Could you describe your best and worst experiences in writing for SNL?
LA: You learn a lot, because youíre a producer -- if your sketch gets
on, you have to produce it. That means working with costume people, prop
people, the actors Ö You learn a lot because all those people are
amazing, so you learn from them too. Itís a real good learning curve.
J: Was there one single piece you were proudest of?
LA: I wouldnít say that. Ö There was one piece I really liked that
didnít make it to air and got cut, but it was sort of a film piece with
Fred [Armisen] that we shot with Jim Signorelli, who has done a lot of
SNLís commercial parodies. It was a parody of those A&E shows about
mysteries of Nazi Germany or mysterious phenomenon. Ours was someone who
had premonitions that you shouldnít get on airplanes, but then you
realize he was really clearly afraid of flying.
J: What are some of your influences?
LA: All the comedy I watched as a kid, like Monty Python, old SNL, Kids
In The Hall Ö it makes you excited to be there because you get to meet
and work with [Robert] Smigel, Tom Davis comes by, Franken comes around,
Jim Downey is there. So thatís kind of fun as a comedy fan.
J: Do they give you advice or criticism?
LA: No, you just kind of learn from them and see what they did. But
sometimes they would say you should change something [small]. It
reinforces the lesson that thereís no real way to [think about this] --
just making sure you do things is the most important thing to do. Most
people forget it immediately.
J: I frequently ask interviewees what their best and worst experiences
were in performing. What were these for you, either in stand-up or
LA: It was always great on SNL to get a sketch on because itís live. The
first week we got a sketch on, in our first week there, that was really
exciting. We were nervous in our first week. The host was Matt Damon and
he was great. That was exciting. Ö Overall, when stuff goes well, itís
amazing, itís like a rush.
As to what was bad, thereís so many bombs that after awhile Ö [it
J: Did you aspire to get into comedy when you were much younger? Or were
you into drama or acting?
LA: Not really, I wanted to be but I was afraid to. I always thought of
comedy writing. I like to read stories [that donít necessarily have a
lot to do with] comedy. Ö I just didnít know anybody. I grew up in the
middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania, so it didnít really strike me that
people could actually do it for a job, for real. It seemed like a real
weird fantasy. Now I feel like if youíre Ö if I were to talk to someone
Ö I could just look them up on the Internet Ö it would have required
much more effort than I ever had in me. Ö
J: Is there a book that you read or something dramatic where you were
pleased you could work that into something somehow?
LA: I think itís more by osmosis. If you read stuff and watch stuff, you
think thatís good or thatís interesting to me, then you sort of Ö
absorb, hopefully, why. Hopefully that rubs off on you, as opposed to Ö
imitating Ö you get a tape and you absorb it. Itís like music. A lot of
bands start by covering songs of people that they really like and
somehow through osmosis that comes out in their own voice.
J: I just meant stuff thatís wide-ranging from being well read, which
Iím guessing you are -- do things just pop into your head?
LA: I donít know how well-read I am. I try to be. I try to know whatís
going on although I donít really do topical stuff because thatís too
hard to write. Thatís too much effort, and you canít use it again. That
never appeals to me. Ö I feel like I need to talk about something that
appeals to me. Everybody does Ö you do what you do Ö you learn to do it
as well as you can, as opposed to being lazy about it.
J: Are there shows or projects that youíre working on now?
LA: Iím making a bunch of short films with Slovin. Ö Weíre writing a
movie and Iím doing a bunch of stand-up, always. We might do another
stage show. Ö A bunch of different stuff. Ö
J: Do you play Comix a lot and were you pleased to see Comix open?
LA: I was pleased to see it open because they would give me stage time.
Ö Sometimes Carolineís or Stand Up NY; Broadway Comedy Club puts me on;
and thereís a bunch of little rooms that people run. Nowadays I really
try to make each spot count, while at first it was just trying to get
used to being on stage -- at least for the first several years -- and
trying not to be totally panicked.
J: Were there things that helped make you comfortable on stage?
LA: Itís just a matter of time Ö and just having certain bad things
happen to you because you realize they wonít kill you. If you bomb or
people think youíre funny, itís just Ďoh well, whatever, Iím trying.í Ö
Doing Conan was really exciting. That was a big day. Ö I love that show,
it was super exciting. Heís just always in evolution, hopefully.
J: Are there further goals that you have or things that you aspire to
LA: Iíd like to get a movie made or be able to do an hour special; I
just did a half-hour one. Ö Iíd like to make stuff Ö that changes
society for the better [facetiously] Ö rather than make society worse.