Kate McKinnon: The Autostraddle Interview Photoshoot
Beginning at a young age with a coming out speech delivered to her Methodist Church congregation and continuing to this very day-- when she's just finished filming the third season of The Big Gay Sketch Show and is doing her own one-woman five-character show at the Upright Citizens Brigade -- Kate McKinnon has been standing on stages and saying things that sometimes make people uncomfortable for most of her life. Luckily she's really, really, really funny.
We were only partially satiated by our brief red carpet encounter with Ms. McKinnon at the NewNowNext Awards (Logo's prestigious Homosexual Award Ceremony which gifted Ms. McK with a "Brink of Fame: Comic" Award), and therefore we decided to schedule more personal time with Kate this week during monsoon season in New York City. Robin photographed and Riese interviewed Kate McKinnon at her luxurious uptown penthouse over olives, whiskey and prostitutes to discuss a wide range of topics while Ms. McKinnon played with matches.* Let's get down to business!
*only the part about the matches is true.
Riese: So you just finished Season Three of The Big Gay Sketch Show, so what are you going to do now?
Kate: I just last night did the first performance of a one-woman show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater -- they picked it up for a full run. It's called Best Actress, and it's about five fictional actresses who are all nominated for best actress, and it's really, you know, an exploration of the ease and the JOY! and the magnificence! of being a woman in the entertainment industry!
Riese: Especially a lesbian woman.
Kate: It's actually not very gay, but yes -- especially a lesbian woman. I mean, that's how hard it is to be a lesbian woman that I couldn't even put something gay in it.
Riese: Yeah, it would have made it really depressing.
Kate: Or people just would have booed me off the stage.
Riese: Who's your favorite of the five characters you play in Best Actress?
Kate: I wrote a monologue about this Australian actress -- inspired by Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet -- and although she's a dramatic actress she just finished shooting a Judd Apatow movie called Coming on Jane where Jack Black just ejaculates all over her face, and her trying to take that seriously. But Upright Citizens Brigade caters mostly to the 18-35 male crowd.
Riese: And they love Jack Black.
Kate: And I thought I would be booed off the stage for taking pot shots at Judd Apatow, but they, in fact, laughed the hardest.
Riese: Or maybe we're just over the peak of the Judd Apatow hipness curve to the point where they're ready to laugh at it.
Kate: It's a little hip to laugh at Judd Apatow, maybe.
Riese: Yeah, and in two weeks, it'll be hip to still like him, 'cause that means you genuinely liked him earnestly to begin with, so you like, mean it. The Brink of Fame!
Riese: So also, you won a really big award recently!
Kate: Which I had to give back at the ceremony, and I have not received yet in the mail. That's how prestigious it was.
Riese: OK -- but did you notice that everyone nominated for "Brink of Fame: Comic" actually showed up, and in all the other categories, the only person who'd shown up was the person who won. But in your category everyone showed up, so you won fair & square.
Riese: So this means you're the only one who really won anything.
Kate: Does it?
Kate: Okay, I'll go with that.
Riese: Did you notice that?
Kate: Gosh, that makes me feel good. No I didn't know this.
Riese: Were you expecting to be roasted?
Kate: No I was not, and I was certainly not expecting to win, I really wasn't.
Riese: If your bio was on a Post-It note -- as per the roaster's suggestion -- what is the most important part?
Kate: My bio really could be written on a Post-It note; there's not much there. I just, I got my job on The Big Gay Sketch Show during my senior year of college at Columbia University, and then I graduated.
Riese: [Alex] was intimidated that you'd be really smart, like too smart. And she wouldn't know how to talk to you.
Alex: Well I went to fashion school so...
Riese: What has been the most rewarding part of doing The Big Gay Sketch Show?
Kate: I get a lot of MySpace messages from young women & men across the country who say The Big Gay Sketch Show and Logo is all [they] have. I've had a relatively easy time being gay because I'm from New York, I went to college here, but these people live in communities where they're freakish and they have to hide and they have a really rough time. I have no experience with that. And now they have a channel where they can see themselves and not feel quite so freakish. That's a beautiful thing and I'm truly honored to have been a part of that.
Riese: Do you wanna keep doing stuff for the gay audience?
Kate: Yes! Yes, yes. I mean, it's just so much more fun-er? To perform for people who get it already with a shared baseline of understanding. We've all had an experience of the world that is different from most people's experiences.
