Nate Dern, From UCBComedy's American Apparel, Everyday Sexy video, in HeebMagazine.comMar 4, 2015
Nate Dern: The Heeb Interview
Some of you may know Nate Dern as the lovable nerd who made it all the way to the finals on reality show Beauty and the Geek. At Heeb, we know him as the dude who played Dov Charney in that awesome Upright Citizens Brigade sketch (click on the link if you have retrograde amnesia and can't recall a post we did, like, two days ago). Dern is a razor-sharp actor, comedian, writer and video maker from Brooklyn, out to make his bones in the big city-presumably by expertly embodying Jewish douchebags. He recently talked with Heeb about Charney, his reality TV days and deep-neck Vs.
You recently appeared as Dov Charney in an Upright Citizens Brigade sketch. What did you do to get into character?
I watched videos of Dov online. I watched one called Chasing Dov about 50 times. I spent one night listening to Dov say a sentence, then I'd pause and try saying the sentence like he did, complete with gesticulations and intonations. Dov speaks with this flowing rhythm, where he builds and slows at unexpected times. That was fun to try and imitate. I think that by the end of the night my girlfriend was ready to kick me out of the apartment.
Why was Charney chosen as an object of ridicule? (Was it because of the deep-neck Vs?) Were you involved at all in the conception of the sketch? Or did you just act in it?
My friend Todd Bieber conceived of, wrote, and directed the video. I think that Todd chose Dov and American Apparel because it was something that was widely recognizable, but that hadn't really been ridiculed in this particular way. We saw a few other parody videos of Dov out there, and most of them portrayed Dov as being mean. We wanted to stay away from that and try to do something new and more genuine. I don't agree with his views on feminism, but I also don't think that he is a mean-spirited guy by any means. He loves what he does and seems to be enthusiastic and jazzed about what he is doing most of the time. I think that Will Hines, who plays the male 'middle America' model in the video and also produced the video, said it best. After watching an online interview with Dov, Will turned to me and said, 'I've had more self doubts in the last 10 minutes than that man has had in his entire life.' The man loves what he is doing and really believes in himself, which is admirable. I guess we wanted to stay true to that while trying to focus on the ridiculousness of the 'everyday sexy' concept.
Do you own any articles of clothing from American Apparel?
I do actually. In fact, I'm wearing an American Apparel shirt right now, and I think that I was the only actor in the video who didn't have to be given any additional pieces of clothing because I had a full American Apparel outfit in my current wardrobe. When Todd approached me to be in the video and before I really knew what it was all about, I told him that I had to confess that I actually owned a few American Apparel garments, but he replied by saying that he wasn't against American Apparel. American Apparel treats their factory employees relatively well, pays them a minimum wage and is fighting for immigrant rights in Los Angeles. Plus, who doesn't love a nice deep-neck V?
I know I do. How did you get involved with UCB?
When I was a freshman in college in 2003 or so I went to New York with my college improv team to see a show at the UCB theater. We saw The Swarm, a team that now holds legend status amongst the UCB community. At the time I remember being completely blown away and just being like, 'Woah, I didn't know that this was something that could be done. I want to be a part of this.' When it is done well, long-form improv comedy is one of the most beautiful, wonderful things that a human being can take part in, and I think that the UCBT is the best improv theater in the world. I moved to New York specifically with the goal of taking classes and eventually performing at the UCB. I took my first UCB class about a year and a half ago with Bobby Moynihan (of SNL) and Charlie Todd (of Improv Everywhere) and have taken a bunch since then. I'm not on a house improv team, but I recently found out that I was chosen to be an actor on one of the house sketch teams, Thunder Gultch. I'll be performing with them at upcoming Maude Nights. Keep an eye out. The UCB has shows seven nights a week and they're all fantastic.
Do you have a day job as well?
No. You guys hiring?
Ha! From reality star to Heeb intern, perhaps? That kind of feeds into my next question, actually. I guess you could say that you got your start on Beauty and the Geek-has that helped with your career?
