I'm back in New York City after spending the weekend in beautiful Provincetown. My guest in the Broadway @ series was my friend, Ana Gasteyer. Ana and I took photos of ourselves proudly sporting our mutual love: fanny packs. We recently figured out that we've known each other for 16 years! Back in 1998, we connected at the NBC gym. She was on "SNL" and I was a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnel Show."
The studios for "SNL" and "Rosie" were on the same floor, which was also the same floor as the gym. It was a corporate gym and when you joined, they gave you pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I immediately rejected the shorts because, as Ana puts it, they looked like the signature blue pair a kid in the mid-1970's had to wear when he/she signed up for intermural sports. I assumed that no one "cool" would ever be caught in those old-school blue gym shorts.
Cut to: I'm at the gym and noticed someone stretching on the floor, proudly sporting the shorts and t-shirt. I then see it's Ana, whom I recognized from TV but had never met. Regardless, not knowing her at all didn't stop me from breezing past her and commenting, "Nice wearing of the assigned gym shorts." I guess that could have alienated her, but she immediately owned that the outfit was crazy and I followed up my dish by complimenting her on her voice. When I was at "Rosie," we had a closed-circuit TV in the writer's room where we'd see the rehearsals that were happening at the SNL studios. I had heard Ana rehearsing her Celine Dion sketch and was obsessed with her high belt. We wound up becoming friends and soon bonded over stories about our parents.
Ana and I are obsessed with how her Mom can totally dismiss someone's entire body of work for one mistake. They'd be watching some brilliant gymnast on the Olympics who, in the middle of demonstrating her world-class athleticism, would fall. Immediately her Mom would pipe up with, "On her ass!" Or the more vernacular, "On her wazoo." Either comment translated to mean "Oh, well, that's the complete end of her career." Ana said the most recent and perfect example happened recently while her Mom was at home folding laundry. Madonna appeared on the TV and her Mom rolled her eyes and asked, "Pfft! Whatever happened to her?"
Ana's Mom was very into classical music and loved that Ana played the violin. Ana went to Interlochen Arts Academy over the summer, which she loved because it not only had classical music, but many other types of classes and activities. However, her family couldn't afford it every summer so on the "off" summers, her Mom enrolled her in the Gettysburg Chamber Music camp. Ana said it was "wonderful" to be with a bunch of hormonal teenagers in a humid pavilion full of gnats while playing chamber music all day long. And, on the days when they didn't have rehearsal, Ana told us they had the privelege of visiting Civil War battle fields. "What teenager wouldn't love that?" she asked. Ana thinks her mother figured out that she wasn't into chamber music when she picked her up one day. Another string player came over and said, "Your daughter is so talented!" Mrs. Gasteyer smiled humbly. The girl then added, "I mean, you should see her lipsynch 'Funky Town.'" The smile was erased.
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