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J: 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 writing?
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 doesnít matter].

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 do?
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.

  

   

     

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