It is hard to say if it has helped. I don't think I know yet. When people find out that you've been on a reality television show, it certainly evokes a reaction most of the time. I can tell people that I once nearly died from a parasite that I contracted while traveling alone in Morocco and they won't really bat an eyelash, but mention TV and people get interested and start asking questions. I guess that makes sense. So I suppose it gives me a little something extra, but I don't think that it has really helped in a big way. I don't have a legit agent or anything. I tried to get an agent right after the show aired, but not a single agency would return my calls or e-mails. Reality TV shows are so prevalent these days, I don't think it carries too much weight. Sometimes I'm worried that it actually might hurt my career, stain me as a 'reality television' persona and thus not actually talented or intelligent. Ultimately, though, I don't think it will really matter too much. If I'm good and I work hard, I'll find success. If I do or don't make it in comedy, it wasn't because of Beauty and the Geek.
What have you been up to since you got to New York? Have you done a lot of stand-up? Or has most of your energy gone into producing sketches for the web/TV? What have you been working on lately?
I used to do stand-up a few times a week, but lately my creative energy has mostly been devoted to improv, editing videos for UCBcomedy.com, and working on my weekly vlog, Quarterlife Pounder, where I answer questions submitted by viewers. You should submit a question.
I'll have to do that. Or our readers should. You hear that, readers? Well, here's my last question (for this interview at least). You recently got your master's from Cambridge University, how has this helped with your comedy? Did intensive film studies help you better channel the complicated soul that is Dov Charney?
I'd like to think that there is no area in my life that my intensive film studies don't help, but I'm not sure if that is actually the case. I think that Dov would make an interesting subject for a film, documentary or fiction. I'd want to see that.
UCBT's Kate McKinnon in AutostraddleMar 4, 2015
Beginning at a young age with a coming out speech delivered to her Methodist Church congregation and continuing to this very day-- when she's just finished filming the third season of The Big Gay Sketch Show and is doing her own one-woman five-character show at the Upright Citizens Brigade -- Kate McKinnon has been standing on stages and saying things that sometimes make people uncomfortable for most of her life. Luckily she's really, really, really funny.
We were only partially satiated by our brief red carpet encounter with Ms. McKinnon at the NewNowNext Awards (Logo's prestigious Homosexual Award Ceremony which gifted Ms. McK with a "Brink of Fame: Comic" Award), and therefore we decided to schedule more personal time with Kate this week during monsoon season in New York City. Robin photographed and Riese interviewed Kate McKinnon at her luxurious uptown penthouse over olives, whiskey and prostitutes to discuss a wide range of topics while Ms. McKinnon played with matches.* Let's get down to business!
*only the part about the matches is true.
Riese: So you just finished Season Three of The Big Gay Sketch Show, so what are you going to do now?
Kate: I just last night did the first performance of a one-woman show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater -- they picked it up for a full run. It's called Best Actress, and it's about five fictional actresses who are all nominated for best actress, and it's really, you know, an exploration of the ease and the JOY! and the magnificence! of being a woman in the entertainment industry!
Riese: Especially a lesbian woman.
Kate: It's actually not very gay, but yes -- especially a lesbian woman. I mean, that's how hard it is to be a lesbian woman that I couldn't even put something gay in it.
Riese: Yeah, it would have made it really depressing.
Kate: Or people just would have booed me off the stage.
Riese: Who's your favorite of the five characters you play in Best Actress?
Kate: I wrote a monologue about this Australian actress -- inspired by Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet -- and although she's a dramatic actress she just finished shooting a Judd Apatow movie called Coming on Jane where Jack Black just ejaculates all over her face, and her trying to take that seriously. But Upright Citizens Brigade caters mostly to the 18-35 male crowd.
Riese: And they love Jack Black.
Kate: And I thought I would be booed off the stage for taking pot shots at Judd Apatow, but they, in fact, laughed the hardest.
Riese: Or maybe we're just over the peak of the Judd Apatow hipness curve to the point where they're ready to laugh at it.
Kate: It's a little hip to laugh at Judd Apatow, maybe.
Riese: Yeah, and in two weeks, it'll be hip to still like him, 'cause that means you genuinely liked him earnestly to begin with, so you like, mean it. The Brink of Fame!
Riese: So also, you won a really big award recently!