Riese: It's the outsider mentality.
Kate: Yeah, so it's fun to do that, but it's also rewarding to venture out into the straight world. That's why I do stuff at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre, I'm also on a sketch team there. I don't know any straight people in my real life, so it's nice to have some contact with ...
Riese: Straight people?
I'm Gonna Commitment Ceremony You
Riese: You and Julie both talk about being aware of your sexuality when you were really young - do you think that comfort with yourself and humor about it is part of your great comedic chemistry together?
Kate: I don't know ... hm. I think it's 'cause I really look up to Julie. She's definitely been a role model for me as a comedian and as a woman, and ... I don't know what she likes about me? But there must be something ... I think I'm just a tagalong?
Riese: But you are on the brink of FAME! You won the Brink of Fame Award!
Kate: Yes ... I did. Oddly enough, Comedy Central has not stepped forward with a development deal because of this, I guess the phone will ring soon.
Riese: Maybe it'll be when you get the actual award back, 'cause right now it's just sort of symbolic.
Kate: Once I get it, I'll just walk into the office and say, "Look, mothafuckas!" Riese: Oh, you should, actually. Wouldn't that be amazing? You should just carry it with you everywhere.
Kate: Like, "Excuse me, I'm on the brink of fame. Where's my contract?"
Riese: You're edging on it. So do you feel like that's true?
Kate: No. Absolutely not.
Riese: What for you is the ultimate dream success?
Kate: My ultimate dream would be to be Lily Tomlin or to be Tracy Ullman, you know, just a character woman. A character woman who does characters where characters are needed. I would kill to be the first gay person on SNL or have a Tracy Ullman-type show. That would be my ultimate dream.
Other People's Questions
Riese: Okay, now I have questions for you from our interns and the team. Are you ready?
Riese: Any new impersonations coming up for the next season? Because everyone loves Fitzwilliam.
Kate: There is a Fitzwilliam sketch, but there is also ... [mulls it over] ... much more.
Riese: Any exclusive secret new characters?
Kate: I don't know if it's a secret [looks vague and mysterious] ... there are some more celebrity impressions ... Among them, I will say ... Barbara Walters is on the show now.
Riese: The View, or...
Kate: In all respects of her life.
Riese: If you could be in a Broadway show, which one, and what character?
Kate: I am a musical theatre enthusiast. I would play Miss Hannigan in Annie.
Riese What was your favorite part when you were doing it in school?
Kate: Adelaide in Guys and Dolls.
Riese: One of our editors wants to know should she call you 'Cutie Fantastico' or 'My Little Poodle Noodle?' Kate: [laughs, blushes] It's rough to decide between the two, but I have to go with 'Cutie Fantastico.' 'Poodle Noodle' makes me ... gag.
Riese: Is it the 'poodle' or the 'noodle?' Kate: It's both.
Riese: Her follow up question is - what is it like to have such an adorable nose?
Kate: [cracks up laughing] I don't know! An adorable nose? Who said that? I'd like to meet the girl who said that!
Riese: Laneia is her name. She's very cute.
Kate: Um, I don't know how to answer that question! I'm glad someone thinks my nose is adorable.
Riese: So this is sort of 'surprising' is how this feels?
Kate: No one's ever said anything about my nose!
Riese: I have to say that obviously I've now been looking at your nose while we've discussed this and I have to agree.
Kate: Well I have Jesus to thank for that, so thank you, buddy.
Riese: What's a lesbian joke that you're really sick of hearing?
Kate: I'm not sick of lesbian jokes, I think they're all true, and I love them! I love that if I wanted to walk around and not shave my legs and have a bad attitude, wear a belt buckle the size of a burrito, I could. I could, and that would be okay because people expect that of me, and I like that people expect that of me.
Riese: So anything other than the burrito buckle is like a pleasant surprise?
Riese: Like 'your hair is so long!'
Riese: Who was your first big crush?
Kate: Gillian Anderson of The X Files. Let me say this: the other day, someone 'suggested a friend' to me on Facebook, and that friend was Gillian Anderson. She has a Facebook page. It's probably someone who made a Gillian Anderson Facebook page, but anyway, I did it, and she accepted my friendship, so now I am Facebook friends with Gillian Anderson.
Riese: Did you look at all her photo albums right away?
Kate: Yeah, I wrote, actually, an essay? About my love for Gillian. It has yet to be published, but I thought about it.
