How do you feel about using video in a show as opposed to having
everything be live performance on stage?
LP: For my show, it was a little bit practical because I needed time to
change. For Kitty’s piece, I wanted to set up her journey before we meet
her, so I'm not doing exposition the whole time. So I have the
retrospective montage and then I have half of the music video. I sing
the first half of the song live and then it switches to the music video.
J: Compared to doing a two-person show, or “Showgirls” with a cast, how
is this show different for you, without having other people to play off
LP: It's a lot harder -- even marketing the performance and setting up
technical aspects. You have to do all of that yourself, including
bringing audience. As far as performing it, there's a totally different
feeling that you get when you're doing just yourself.
J: What is that feeling?
LP: It depends on how the show goes. If the show goes really well, then,
it's a good feeling. I mean, it’s just you up there, making them laugh
and listen. After the first couple times I did the show, I was tired,
because it was just giving, giving, giving for 35 minutes non-stop and
it's not like what I’m doing is low-energy -- it's all crazy,
high-energy, so I was really depleted afterward.
J: Have you figured out a better pacing to prevent that?
LP: I’m faster in the costume changes so I'm able to grab a drink of
water right before I go back out. Or I’m not anxious about certain
pieces going well because I’ve done them already. Setting up, I figured
out a way to do that so I'm not rushing.
J: How did you go from being a student of improv to teaching it?
LP: I was doing the touring company and teaching workshops on the road,
and then I started subbing classes, and then I started teaching. I
taught high school for two years, so I really love teaching. And I
really love improv, so … I love teaching improv. As I've gone along, I’m
learning from my own mistakes and trying to get better at it. It’s
really just figuring out what it is that’s working or not working with
the students, and making sure that I'm giving them praise -- still
holding them to a high expectation but also still keeping it fun.
J: What levels do you teach?
LP: Right now I do levels 101 and 301. Jeff Hiller and I are co-teaching
a character improvisation class. We will have shows at the end of June,
through July. It’s exciting. It’s a blast to teach.
J: You mentioned a commercial. What are you doing as a working actor?
LP: In the past year and a half, I’ve been lucky to have success with
commercials. I also shot my first feature film a couple months ago. It's
called “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” and it stars Isla Fisher -- it's a
Disney/Bruckheimer picture. I met really cool people like Wendie Malick,
Julie Hagerty, Clea Lewis, Joan Cusack and Isla Fisher of course. The
director was really great, PJ Hogan. He was very open to improvisation
and in fact, encouraged it. And Isla definitely likes to improvise so
you have to be able to go with the flow. I play a shopaholic named
Joyce in the Spenders Anonymous group. It was really fun.
J: Is your comedy influenced directly by comedic influences, or is it
more theatrical influences?
LP: Most of the people that I love are in comedy. I was obsessed with
Saturday Night Live when I was younger. I dressed up like [the
characters] for Halloween every year. I was a Conehead one year. I was a
“Wild and Crazy Guy” one year. Looking back, it seems obvious what my
path would be. I love Lucille Ball. I love Gilda Radner. I remember
being just fascinated with both of those women. I couldn't believe how
-- on such a basic level, they were so funny.
I remember seeing the dance scene with Gilda Radner and Steve Martin
where they dance; they're in a jazz club and see each other, and it
becomes this dramatic dance scene. It combines this elegant real
classical ballroom dance with their awkward, crazy, spasmic dancing. I
can still watch it today and be so in awe.
I'm lucky that I get to perform with people that I look up to, like Amy
Poehler, Miriam Tolan and Rachel Dratch -- I mean lady-wise. Of course,
gentlemen as well -- John Lutz, Jason Mantzoukas, Jack McBrayer, Horatio
Sanz; Seth Meyers is an incredible improviser. That whole crew that I
get to play with; I'm beside myself.
I believe that you should surround yourself with people who are better
than you in a lot of ways. So a lot of the people that I’ve been able to
see perform are now people who are my friends -- like my teammates.
They’re so good; what they do is really inspiring to me.
I think about other funny women like Lily Tomlin. I remember watching
the Tracy Ullman show when it was on with The Simpsons. I also wanted to
be on Kids Incorporated and the Mickey Mouse Club. And I love Cate
J: She doesn't do a lot of comedy, though.
LP: She does a little bit. She was in Wes Anderson's “The Life Aquatic
With Steve Zissou.” She’s funny. She’s just good at everything she does.
Either that or she just picks things really well. It’s seamless; it’s
really admirable. She’s one of those people that I want to meet.
J: What are your best and worst performing experiences?
LP: “Showgirls” was a pretty big high for me; especially the week Fred
Armisen played the role that is filled with a different person each
time. But the performance moment I feel most proud of is actually an
improv show I did with the Shoves toward the end of our time together. I
acted a scene, I was in a beat with Angeliki George, where we played
these two science nerds that were in love with each other. They started
as children and then the second time they were in college, or one was in
college and one wasn’t. It was just like real and people cared what
happened and it was also hilarious, and it ended up that it was all
happening inside this little girl’s head, played by Risa Sang-urai and
she had the power to control what was happening inside her head, so in
the scene, we started begging her to change the ending. It was
emotional. I was literally close to tears, which was crazy because it’s
an improv show. But when it was over, the audience went crazy and it
just felt surreal. Like something had changed.
A low? I’ve performed in some pretty crappy places, with good people. I
was on a team at Above Kleptomania, that old stripper place on 42nd
Street. “Karl With A K” was the name of the group. Again, good people,
crappy place. But I did a show when I first moved here -- and in the
middle of it I thought, ‘What am I doing?’ There were four people in the
audience. My now-husband came to see it and that’s a reason I knew he
was a keeper because he still talked to me afterward.