Interview: Natasha Leggero on the need for political comedy, Another Period and sharing sex jokes with Moshe Kasher

Interview: Natasha Leggero on

 

Despite her nonplussed attitude, comedian Natasha Leggero truly believes in the healing power of political comedy.

“I’m spoiled, I hang out with comedians all the time so I’m constantly around some of the funniest people ever, who can process things and say dark things,” she says during our phone call ahead of her upcoming shows at Just for Laughs later this month. “But the average person might not have anyone to talk to, and they’re just watching the news and trying to figure out what’s happening. So I can totally see why someone would want to come to a comedy show and want to hear what someone thinks about it.”

The co-creator and star of the Comedy Central Gilded Age parody Another Period (alongside Riki Lindhome), Leggero is currently out on the Endless Honeymoon co-headlining tour with her husband, fellow comic Moshe Kasher (read our interview with Kasher here).

We caught up with Leggero to talk about the similarities between the Gilded Age and the age of Trump, her impulse online purchases, and sharing sex jokes with Kasher.

Natasha Leggero hosts All Access Live at Club Soda, Friday July 28, 7:00 and 10:00 pm. Tickets are $40.99 plus tax, available here.

Is it nice to be getting out of the States right now?

I mean, I’ve pretty much stopped checking the news, I can’t really handle it right now. But it’s very nice to come to a place that we’ll probably all end up. Should I start looking for a home?

How did the first run on your Endless Honeymoon Tour go?

It was really fun, we did just the West Coast, and so now we’re doing the Midwest and the East Coast. We picked nine of our favourite cities, and they’re destination dates, so you know, you could come to any of these cities — Miami, Chicago — you could not even live there but come spend the weekend and have a fun time and come see the show. We tried to do it in great cities.

Is it going to be hard to go back to doing side markets after doing something like that?

Um, I’m not really that big in side markets. [Laughs] I try to play cities that have a Museum of Modern Art and know what sparkling water is.

Does touring together give you good material? Have you ever had to fight over who gets to use a story in their act?

No, not necessarily that, but Moshe and I will both have bits about some of the same things that are happening in our lives. So if he goes first on the Honeymoon Tour, sometimes I won’t be able to do my bit about that particular thing because he’s already talked about it so much. So, the jokes are different but sometimes the subject matter is similar, so we try to switch off. Sometimes he’ll tell his joke about people cuming on — I don’t want to say it, never mind it’s too dirty. [Laughs] We both have jokes about men masturbating to feet.

You’re doing part of the set together?

Yeah, so I’ll do a headlining set, he’ll do a headlining set, sometimes he’ll go first then I’ll go. Then both of us will do live relationship counseling for volunteers in the audience. They come up on-stage and it’s been very fruitful, I feel like Moshe and I have been married for almost a year and a half now, so that certainly makes us qualified to give relationship advice. Sometimes it’s really fun and light and we’re able to like, really give people some healthy solutions to figuring out their little problems with their partner’s pet peeves. One woman didn’t want the dog to sleep on the bed, he wants the dog to sleep on the bed, so we found a nice way for it to work out for them. You put a sheet down, the dog gets to have their cuddle time on the bed with you while you’re watching TV, then as soon as it’s time for bed, the dog goes off the bed. But then there was this guy who was like, “My mother didn’t hug me until I was 16.” It’s like, I don’t think we’re qualified to help with that. You need to bring in a real psychotherapist.




How did the idea come about to incorporate that into the shows?

I’m not exactly sure. I think we just did it once as a joke or something, and then it just worked really well, and we just kept doing it. That’s usually how bits work, you know? You have an idea and go, “Would this be something?” And then you try it. Sometimes you never try it again, and it was  a terrible idea and you forget about it. But sometimes you try it, it works great. You try it again, you keep growing,  you add to it and it becomes a whole thing. That’s why stand-up is great.

Are you discussing current politics in your act? It doesn’t seem like you’d ever be worried about offending an audience.

Definitely not worried about offending, but I’m not a political comedian. However, I feel like now we’re all just political comedians because everyone is in a state of despair. Any thinking, feeling person who is sane is in a bit of a tail-spin, and it’s been really hard. I haven’t quite figured out a way to process that, except in very obvious ways that affect me, like the fact that the administration is still trying to over-turn Roe v. Wade. There’s some very obviously insane things that are happening that affect women.

