Aubrey Plaza featured in Bust MagazineMar 2, 2015
Horsing around with Parks and Recreation's taciturn intern
It wasn't long ago that 25-year-old Aubrey Plaza was spending her days at NYU film school and her nights doing improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade. One week in the summer of 2008, however, changed all that. The comedian was in L.A. on a callback for the Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler movie Funny People but ended up also meeting about the upcoming Michael Cera comedy, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and NBC's Parks and Recreation. She didn't have any plans to relocate to the City of Angels at the time, but after nabbing roles in all these projects in one fell swoop, she had no choice.
"Yeah, the past year has been the biggest of my life. It changed everything," she tells me in a voice a few shades sunnier than the one she uses for April Ludgate, the ultra-blase intern she plays on Parks and Rec.
It's no surprise, though, that Plaza's career took off like a rocket. She knows exactly what she wants and has been tireless in her quest to get it From her decision to move to New York from Wilmington, DE, to study film writing and directing, to regularly hitting the improv stage, to relentlessly faxing her resume to Saturday Night Live for an internship, Plaza has been ready for years. "I'm not a very patient person," she says, laughing, "so when I graduated high school, I was like, 'All right, I'm ready, let's go!'"
It's not hard to see Plaza as representative of a new generation of ass-kickin' female comedians in the tradition of ladies like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. "Being around is the best," she says of her cast-mate and mentor. "Listening to her stories about SNL and all she's had to fight for is really special for me. I try to remember it, and I keep the excitement that I felt when I came to work the first day, because if I lose that, that's when things start to go stale."
Besides Poehler, Plaza has another role model: Adam Sandler. "The fact that he went from SNL to writing and making his own movies like Billy Madison, that really influenced me," she says. "I'd love to do something like that." In fact, she's already in the process of writing a comedy herself, rather than "just auditioning to be, like, the love interest in the next romantic comedy."
In the upcoming Scott Pilgrim, her character, Julie Powers, is another funny lady with a bite. Although she doesn't get any action sequences -- Pilgrim, played by Cera, has to fight seven evil ex-boyfriends to win the heart of Ramona V. Flowers, the girl he loves -- she does get some choice bitchy bits. "Michael is the funniest person I think I've ever met," she says, "so getting to scream and yell at him all day was a dream come true."
Matt Jones lands lead on TBS pilotMar 2, 2015
ABC's 'Sunshine,' NBC's 'Chase' among those adding cast
Better Off Ted star Andrea Anders has landed the female lead opposite Matthew Perry on ABC's comedy pilot Mr. Sunshine. Nate Torrence also has been cast in Mr. Sunshine. Elsewhere, Jesse Metcalfe has been tapped to co-star on NBC's drama pilot Chase, Matt Jones has landed a lead opposite Gary Cole on TBS' hourlong pilot Uncle Nigel, and Eamonn Walker has joined ABC's drama pilot The Whole Truth. The single-camera Mr. Sunshine, from Sony TV, stars Perry as Ben, the manager of an aging San Diego stadium who realizes on his 40th birthday that he can no longer get by on just his charming, noncommittal ways.
Anders will play the cute and tomboyish Alice, who is in a friends-with-benefits relationship with Ben.
For her, the casting is formally in second position to ABC's sophomore comedy Ted, which is not expected to be renewed.
Torrence will play the clumsy son of Ben's boss (Allison Janney). This is his third project with Perry; they were together on NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Perry's pilot for Showtime, The End of Steve. Chase, from WBTV and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, centers on a high-priority fugitive apprehension team in South Texas. Desperate Housewives alum Metcalfe, repped by Gersh and Untitled, will play a preppy Marshal from D.C. newly assigned to the team.
Nigel centers on Nigel Wells (Cole), a veteran Philadelphia homicide detective who takes on his inexperienced, incompetent nephew (Jones) as a partner. Jones (Breaking Bad) is repped by Paradigm and manager Brian Ferrantino.
The Whole Truth, from Warner Bros. TV and Bruckheimer, chronicles the building of a case from the perspective of both the defense and prosecution. Walker (Kings) will play a senior assistant district attorney.
Shannon O'Neill's PRISON FREAKS: A TALENT SHOW Reviewed on TheTickerMar 2, 2015
Prison Freaks Make Their Mark On Theater
The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York now houses Shannon O'Neill's "Prison Freaks: A Talent Show." Much of what we call entertainment these days is fused with nothing more than the stale air of banality. Horror movies inundate us with blood and gore, while dramatic movies aim to soak our Kleenex. Comedy shows often aim no higher than getting cheap laughs.
Not so with "Prison Freaks: A Talent Show," written and performed by Shannon O'Neill. The show is 30 minutes of nonstop comedic genius from O'Neill who portrays four different prison freaks performing at the annual Charlie Sheen Prison talent show. Do not be mistaken, the emphasis is not on the freaks' individual talents.
As O'Neill coyly points out, 'All the talents they perform are things I like to do, but most of them I personally am not very good at. That makes it sound like this show is a terrible talent show, but don't worry audience, I found a way to distract you from seeing that.'
'Distract' is to put it mildly. O'Neill succeeds in doing so much more. The show opens with a list of 'rules' the audience is recommended to follow so as not to upset or incite the prisoners to attack.
The first two rules instruct the audience to ignore the prisoners and to not look them in the eye.
The last two require the audience to both look the prisoners in the eye and interact with them. From there on, no one knows what to do or expect and that's just how O'Neill wants it.
'I love comedy with layers, where you really have to pay attention while you are watching because of all the different jokes and funny moments,' she said. 'Prison Freaks' certainly has twisted layers.
The first prisoner introduced is Brenda, who expresses her innermost feelings through song and leaves the audience torn between staying firmly planted in their seats and running away for dear life. Scared and confused? That's just the beginning.
Without giving away the surprise, 'Prison Freaks' showcases a wonderful medley of sketch and improvisational comedy that O'Neill has been honing for the last 10 years.
'I want to experience something they have never seen before and to remember it,' said O'Neill. 'Whether they remember it because they hated it, loved it or were freaked out.'
The show captures her unique style and sense of humor, something that is difficult to achieve in good comedy. Her advice for aspiring comedians is 'Do what you want to do, not what you think the audience wants you to do. Catering to an audience means you are serving dishes they selected. '
And if the long-held stereotype that women are not funny casts a shadow of doubt over seeing this show, don't bother.
"F--k that noise," counters O'Neill. "Only idiots still believe that ... some of the funniest people today are women: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, Kristin Wiig, et cetera. Dudes, be scared!"
So when deciding on a ticket to a movie that may disappoint, instead, consider visiting the lovely inmates at the Charlie Sheen Prison who are eager to entertain and freak you the hell out. You are guaranteed to leave the theater laughing or promptly placing a knife beneath your pillow at night. 'Prison Freaks: A Talent Show' is scheduled for 8 p.m. shows on Feb. 11 and Feb. 25 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, located at 307 W. 26th St.
For more information, go to http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/shows/2240