and that room became more equal as well.

Also, I love writing with my friends, and a lot of times I would end up bonding with the women there so much. We would all spend so much time in each other’s lives, so to sit and write with them was just the most comfortable thing ever. And they were so fricking funny that it was easy.

AVC: Let’s talk about the Spartan Cheerleaders in particular. They were first introduced in your first year, 1995, and they’re still a mainstay in pop culture. I just saw a video the other day of parents pretending to be the Spartans and cheering their kids up during quarantine.

PP: Oh, that makes me so happy.

I think when I figured it out, it was because of the audience. If you had a recurring character and it started becoming a hit, then people knew [that character.] The first few years—well, first 10 years, really—that I was there, there were a lot of recurring characters. That was the absolute bread and butter of the place

But it’s super nerve wracking [on show night.] You do the dress rehearsal with an audience, then you have this break, then things get cut. If your thing made it, especially if it’s at the beginning of the show, you’re standing there in that dark studio with all the audience that just sat down, and then the band is playing and then it’s five, four, three, two, one. Then you talk to your cast members about your sketch and you made sure that they got their last-minute changes and everything.

[With the Spartans], once the audience—since it is 100 percent live—once the audience looked down, if they even saw their little costumes… A lot of times the show puts out a flat screen so you couldn’t see them, but if they saw them or they saw Will [Ferrell] come out in his little hair and his sweater or whatever, people would scream. It’s such a unbelievable feeling.

One very specific memory I have about that is when I used to write a boy group sketch called “7 Degrees Celsius” or at least I think that’s what it was called. It was Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Chris Kattan, and then we would have always have the male host play a boy group member. And then Will Farrell was their manager, and he had tinted glasses and he was only allowed to be 300 feet from them, so something bad had gone down.

Anyway, I would write all these boy group songs, and they were really cheesy, like “Girl, I really,” you know. And they all had different really weird facial hair, like goatees and stuff. It used to be something I used to love to write.

So, I did one when N’Sync was on as the musical guest and they said, “Oh, can you do something where N’Sync is in that sketch?” And I said, “Oh my God, I’d love to do that.” So I wrote a song where they were dressed as McDonald’s employees and they were a boy group and they sang “Hold The Pickle.” They did this really sexy dance and everything.

So we did it, and I went to the after party. I woke up the next day. We’d always sleep in, of course, ’cause we were all drunk from the after party. I woke up at about two in the afternoon and TRL was on with Carson Daly. It was down in Times Square, and N’Sync was being interviewed. And there were about a hundred girls with a banner that said, “Hold The Pickle,” and I could not compute it. I’d barely changed my clothes from the night before and I turn on the TV and I’m looking at a line that I wrote four days before, for a sketch, painted on a fricking banner all the way down in Times Square with all these girls screaming for N’Sync. That was the first time I felt the power of doing the types of characters that people would remember.

The different thing about me was, because I wasn’t on camera, no one ever knew me. So there were many times I would be sitting on a Sunday in a New York City diner and hearing someone talk about SNL last night. My ex and I would be sitting there and someone would be like like, “Oh my God, you see Debbie Downer? Oh my God, well, this happened. And this happened” and you’re just sitting there realizing that the rest of the world saw it, and it wasn’t just in the studio. It’s such a nerve-wracking experience. You’re in the studio with the music, and you forget that people sitting in their underpants are watching it at home, and then they’re going to be next to you at a diner.

AVC: I wonder about how that felt—that being behind the camera. Everyone loved Spartans, but because SNL doesn’t really define who wrote what, most people just see it as Cheri and Will, and they don’t see the writers.

PP: I was always a person who wanted to put the light on someone else. I mean, I was a ham and I loved performing, but once I got there, I got a very clear message—as we all did—that said, “You’re hired as a writer. This isn’t an audition to be a performer. We really need writers. We need people dedicated to the cast to really write amazing things for them. Because if your mind is like, ‘How can I make this work for me in terms of acting,’ it would never work. You have to really dig in and want to make them have this huge success.”

So I did that for so long, and then I just kind of very slowly, organically grew into the ability to just put my toe in the water again. I was a good, rule-following Catholic girl, but I put my toe in the water every so often when someone would say, “Do a little special guest on my show.” After people left [SNL] and I would do it, I still felt a little weird about it. I thought I was stealing their thunder, and I wasn’t at all. I was in my head, and I wasn’t allowing myself to do something I love, and have done my whole life, and got a degree in. So it’s really been a blessing to be able to come back to acting.

AVC: I notice that you were tapped to play a couple of teachers in your time at SNL, which only happens to women “of a certain age,” especially in comedy. Did that happen before you got there?

PP: You know, it’s funny. I did a couple parts on All That when I was younger. It was in Orlando, when Nickelodeon was in Orlando and Kenan [Thompson] was a little peanut. He was 12 or 11 or something. I remember sitting in the stands while he was doing another scene, because I was only in one scene with him. But I was watching him, and I said to somebody like, “He’s going to be on Saturday Night Live one day.” Now I wasn’t on Saturday Night Live, and I was in my twenties, and would never think in a million years I would end up there, but I was on All That.