You’ve mentioned that not everyone is necessarily good at political comedy — do you think we’re seeing too much of that middle-ground?

I mean the people that I’m seeing mentioning it, it’s funny, and I think we need an outlet, we need a release.

If someone can come up with great jokes that make fun of this administration I think people need to hear it.

I’m spoiled, I hang out with comedians all the time so I’m constantly around some of the funniest people ever, who can process things and say dark things. But the average person might not have anyone to talk to, and they’re just watching the news and trying to figure out what’s happening. So I can totally see why someone would want to come to a comedy show and want to hear what someone thinks about it. Maybe it’s good that we all become a bit more political.

Has any of that infused the current season of Another Period in any way?

Definitely, for season three, we were in the writer’s room, and we about 3/4 of the way done writing, and then that guy got elected. Obviously after like three days of everyone just in a total state of shock, we started really writing our character Frederick, played by Jason Ritter, we decided since he’s already in politics, that maybe he should become the President. So, we got very inspired by that.

And I’m sure there’s always been awful people as leaders, so it’s not like this is the first time. I think there’s some very specific things that are making this worse than maybe it has been in the past. But it’s been fun to examine what the 1902 version of this is. We actually re-wrote a bunch of stuff, because we were writing from the sense of what this is going to be like when it airs and there’s a woman President? We were writing from this place of predicting where we were going to be in six months, and of course that didn’t happen. Because our show is slightly satirical, we had to kind of re-work some things.

What was the initial inspiration for Another Period? What spoke to you about that era?

The Gilded Age is such a fascinating era, it’s definitely not over-done. People are always obsessed with the 20’s because of prohibition and gangsters and everyone likes the violence and the hairstyles. The 20’s are kind of the most glamorous era, but from 1900 – 1912 or 1915, the rich were living — 90% of the wealth in all of America was in this area of Newport, Rhode Island. Rich people were living with like 30 indoor servants and 30 outdoor servants. They didn’t pay income tax, people like Rockefeller and Carnegie, they were billionaires then, and they got to keep every penny of their money. There would just be ships of poor people coming in from Ireland and Australia and they would essentially be their live-in servants / slaves. The servants didn’t really have free time, they would live in these hovels underneath the house, or on top of the house. They weren’t allowed to date or drink, it was a pretty crazy time in history. The gap between the rich and poor was so huge. And what’s really interesting about it when you study that time period is that we’re pretty much entering another one of those Gilded Ages, and people have now found out how to legally not pay taxes so they can keep all of their money. So it’s not that different now. And it’s going to get worse!




You’ve mentioned before in interviews that you grew up pretty modestly, did anything about the excess of that era make it more appealing?

Oh, of course! It’s a very glamorous time. It’s wasteful, but there would be like a bathtub that we saw in one of the houses that had a choice between regular water and salt-water, that they would purify from the sea. There was this ballroom that we visited that had the whole ceiling of the ballroom that fit 400 people, was made from tortoise shells, and they were held with this type of glue that you could only get by killing little rabbits. I mean, they would have a dinner party for their dogs. It’s very inspiring for comedy, because a lot of the stuff you don’t even have to make up.

There was this one woman who kept changing her mansion to be further from the sea because the humidity was ruining her hair. These people were just like, truly insane.

Your role on Dice is so great, what’s it like working with Andrew Dice Clay on that show?

Well, he is a very interesting person. You wouldn’t think he would be such a good actor. He’s one of those people who’s very funny on-stage and very funny off-stage when he doesn’t even realize he’s being funny. He’s constantly doing crazy things, he’s just a very unique person. I don’t know, maybe I could move to the neighbourhood he grew up in and everybody would be like him! [Laughs]

That’s what’s great about comedians, they’re like these rare birds that you kind of find and they just see the world in this very specific way, and we watch them process their thoughts and it’s hopefully unique and funny and interesting and like something you’ve never heard before. And Dice is definitely one of those types of people.

I read that you do loads of online shopping. What’s the best impulse purchase you’ve made?

I bought a tea tent from India to put in my yard so I can have some shade while I sit and read. [Laughs] It was definitely an impulse purchase, but I’m glad I have it.

Natasha Leggero hosts All Access Live at Club Soda, Friday July 28, 7:00 and 10:00 pm. Tickets are $40.99 plus tax, available here

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