Kate: Which I had to give back at the ceremony, and I have not received yet in the mail. That's how prestigious it was.
Riese: OK -- but did you notice that everyone nominated for "Brink of Fame: Comic" actually showed up, and in all the other categories, the only person who'd shown up was the person who won. But in your category everyone showed up, so you won fair & square.
Riese: So this means you're the only one who really won anything.
Kate: Does it?
Kate: Okay, I'll go with that.
Riese: Did you notice that?
Kate: Gosh, that makes me feel good. No I didn't know this.
Riese: Were you expecting to be roasted?
Kate: No I was not, and I was certainly not expecting to win, I really wasn't.
Riese: If your bio was on a Post-It note -- as per the roaster's suggestion -- what is the most important part?
Kate: My bio really could be written on a Post-It note; there's not much there. I just, I got my job on The Big Gay Sketch Show during my senior year of college at Columbia University, and then I graduated.
Riese: was intimidated that you'd be really smart, like too smart. And she wouldn't know how to talk to you.
Alex: Well I went to fashion school so...
Riese: What has been the most rewarding part of doing The Big Gay Sketch Show?
Kate: I get a lot of MySpace messages from young women & men across the country who say The Big Gay Sketch Show and Logo is all have. I've had a relatively easy time being gay because I'm from New York, I went to college here, but these people live in communities where they're freakish and they have to hide and they have a really rough time. I have no experience with that. And now they have a channel where they can see themselves and not feel quite so freakish. That's a beautiful thing and I'm truly honored to have been a part of that.
Riese: Do you wanna keep doing stuff for the gay audience?
Kate: Yes! Yes, yes. I mean, it's just so much more fun-er? To perform for people who get it already with a shared baseline of understanding. We've all had an experience of the world that is different from most people's experiences.
Riese: It's the outsider mentality.
Kate: Yeah, so it's fun to do that, but it's also rewarding to venture out into the straight world. That's why I do stuff at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre, I'm also on a sketch team there. I don't know any straight people in my real life, so it's nice to have some contact with ...
Riese: Straight people?
I'm Gonna Commitment Ceremony You
Riese: You and Julie both talk about being aware of your sexuality when you were really young - do you think that comfort with yourself and humor about it is part of your great comedic chemistry together?
Kate: I don't know ... hm. I think it's 'cause I really look up to Julie. She's definitely been a role model for me as a comedian and as a woman, and ... I don't know what she likes about me? But there must be something ... I think I'm just a tagalong?
Riese: But you are on the brink of FAME! You won the Brink of Fame Award!
Kate: Yes ... I did. Oddly enough, Comedy Central has not stepped forward with a development deal because of this, I guess the phone will ring soon.
Riese: Maybe it'll be when you get the actual award back, 'cause right now it's just sort of symbolic.
Kate: Once I get it, I'll just walk into the office and say, "Look, mothafuckas!" Riese: Oh, you should, actually. Wouldn't that be amazing? You should just carry it with you everywhere.
Kate: Like, "Excuse me, I'm on the brink of fame. Where's my contract?"
Riese: You're edging on it. So do you feel like that's true?
Kate: No. Absolutely not.
Riese: What for you is the ultimate dream success?
Kate: My ultimate dream would be to be Lily Tomlin or to be Tracy Ullman, you know, just a character woman. A character woman who does characters where characters are needed. I would kill to be the first gay person on SNL or have a Tracy Ullman-type show. That would be my ultimate dream.
Other People's Questions
Riese: Okay, now I have questions for you from our interns and the team. Are you ready?
Riese: Any new impersonations coming up for the next season? Because everyone loves Fitzwilliam.
Kate: There is a Fitzwilliam sketch, but there is also ... ... much more.
Riese: Any exclusive secret new characters?
Kate: I don't know if it's a secret ... there are some more celebrity impressions ... Among them, I will say ... Barbara Walters is on the show now.
Riese: The View, or...
Kate: In all respects of her life.
Riese: If you could be in a Broadway show, which one, and what character?
Kate: I am a musical theatre enthusiast. I would play Miss Hannigan in Annie.
Riese What was your favorite part when you were doing it in school?
