Film

Comedian Jenny Slate: “I Feel Really Horny About Being a Woman”


DAME talks with the erstwhile ‘SNL’ F-bomb dropper turned Sundance superstar about ‘Obvious Child’—the first-ever pro-choice rom-com.



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We first fell in love with comedian Jenny Slate when we caught her obscenely funny stand-up, which swings from the bawdy (e.g., she reenacts her childhood obsession with getting off on the arm of her parents’ sofa) to the bawdily absurd (e.g., she recounts a story in which she imagines Michael Jordan’s penis coming out of the television during a super-stoned viewing of Space Jam on an airplane), delivered with endearing sweetness and genuine enthusiasm. Our love for her has only grown with each of her projects, from Marcel the Shell, the stop-motion short (and Internet sensation) she co-created and voiced, about, well, a shoe-wearing shell, to her scene-stealing character on Comedy Central’s Kroll Show’s PubLIZity, a dead-on impression of a particular type of L.A.-bred reality star. (And yes, she’s the one who dropped the F-bomb on SNL, but can we stop talking about that now?)

Now the 31-year-old actor is taking it to the next level, starring in Gillian Robespierre’s feature film Obvious Child—an illustrious debut for both actor and filmmaker—which just premiered at Sundance and got picked up on Monday by A24 for a 2014 release, according to Variety. The film, which was born out of Robespierre and Slate’s 2009 short of the same name, introduces Donna Stern, a recently dumped comedian who learns she’s pregnant. Yes, it’s a comedy. A pro-choice rom-com, if you will. And we will. Audiences at Sundance certainly did. DAME had the opportunity to chat with Slate at the festival.

You play a stand-up comedian named Donna in ‘Obvious Child.’ How much of her stand-up routine is borrowed from your material?

There are a few lines that I have done before and wanted to lend to this. But Gillian wrote the stand-up and I read it, and I was like, “She just wrote a 45-minute set,” which is amazing. But also [laughs] that’s too long to be in a movie. Gillian was nice enough and confident enough to say, “Okay, let’s talk about it.” Some people, especially people who write and direct comedy, are like, “No, this is what I wrote, so you can go ahead and say it,” and that’s not what she did.

In the film, Donna is close with both of her parents, which is rare to see in a movie about a 20-something going through personal upheaval.

We both are really close with our parents. I’m very, very close with my parents, but they can’t live my life. And Donna’s very close with the women who are in her life—they can’t live her life for her either. She can ask questions of them, she can be curious about other female experiences, but when it comes down to it, she has to live her life. When the big things happen, good or bad, I’m still myself. On the day that I got married, I wasn’t like suddenly without bitten-up fingernails and indigestion. I was just myself.

You and Gillian have been working on ‘Obvious Child’ for years now, as a short and now as a feature-length project. How do you work together so well?

Gillian is so funny. She’s so smart, nobody speaks the way that she does, and I haven’t ever seen a script like the one that she wrote. I’m a young woman who is so hungry to play a character that I know I can play and have not been given the chance to yet, and I’m feeling great.

Do you feel like we’re experiencing a golden age of female comics, like Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler?

They are all different women. And they all do different types of comedy. I wish I could remember the name of the woman that I heard on the radio, but she was some fancy French journalist, and someone said, “Do you consider yourself a feminist?” and she said, “Yes, I do, and especially in the way that my main objective is for things to be equal between the sexes.” Not that like, “We take over!” and push everybody down, but that it is equal. I mean, I love being a woman, I feel really horny about being a woman. I love it. I think what is happening, at least what I see and what I will encourage and push forward, is honesty in comedy. Hopefully a turn away from the hacky stuff, and toward expression in comedy that is full of heart, really personal, and that reveals the human. I think that you don’t have to be a woman or a man to do it. It’s whoever and the more we do it, the more people will want to do it. You see it, and you want to do it yourself.

I feel really horny about being a woman. Jenny Slate

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