Vanessa Bayer spent seven years on Saturday Night Live, playing pop icons, child newscasters, Bar-Mitzvah boys, and Totinos-loving housewives, but her latest show on Showtime demonstrates her a brand-new character: herself.
Well, it''s a good thing.
I Love That For You is a half-hour comedy about a woman who, after surviving childhood cancer, finds her dream job at a home-shopping network. She ends up flubbing her chance at stardom so spectacularly that the only way she can keep her on-air slot is to lie about her cancer recurrence. It''s a wild claim, which may not be beneficial for anyone except the former SNL breakout.
When Bayer was young, she experienced childhood leukemia and that desire has shaped her comedy career in one direction or another. With this new series, along with comedy stars like Molly Shannon and Jenifer Lewis, she wants to transcend the boundaries of how likable she is and pay tribute to a fascinating world we never seen before.
I suppose the answer you will get the most is, how much of this story is removed from your actual life?
I was diagnosed with leukemia when I was 15 and so I needed to play catch-up with being kind of adult, and some of that is explored in the book. A lot of it is different from my previous experiences of surviving certain moments. Also the fact that I was always a fan of caring for it, and so when I was treated, I really loved all the attention I received for it, as well as all the special treatment and everything.
Ive always wanted to do something where I delved into that because I do think it is a funny take on that time and a funny way that I handle issues that many individuals do, because why not? Weve earned it.
Speaking of, your character makes a kind of stupid choice at the start of the season, but she is still someone you end up rooting for every episode. How did you manage to make me feel like someone who has cancer?
We wanted to show that she tells this lie, and then it''s hard for her. In comedy, I understand that I am generally able to, if it is because I smile so much or because I look sort of innocent, but I have been able to get away with making unlikable characters fairly acceptable. It''s a bit of a thing I can get rid of. And it''s a matter of time I''ve cleared myself so I can see how far I get this done before people have enough.
Did you ever second-guess your choice to produce a TV show based on a personal struggle in your life?
I used to do standup about this time, and I had always thought about different things I could do. I tried to film a movie about it once with a friend. I think the thing about this now is that I have really much experience working in comedy, and I have a lot of distance from it. I always wanted to do something about this, but I also wanted to do something about home shopping because it is the most amusing, frightening, incredible world.
So getting to do those things together was really a dream come true. When I was finished with SNL, I was planning a home shopping show that I could create, and then I went with my friend and now co-create Jeremy Byler. At the same time, we both worked independently on SNL and we never met each other. So, my character seemed to get into this relationship, and we never met one another. And at the same time, I was thinking about doing something different when I was cancer.
How much QVC product have you purchased over the years?
I thought about this one a lot when I was young so I didn''t have my own money, so I remember remembering once my mother purchased this ring that was rose gold, yellow gold, and white gold. What a beautiful piece that is
All the golds.
So, when Jeremy and I discovered that Showtime would purchase our show, we bought each of our three Showtime executives who we work with the most. So we went on the QVC website and bought each of them a blanket by Casada Jones, which is Catherine Zeta-Jones homewares line. And they have all stated that they love these blankets. That they look so soft.
Catherine Zeta-Jones is on QVC selling blankets?
Catherine Zeta-Jones is so happy with his selling on QVC, and it''s another really fun thing about home shopping is a lot of times these really huge celebrities will come on and sell items from these lines they have. And it''s so fun to watch because there are always people who call into home shopping and want to talk with her colleagues and vendors. But then there are people calling in because they want to talk to Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Is she going to be on the show at some point then?
I hope that she hears or sees this at some point. But it just kind of makes sense, does it?
It''s quite meta, but you might see her sell her own products in an episode.
The situation is absolutely remarkable. She would be able to get to work.
More people would learn more about the blankets. It can only help her.
She is seeking our help.
On the show, Molly Shannon plays your mentor. Did you two exchange stories about your SNL glory days?
I think she''s still close with Lorne. I think we both feel like we got so much out of that job. Because you get to know all of the parts of the business, you get to know what the wardrobe is, what the set looks like, and all the stuff. It''s absolutely wonderful to get you ready for the rest of your career. It''s also good to learn that early that like, just don''t take yourself too seriously because everybody is working hard.
Whats the difference between one sketch you presented that you were shocked to see in the live show?