Kate: Adelaide in Guys and Dolls.
Riese: One of our editors wants to know should she call you 'Cutie Fantastico' or 'My Little Poodle Noodle?' Kate: It's rough to decide between the two, but I have to go with 'Cutie Fantastico.' 'Poodle Noodle' makes me ... gag.
Riese: Is it the 'poodle' or the 'noodle?' Kate: It's both.
Riese: Her follow up question is - what is it like to have such an adorable nose?
Kate: I don't know! An adorable nose? Who said that? I'd like to meet the girl who said that!
Riese: Laneia is her name. She's very cute.
Kate: Um, I don't know how to answer that question! I'm glad someone thinks my nose is adorable.
Riese: So this is sort of 'surprising' is how this feels?
Kate: No one's ever said anything about my nose!
Riese: I have to say that obviously I've now been looking at your nose while we've discussed this and I have to agree.
Kate: Well I have Jesus to thank for that, so thank you, buddy.
Riese: What's a lesbian joke that you're really sick of hearing?
Kate: I'm not sick of lesbian jokes, I think they're all true, and I love them! I love that if I wanted to walk around and not shave my legs and have a bad attitude, wear a belt buckle the size of a burrito, I could. I could, and that would be okay because people expect that of me, and I like that people expect that of me.
Riese: So anything other than the burrito buckle is like a pleasant surprise?
Riese: Like 'your hair is so long!'
Riese: Who was your first big crush?
Kate: Gillian Anderson of The X Files. Let me say this: the other day, someone 'suggested a friend' to me on Facebook, and that friend was Gillian Anderson. She has a Facebook page. It's probably someone who made a Gillian Anderson Facebook page, but anyway, I did it, and she accepted my friendship, so now I am Facebook friends with Gillian Anderson.
Riese: Did you look at all her photo albums right away?
Kate: Yeah, I wrote, actually, an essay? About my love for Gillian. It has yet to be published, but I thought about it.
Riese: Just for fun? Or for school?
Kate: No, I really had to work through some stuff, so I wrote about it, and maybe I'll give you guys a copy, and you can put that essay on your website.
Riese: We could publish it. It could have its moment, and you could be the celesbian guest blogger, interviewee, and photoshoot subject, which is like, triple threat.
Kate: Wow, that's too much. Anyway, so I came to understand was that I wanted was to kiss ladies through feeling the way that I did about her.
Riese: It was her role in The X Files? She was in movies.
Kate: No, no, no. It wasn't even Gillian. I wanted Dana Catherine Scully.
A Little Case of Palm Springs Crotch Rot
Riese: What were you doing on your laptop during the Celesbian interviews?
Kate: Oh, I'm just typing. There's nothing. The computer is off.
Riese: Was it awkward afterwards with Dani Campbell? Everyone loves that video of you. It's like one of those videos that people want to show, like 'Oh my God have you seen this?' Then everyone stands around the computer like they're watching puppy cam.
Kate: Here's why it was awkward, not for the reason that you would expect: it was awkward because, for some reason, my crotch smelled, and my legs were spread wide open, and I was smelling my womanhood, and I thought, 'I hope she can't smell it.' I don't want to be in Palm Springs anymore! Palm Springs crotch rot!
Riese: It's the Palm Springs special -- Julie made a joke about it right?
Kate: Yeah, she was making a joke about it, but it like, wasn't a joke. It really was happening.
Riese: So afterwards you just closed your legs?
Kate: Yeah, and Dani Campbell was not expecting that, and afterwards I apologized for my behavior, if it made her uncomfortable, and she said, 'That's alright,' but like it kind of wasn't alright, and I think that had more to do with my crotch than my behavior. So that's the truth about that video.
Riese: Do you like Dinah Shore?
Kate: No. No. I have to say that I didn't. Because I don't drink. I'm not sober, I just don't drink, and I don't like crowds, loud music, or human interaction, and there was a ton of that that weekend, and so it was a little much for me.
Riese: How about the Rosie Cruise?
Kate: Actually, the reason why I don't drink is that I decided to test my limits on the Rosie Cruise. I had three gin and tonics at the uhh --
Riese: At the Spinnaker?