Any time they asked me to come on, I was always that utility parental person that would either be a teacher or be a parent going, “Thomas!” It was just always that scold.

On Facebook, somebody recently [posted] a Mickey Mouse Club episode, which was also shot there. It’s a scene with me, and it was a commercial for Lassie. Lassie’s really annoying and barking to tell us that something’s on fire and we’re like, “Lassie, would you please stop barking?” That was the joke of it. It was a mom and dad and kids, and the teenage kid was Ryan Gosling. And I do not have a memory of shooting it, probably because I did a lot of partying when I was young.

I always played the parent. I did a bunch of lottery commercials where I played Agnes the church lady with her organ. I played this organ and said “Bingo!” and then they’d do something horrible to me.

I just played so many weird roles. I got beat up on America’s Most Wanted. Your first few years of being a working actor, you’re doing things where you’d get one line and then you’d go pay $200 for them to put it on your reel at some video place.

AVC: It’s interesting to hear that about Orlando, because I suppose there would have been a lot of work there for children’s television, given who was there.

PP: Orlando was sort of the third coast in terms of commercials. I did a lot of pretty big commercials in Miami or in different places. I would audition for Lifetime movies or different things that they would shoot in Florida. I think was connected because once they built the studios, it was like, “Well, this could be a working studio.” But they became theme-park studios more than actual shooting studios over time. But I still have so many talented, amazing friends there that have worked for years at Disney and made amazing careers as performers and singers and actors and comedians. And many of them moved out to LA and continued.

It was a good little breeding ground because it was so cheap when I left college and had no money. I went home and could afford this performing job at a theme park right out of college with a theater degree. I rented a little house and had my own new car. It was just so sweet to be a starving actor and not be starving.

Documentary Now! (2019)—”Patty”

AVC: Speaking of theater, you were in two different iterations of Documentary Now. First, the mockumentary about the Blue Jean Committee, but—perhaps most notably—you were also in the episode about the making of the musical Co-Op, and you sang a song everyone really loved.

PP: The [Blue Jean Committee] was really fun because I got to play the lady that works in the meat factory with Fred Armisen. I adore him. It was just a very quick shoot. I just came in and shot that little scene and it was done

For Co-Op... I really am an enormous theater nerd. I am an enormous nerd for Sondheim and for the musical Company. My mother played the Elaine Stritch part in Company for a community theater. My theater teacher was also a director at this wonderful community theater in our town in Illinois, and he loved my mom so much that he was like, “You’re playing Elaine Stritch.” She was 40, and she hadn’t done musicals since she was in high school, but she was so good and funny. I think I stage managed it, so I knew every line, every word. So the original documentary that we parody in Co-Op, I’m very familiar with. I’m very familiar with all the cast and all the songs.

When they wrote the songs for our show, we had to learn them so quickly. And then I knew Renée [Elise Goldsberry] from Sisters, like as that type of actor, but I didn’t really know that she was a giant Broadway star. She had been in Hamilton! It was like, “Oh Jesus.”

So I’m there with all these Broadway people, and it was such a fantasy. We worked so hard to learn the lines and learn our parts and learn our harmonies, And then we shot it and I kept feeling like they were going to be like, “Okay, well, opening night is next Thursday. We’re going to go try it in the theater!” I just wanted so badly to do it live, and just to do the whole show, to have it be real, but it was a fake documentary about a fake show that doesn’t exist.

We all laughed because we would go out every night, just like a cast does when you’re in a play—where you’re just getting to know each other so fast, and you tell each other your deepest secrets drunkenly after the third night, because you know you’re going to be doing a show for months together. And then we just finished.

We were in Portland, and it was like, “Great, great. That was fun.” But we all wanted to get in a van and travel the show back across the country.

AVC: I think that people would be thrilled if you did that, even now.

PP: Oh man, that’s my dream. I wish that [John] Mulaney and Seth [Meyers] would say, “We should finish this show off and put some more songs in and actually do it.” Even as just a benefit for something, I would be on board immediately, because Elaine Stritch is just like a goddess to me. I knew that I wasn’t going to imitate her, but I wanted to sort of channel her spirit of just being so tough on herself that God damn it... She’s so mad ’cause she wants it to be perfect, and she knew she had the ability to make it perfect.

Parks And Recreation (2011)—”Tammy Zero”

AVC: You also played a very formidable woman on Parks And Rec. Tammy Zero was a very singular personality, and had a very singular look.

PP: There were many, many layers of makeup. I think Planet Of The Apes was the only thing that took longer, in terms of the amount of makeup they put on me.

The funniest thing is that, when I look back, I’ve always played older women, always. I always have gray spray in my hair. I’d be at a cast party at like 24 years old, and you’d see this picture of me standing there at a cast party with gray spray, but I have a young face. I still have a big round face, but my skin was creamy and it just cracks me up that the older I get now, when I’m playing those characters, I come in and the makeup and hair people do that assessment where they’re going to decide what they’re going to do. They’re like, “In this, you’re going to play an old prospector, and you’re in the stream.” And then they look at me, and they’re like, “I think you’re good. I think you’re good. And you know, what you’re wearing is good too.”

