Abby Elliott featured in Elle MagazineMar 9, 2015
SNL's Michaela Watkins and Abby Elliott are hysterical on the fly
Three weeks into their new lives as cast members on Saturday Night Live, Michaela Watkins and Abby Elliott pause from writing, rehearsing, and gawking at Andy Samberg to discuss their seemingly surreal ascent to the Big Show. 'Congratulations!' says Watkins. 'You're taking our interview virginity!' explains Elliott. They haven't had much time off work since coming to New York in November. 'At one point,' says Watkins, a joke-making opportunist, 'I had to beg to go to the bathroom.' Prior to getting the call from their dream boss, SNL executive producer and comedy kingmaker Lorne Michaels, the pair lived in Los Angeles, albeit as strangers. 'We both knew every single person in L.A. except for each other,' says Elliott. 'I found out I got the job four hours before getting on the plane,' Watkins says, 'so I didn't even have time to Google-stalk.' Back in L.A., Elliott, who is only 21, put in time with the top-tier comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade, and she comes from a professionally funny family. Her dad, Chris, an SNL alum, is a zany slapstick genius, and her grandfather Bob is a radiohumor legend. Watkins, 37, spent six years with an equally hilarious group of wits, the Groundlings, and most recently appeared on Julia Louis-Dreyfus' sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine. 'And I did regional theater,' she adds. 'I've played a tree and a typewriter.' That kind of anonymity is effectively over. 'Our first day of work, we touched Beyonce,' says Watkins. 'If you stick your hand into a bucket of warm butter,' deadpans Elliott, 'that's what her skin feels like.' So, are we looking at the second coming of Tina and Amy? They've got the chemistry, the smarts, the contrasting hair. 'And,' adds Watkins, 'Abby can sing like a mofo!'
Vanity Fair names Amy Poehler one of 'Comedy's New Legends'Mar 9, 2015
In these tough times, America is lucky to have the community of comic talent featured here: men and women who will band together for the perfect setup, charm laughs from their audience, and seize on just about any icon--a Founding Father, a famous artist, even a V.F. cover--as ripe for gentle subversion. From Russell Brand's Chaplin to Seth Rogen's Frida Kahlo to an all-star update of The Honeymooners, V.F.'s photographers capture a new generation's take on its favorite legends, and Jim Windolf figures out why their particular brand of funny fits the national mood.
AMY POEHLER and WILL ARNETT, The Accomplices
Some Saturday Night Live cast members just made you laugh (Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Will Ferrell). Others made you laugh and freaked you out at the same time (Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Molly Shannon). And one made you laugh while scaring you (John Belushi). With Amy Poehler, there was something new. She certainly got her share of laughs in her eight-season tenure on the show, but she also inspired the kind of affection that's hard to come by at that hour of the night. Last October, when it was announced on-air that she was absent because she was having a baby, there was something like an awwwww from the crowd, mixed with some seriously warm applause. Poehler will continue her cuddly relationship with NBC viewers soon, as the star of a new Thursday-night sitcom, Parks and Recreation. The Han Solo-esque stud on this page would be Will Arnett, Poehler's husband. If you've seen Arnett as the entertainingly insufferable G. O. B. Bluth II on the late Fox sitcom Arrested Development, or in Blades of Glory or Semi-Pro or, God help you, Let's Go to Prison, you know there's something not right about him. In a good way. He's now doing his thing on 30 Rock, as Devon Banks, a corporate climber overwhelmed by his own gayness.
Chris Gethard's Magic BUS of Stories in Time Out New YorkMar 9, 2015
A group of admirers inspires a comic to take his show on the road-literally.
BIG FISH STORY Gethard comes to terms with his audience.
No two performances of Magic Box of Stories, happening Wednesday 11 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, are the same. The audience chooses which autobiographical tales Chris Gethard will share by drawing cards from the aforementioned box, and there's only enough time for four or five. At a recent installment, Gethard announced, "I'd like to apologize in advance: In four of the nine stories, human feces appears, so it's statistically possible this will be an entirely shit-related show."
It didn't turn out to be that way, but the non-poo-centric pieces-about an accidental herpes test at a gay clinic, and a run-in by a swamp with a seven-foot-tall hillbilly who threatened to rape him, among others-are equally candid and far stranger. Gethard, 28, has a knack for being in weird places at interesting times, a somewhat uncontrollable characteristic that can be a real boon to a professional storyteller. In Magic Box, the comic claims that "fate or whatever you believe in" has granted him this blessing of story fodder as restitution for giving him "a huge forehead and a last name that spells out get hard."
His stories bear a combination of fearless, shameless honesty and self-effacing humility. And almost all occur in his home state, New Jersey, which, by virtue of its proximity, is another boon: On Saturday 7 Gethard literally takes this show on the road. At 10am, a chartered bus will depart Chelsea for a four-hour guided tour through West Orange and New Brunswick. "Last week I went to the house I grew up in and knocked on the door. The guy was cool; he's gonna let 55 people come inside so I can say into a bullhorn, 'And this is the basement where my mom caught me drinking.'?"
The idea is a gem, but Gethard doesn't take all the credit. You might say his fans demanded it. There is an online club called Gethard's GethTards-the Facebook group is almost 200 strong-which is the product of both sincere adoration and a joke taken too far. It started at ASSSSCAT 3000. Every time Gethard appeared as the guest monologist, a group of kids, many of whom are improv students, showed up to cheer and shout his name. Horatio Sanz dubbed them the GethTards and a movement was born; T-shirts bearing the comedian's face and the group's insignia are for sale at CafePress.
"It's one of the weirdest things that's ever happened to me," Gethard explains. Considering the swamp-monster-molester thing (his existence has also been documented by the police, BTW), that statement is saying a lot. "They come to shows with pictures of me-but it's a joke! I think they do understand that that's a really stupid way to behave. I actually had a serious talk about it with my therapist." His first discussion-board post after joining the Facebook group: "The existence of this group is humiliating."
Anyway, here's how it went down: The GethTards started a thread about loving Chris so much, they wanted to have a convention in Jersey and visit the locales of his youth. Gethard, unable to decipher where the line fell between mockery and veracity, posted, simply, "I am calling your bluff." He chartered a bus, named the event Magic Bus of Stories, and posted it on the UCBT website. It sold out in 90 minutes-mostly to the 'Tards, although a few strangers did notice the listing in time to score seats (Gethard perused the reservations).
But the general public will have its chance. The comic is already planning a return trip in the spring. "It would be hilarious to have 55 people jump in my parents' pool," he says. Recalling Andy Kaufman's famous Carnegie Hall show, after which he took the entire audience out for milk and cookies, he adds, "I want this to be my shitty, less talented version of that."
As for the non-'Tards making the virgin voyage, Gethard is surprised. "Why would you come on this bus tour? Why would you pay $30 to relive the life of someone you've never heard of?" Because it's going to be very, very funny. But Gethard's inability to understand his popularity, his trademark humility, is part of his appeal. It's a vicious, if creatively fruitful, cycle. Fortunately, according to the UCBT website, his therapist will also be on board.
Magic Bus of Stories happens Sat 7. Magic Box of Stories happens Wed 11 at the UCBT.