Kate: Yeah! At the Spinnaker Lounge. They say that I was so drunk that I licked a poll in the Spinnaker lounge, and I don't remember that at all, and I had a stomach virus, probably from something I contracted by licking the pole.
Riese: Right, a lot of children and Broadway people. And that's why you don't drink?
Kate: I mean I don't drink because if I have one drink, I am on the floor, and I don't like that feeling.
Riese: But did you like performing on the Rosie Cruise? Did you like the environment?
Kate: Yeah, it was fun. I ate way too much, as you have to. Before those three gin and tonics, I had a 1 a.m. visit to the pasta bar, and I had farfalle with pesto, and I didn't have it a couple of hours later. Oh God, it was terrible.
Riese: I've gotten sick on every Rosie Cruise, I think, once. Is that weird?
The Other Kate McKinnon
Riese: Did you know that there's another Kate McKinnon who makes jewelry?
Kate: Yes I did. I'm trying to outrank her on Google, but I don't know how. She comes up first.
Riese: You should get in touch with her.
Kate: Yeah I should. She's a metalsmith and a beadworker. I should reach out to her, and we could combine forces.
Riese: You could ask her for some jewelry. She makes metalwork and jewelry, doesn't she? Does she have the .com?
Kate: Yeah, I don't have a website. I just never got around to paying someone to make that. I have a Tumblr.
Riese: What do you put on it?
Kate: There is one video on it. I am very bad at self-promotion. Very, very bad. I never update my MySpace account. I never list my gigs or anything, I never get around to it. I just hope that people will show up.
Riese: I mean, you got a job doing comedy right out of college, and now you have a show, so obviously you don't need self-promotion. You're doing really good.
Kate: Well thank you!
Alex: Do you have any questions for Obama?
Kate: I have a lot of questions for Obama right now. I have three questions. When am I going to get married? When am I going to have health insurance? And suga, suga, how'd you get so fly? You're so cute, Barack.
The Big Gay Sketch Show will return to Logo in February of 2010. In the meantime, you can watch re-runs and wait for Kate 'Brink of Fame' McKinnon to update her tumblr and/or myspace and go see her at the Upright Citizens Brigade.
Joe Mande Sells "Look At This Fucking Hipster" BookMar 4, 2015
Well, that didn't take long. According to Publishers Weekly, the popular "Look At This Fucking Hipster" tumblr blog-a stream of photos of clownish hipsters accompanied by short, acerbic captions-is being turned into a book by St. Martin's Press. The author of the blog has so far remained anonymous, but today's PW item outs him as Joe Mande, who was recently named "best new comedian" by Time Out New York and performs a one-man show at the UCB Theatre.
"Look" is only the latest in a string of blog-to-book projects that have been acquired by major publishing houses recently. Others include "This Is Why You're Fat" (HarperStudio), "Pets Who Want to Kill Themselves" (Three Rivers Press), "Postcards From Yo Momma" (Hyperion; co-written by former Observer reporter Doree Shafrir), Chuck Norris Facts (Gotham), and "Stuff White People Like" (Random House). The last of these stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for weeks.
Mr. Mande's book deal was brokered by Foundry Lit + Media assistant and junior agent Hannah Brown Gordon, who said in an interview that she got in touch with the author through Generate, the management and production company that represents him.
"Whenever they have a project that they feel is right for a book, they reach out to us," Ms. Gordon said. "I had emailed him independently, but when I found out he worked with Generate we were able to come together."
Ms. Gordon, who also recently sold a book based on the WordPress blog "Animal Review," said she targeted editors who have demonstrated a willingness to work on blog-to-book projects, a mini-genre that in some quarters still inspires skepticism and even contempt.
Yaniv Soha, the St. Martin's editor who acquired Mr. Mande's hipster book in a preempt, said he is currently editing a book based on the "Cook to Bang: Recipes to Get You Laid" blog.
Mr. Soha, who said he is too old to consider himself a hipster, said the book would consist of mainly new material but would include some of the most popular entries from Mr. Mande's blog as well. He said fans could expect the book to hit stores sometime in the spring of 2010.