Riese: Just for fun? Or for school?
Kate: No, I really had to work through some stuff, so I wrote about it, and maybe I'll give you guys a copy, and you can put that essay on your website.
Riese: We could publish it. It could have its moment, and you could be the celesbian guest blogger, interviewee, and photoshoot subject, which is like, triple threat.
Kate: Wow, that's too much. Anyway, so I came to understand was that I wanted was to kiss ladies through feeling the way that I did about her.
Riese: It was her role in The X Files? She was in movies.
Kate: No, no, no. It wasn't even Gillian. I wanted Dana Catherine Scully.
A Little Case of Palm Springs Crotch Rot
Riese: What were you doing on your laptop during the Celesbian interviews?
Kate: Oh, I'm just typing. There's nothing. The computer is off.
Riese: Was it awkward afterwards with Dani Campbell? Everyone loves that video of you. It's like one of those videos that people want to show, like 'Oh my God have you seen this?' Then everyone stands around the computer like they're watching puppy cam.
Kate: Here's why it was awkward, not for the reason that you would expect: it was awkward because, for some reason, my crotch smelled, and my legs were spread wide open, and I was smelling my womanhood, and I thought, 'I hope she can't smell it.' I don't want to be in Palm Springs anymore! Palm Springs crotch rot!
Riese: It's the Palm Springs special -- Julie made a joke about it right?
Kate: Yeah, she was making a joke about it, but it like, wasn't a joke. It really was happening.
Riese: So afterwards you just closed your legs?
Kate: Yeah, and Dani Campbell was not expecting that, and afterwards I apologized for my behavior, if it made her uncomfortable, and she said, 'That's alright,' but like it kind of wasn't alright, and I think that had more to do with my crotch than my behavior. So that's the truth about that video.
Riese: Do you like Dinah Shore?
Kate: No. No. I have to say that I didn't. Because I don't drink. I'm not sober, I just don't drink, and I don't like crowds, loud music, or human interaction, and there was a ton of that that weekend, and so it was a little much for me.
Riese: How about the Rosie Cruise?
Kate: Actually, the reason why I don't drink is that I decided to test my limits on the Rosie Cruise. I had three gin and tonics at the uhh --
Riese: At the Spinnaker?
Kate: Yeah! At the Spinnaker Lounge. They say that I was so drunk that I licked a poll in the Spinnaker lounge, and I don't remember that at all, and I had a stomach virus, probably from something I contracted by licking the pole.
Riese: Right, a lot of children and Broadway people. And that's why you don't drink?
Kate: I mean I don't drink because if I have one drink, I am on the floor, and I don't like that feeling.
Riese: But did you like performing on the Rosie Cruise? Did you like the environment?
Kate: Yeah, it was fun. I ate way too much, as you have to. Before those three gin and tonics, I had a 1 a.m. visit to the pasta bar, and I had farfalle with pesto, and I didn't have it a couple of hours later. Oh God, it was terrible.
Riese: I've gotten sick on every Rosie Cruise, I think, once. Is that weird?
The Other Kate McKinnon
Riese: Did you know that there's another Kate McKinnon who makes jewelry?
Kate: Yes I did. I'm trying to outrank her on Google, but I don't know how. She comes up first.
Riese: You should get in touch with her.
Kate: Yeah I should. She's a metalsmith and a beadworker. I should reach out to her, and we could combine forces.
Riese: You could ask her for some jewelry. She makes metalwork and jewelry, doesn't she? Does she have the .com?
Kate: Yeah, I don't have a website. I just never got around to paying someone to make that. I have a Tumblr.
Riese: What do you put on it?
Kate: There is one video on it. I am very bad at self-promotion. Very, very bad. I never update my MySpace account. I never list my gigs or anything, I never get around to it. I just hope that people will show up.
Riese: I mean, you got a job doing comedy right out of college, and now you have a show, so obviously you don't need self-promotion. You're doing really good.
Kate: Well thank you!
Alex: Do you have any questions for Obama?
Kate: I have a lot of questions for Obama right now. I have three questions. When am I going to get married? When am I going to have health insurance? And suga, suga, how'd you get so fly? You're so cute, Barack.
The Big Gay Sketch Show will return to Logo in February of 2010. In the meantime, you can watch re-runs and wait for Kate 'Brink of Fame' McKinnon to update her tumblr and/or myspace and go see her at the Upright Citizens Brigade.