It’s just always really easy now. But with Tammy Zero, they started doing all that [makeup] layering and all that craziness. It was just insanity. And we shot other scenes that I’ve never seen. I always wanted them to send it. I want the outtakes, because we shot other scenes in a car and did all this stuff where we were singing “Amazing Grace,” and all this crazy stuff.

I love Nick Offerman, so playing his his mom was just amazing. And also, Patricia Clarkson, adore her. Always have adored her. The fact that I walked in and she was going to be playing against me, and of course Amy [Poehler] is such a close friend.

That was really one of my first roles where I had a lot more lines, and a lot more of a character. It was nerve wracking to me. I used to never be afraid to act when I was younger. I used to tour playing Emily Dickinson, and we’d tour Tennessee doing some regional theater. I would do two hours on stage by myself, not afraid ever. But when I was at SNL and spent so many years not [acting], and then they’d put me on for one line on live TV, I’d be shitting my pants because I was so afraid.

It took me a few years to get back to where I could just completely relax when I’m shooting something and learn lines and not be in my head.

A.P. Bio (2018-2020)—”Helen Henry DeMarcus”

AVC: Has A.P. Bio helped you conquer that fear at all? Just doing it every day?

PP: Absolutely. It’s a huge thing that I just really let it rip on that, and got so comfortable. I’m so comfortable with Patton [Oswalt] as my person to play off of and Glenn [Howerton] and all those kids are so amazing. And the women who play the teachers are just such dolls, and darling women, and humans.

Yeah, I really let it rip with that. I think after I left SNL, I really was allowed to do more and more, or I just asserted myself to be more and more on camera.

The first time was when we did Hudson Valley Ballers, I think. My best friend Michelle Lawler is a cinematographer. She and I came up with the idea. We came to James Anderson and said, “Let’s do this.” And Lorne Michaels said, “I’ll support it with Broadway Video,” and so we did it.

That was so mom-and-pop. We put it together on our own, and shot it at my house up in the Hudson Valley. I remember that being the first time I really returned to playing a bunch of characters and acting and goofing around.

That show was batshit crazy. We were improvising a lot. It’s very scary in a way, because we had a pretty big crew and everything, and we came up with it. So if it sucked, were people going to be like, “Uh, what is this?” And James [Anderson] is my bestest, dearest friend. He and I were roommates all through college. He ended up at SNL and wrote everything Kristen Wiig or Kenan or Fred ever did.

That was really the first time where I was like, “I need to be doing this a lot more. I need to make sure that I create of the rest of my world so that I can do this.” You know, “I really need to be acting again, just because it’s so joyful. It’s made me so full of joy.” I love writing, and I love being a writer, and I love writing for other actors, but it’s more of a parental, nervous, nurturing role. And not as much when you’re the child—like, “Let’s go mess around and get paid for it.”

Big Mouth (2017-2019)—”Barbara Glouberman”

AVC: You have done voices on Big Mouth, and you were in Inside Out. How were those experiences?

PP: I love doing voiceovers. I really enjoyed it when I was younger. I used to do voiceovers for commercials sometimes. And then, when I did those lottery commercials, I would play that character on radio campaigns. So we would always do silly radio campaigns.

I love voiceovers because it’s so stripped down. I love the challenge of when someone says “do that again, but more anxious” or “do that again, but where she’s more of an asshole.” I love adjusting. That’s part of acting. I know that sounds like such actor stuff, but what I love about it is when a director would say “can you give me that?” “Can you do that, but make me more afraid of you?” I love that kind of thing. It’s so immediate, because you’re just in front of the mic and you read the line.

Also, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. You don’t have to wear any makeup. You can just pull a ponytail back. And it’s just very intimate. It’s really fun. I love it. I want to do more of it.

I’ve even thought about, at some point, doing a podcast. I know everyone’s doing a podcast, but now that we’re all alone so much, [my partner] Janine [Britto] and I have goofed around so much. We’re like, “We should do a podcast.”

Escape From Virtual Island (2020)—”Ramona”

AVC: That’s basically what Escape From Virtual Island

was, that you did for Audible. It’s a podcast, but also a story. There should be more narrative podcasts.

PP: I would love to do it. I talked to Audible when they started reaching out to people in comedy to do a lot of these new sortsof fictional series. John Lutz did the one that you’re talking about. That’s another thing [Janine and I] talked about. Could we do some sort of narrative thing? Maybe it’s two ladies back in the day that are “sharing expenses,” talking about their debts.

Super Force (1991)—”Mrs. Biloxi”

AVC: The first credit on your IMDB page is for a show called Super Force, which is described like this: “In the year 2020, an astronaut becomes a vigilante when he returns from a mission to learn his cop brother’s been murdered.” Since you were on that show, you are an expert. How much of that show has come true?

PP: That’s so funny, because it was so futuristic and about superheroes. I don’t remember exactly what I played. Maybe a council woman or a mayor. I definitely don’t think I was a superhero of any kind. I was probably just the woman who scolded Super Force. “You better get out of here!” Just all that hands on the hips business. I’ve kicked a lot of people out of my yard for stepping on my tomatoes.