We’ve loved Ana Gasteyer since she was lighting up SNL for six seasons. Margaret Jo McCullen on NPR’s Delicious Dish (Dusty Muffin, Schweddy Balls), topless Martha Stewart, high school music teacher Bobbie Mohan-Culp…the list of characters goes on and on.
Now, Gasteyer’s recently released an album called “I’m Hip” where she unveils her great singing voice (something we already knew about from Broadway stints in shows like Wicked and Rocky Horror) with songs like One Mint Julep, Proper Cup of Coffee and even Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats. Basically the takeaway is that for us here at TNP (foodies, musical geeks and comedy lovers), Gasteyer’s gone past girl crush. Even if you don’t feel like dusty muffins, schweddy balls or Martha topless this morning, there’s still much here in this interview for everyone…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
First, a non-fat double shot cappuccino. One before anyone speaks to me and then another one during breakfast. Then a Turkish breakfast: lots of savory stuff, like some feta and a shepherd’s salad, a couple of pieces of cured meat, maybe Simit with a little honey, and Pomegranate seeds or juice. I’m not into breakfast but I know it’s good for me and this kind of grazing makes me happy in the morning. (The mini version of this for daily life is avocado toast.) Then around 1 o’clock, a cup of soup and a pear or apple cut into slices. In winter, this is two clementines. I like Miso soup in a to-go cup if I’m running around. I’m not that into lunch either – such a productive time of day to stop everything and eat – so sometimes the 11 o’clock soup thing gets me through that and I can go straight to a 2pm snack with cheese, hummus, pretzels and berries or something. If not, then I like wraps – smoked salmon, or thai chicken & basil. Or a big salad with nuts and things in it. Around 3pm, another cappuccino. Maybe a thin, flat chocolate chip cookie from a bakery. Then dinner at 7:30 would be a half dozen oysters, a singular strong vegetable – like an arugula salad or a plate of roasted asparagus – and a substantial, earthy entrée – roasted chicken or snapper, or butterflied lamb chops. Two (okay, maybe three) glasses of dry, dark rosé. If I’m in the mood, a small tangy dessert – lemon tart or apricot mousse. If this is at a restaurant, Citi Bike home, tidy up, do the crossword, go to sleep.
Three things that make you laugh the most…
Earnestness, entitlement and unexpected insights.
Who are the funniest people (besides you) out there right now?
My SNL lady colleagues, of course. And I think Key and Peele are fantastic. I love Bridget Everett and Jenny Slate, for completely different reasons. Rodman is hilarious. On Twitter, I love John Early, Jeffrey Self, Paula Pell, Jenny Johnson and about a million more people.
Your favorite sketch on SNL ever that involved food…
I’m clearly supposed to say Schweddy Balls, but I love this family dinner sketch Will Ferrell wrote about a mostly silent dysfunctional mealtime fight with these horrendous outbursts. It was absurdly fun. When we were rehearsing, Will kept saying “It’s about the awkward clinking of silverware on plates. Just do lots of horrible, sad clinking sounds.” And the dinner itself is the saddest chicken recipe ever, from the back of a Lipton Soup box. It just tells you everything you need to know about these people. You know from that one detail that the whole family’s phoning it in. That’s funny writing.
How has the show changed since you were on? For better or for worse?
SNL lives in the moment and is one of the last immediate reflections on our changing world. When it began it was truly, radically revolutionary to call out the authority of the news and advertising. No one had ever questioned that. Now we live in a media-saturated world that often parodies itself, so it’s hard to keep up even in terms of pop referencing.
In terms of changing, the digital component is a huge game-changer. Of course I love the Lonely Island shorts, which really changed the trajectory of the show. But on a basic level, the reach into the YouTube/Hulu sphere and the ability to go viral and reach such a large audience makes it very different. It’s amazing how fast technology has evolved in such a short time. When I was there we relied on the live viewer and on VCR’s being set, but we didn’t have the ability to get into someone’s work computer. I mean, that just seems pre-historic now. We also didn’t have easy access from a research standpoint. Like to prepare an impression, for example; it was a whole rigamarole to simply obtain a tape of someone to study, versus now just googling and viewing. In retrospect, I don’t know how we did it. So, for me to judge better or worse wouldn’t make sense; the show is always just an amazing marker of the times.
What are some Times Square haunts for eating and drinking we don’t know about but should?
I love the Rum House at the Edison Hotel; it’s small and swingin’. And I’m loving the whole vibe of the new Gotham West Market on 11th. El Colmado tapas bar is fantastic for a pre-theater date. And it’s old school, but I still love the black bean soup, the caesar salad, and the liver and onions at Joe Allen.
What are your pre and post shoot/show routines? Any odd ones?
When I first started singing in clubs, my manager would always bring me a straw, so as not to mess up my lipstick. A few years ago he gave me a sterling silver straw to slip in my drink on stage. I’m very careful to get it and my show drink set up just ‘so’ prior to getting on stage to sing with the band.
The best advice you’ve ever received…
If you’re throwing a last minute party, at least make sure your bathroom is clean. It’s the only place someone will have a few minutes alone within which to judge your home.
The funniest advice you’ve ever received…
Never be ashamed of Spanx. Everyone wears them, even Beyoncé.
What’s always in your bag on set?
Hand sanitizer and fizzy vitamins. I’m paranoid about getting sick because it slows me down, and show folk are constantly touching everybody.
What are your vices?
Chuckles and Wine. Meaning Chuckles, as in the candy, and now that I think about it, wine as in whine.
What are the best and worst foods for vocals?
I worried about that on Broadway but I get really superstitious/OCD really fast. The truth is, who knows. So, actually one of the true joys of the night club act and of recording ‘I’m Hip’ is that I let all that go. I ate and drank and lived and sang throughout the recording weeks and I do feel like that’s much more in the spirit of what kind of record it is. The great performers from the entertainment heyday of the sixties often drank and even smoked on stage. So the record is a good-time album sung by the good time girl part of me and my sincere hope is that people put it on while they are enjoying life a little.
The movie you’d put forever on repeat…
For reasons unclear, I never get bored of Top Hat or any of the Bourne movies.
Five things you’re loving right now…
What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s ‘the new potato’ of comedy right now?
Vintage SNL never goes out of style.
Watch the video for Ana Gasteyer’s ‘One Mint Julep’ below. Buy the album here.