Vanessa Bayer, 14, was unhappy with sports and lusting over Jared Leto

Vanessa Bayer, 14, was unhappy with sports and lusting over Jared Leto ...

Today, sheas best-known for her Emmy-nominated seven-year career on Saturday Night Live and a slew of comedic roles in film and television. aI think I was actually quite far from the class clown. aNo one knew me as being funny until I was in college.a

ASo I think humor is a great way to remind people youare different now, even if they are too scared to express their feelings. aSo I felt like not being off-limits [to joke about] made it so we could talk to them.a A lot of times people will be like, aAre they different now?a Even if they aren''t, Bayer says. It''s quite a benefit that I embraced comedy as a hobby, because it was so helpful and empowering

Bayer now has begun discussing cancer once more in her loosely autobiographical Showtime series, I Love That for You. This follows Joanna (Bayer), a childhood cancer survivalist and home shopping network host, who has returned to control, becoming an unexpected surprise for her career when viewers respond to her heartbreaking cancer stories. Itas an exaggerated exploration of Bayera''s own sense of humor as a coping mechanism and unabashed appreciation for attention even when she was in treatment. If her 14-year

Bayer discusses watching scary movies at sleepovers, mining bar mitzvah season for her most memorable SNL character, and her QVC ailment.

When you were 14, you remember me back to 1995, when you were 14. What happened, and how did you feel about yourself and your life?

I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland. We had eighth grade, so I was always surrounded by older children, evidently trying to impress them. I believe that was probably the time when My So-Called Life was on a show that was probably my favorite show.

Was there a particular subject in school?

When I was in fifth grade, I became proficient in communication and French. In French classes, it seemed like every week we ate food.

Is there a reason to eat quite a lot of cheese? My French class wasn''t as simple as this.

A lot of my French teachers just liked food. They would also be like, aExtra credit. Everyone make like a galette.a I think I was even in the French club for a while, because the food there was even better!

Do you still remember any French, or are you out of practice?

Yes, I speak it. I mean, I wish I could understand it better. I can kind of understand it, and I can kind of speak it. Itasn''t as good as it was when I was in my French classes eating cake.

A couple of your very personal SNL characters are adolescents, such as Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy and the child actor Laura Parsons. What do you like about playing characters at that awkward age? Did you learn from your own experiences from the age of 14?

The kids are so much fun. When I was 13, the Bar Mitzvah Boy was inspired by when I was 13 years old. It''s very simple that the boys were learning to mature very slowly than the girls. But they would have to be on stage being really formal, and they would never know how to do so with their hands. I just think there''s something really interesting about that.

And then the child actor [Laura Parsons] a my school had this after-school theater program called Stagecrafters, which was actually popular. I donat think we had Laura Parsons sing, but the other thing I always thought was so funny was that whenever people in Stagecrafters would sing, they would all have a British accent suddenly. There are just these things that kids do.

Several of my experiences were inspired by my after-school theater program and then going to bar mitzvahs all the time. After I started doing the Bar Mitzvah Boy on SNL, a lot of people who are friends with my brother Jonah were like, aYouare doing an impression of Jonah. I think a lot of the gestures and things are still my brotheras gestures. He still hasnat quite a lot of growth.

I am sure you''ll be able to hear anything. Did you have a bat mitzvah?

I know, but I did. My brother had a traditional bar mitzvah where he had a good luncheon, and where a DJ was there. I had a lot of time when I got back on Masada, which was really a fantastic day. And then I sat at a Friday night service for kids. It wasn''t the most extravagant party, but I thought it was really fun.

When you was 14 and who idolized me, your character on I Love That for You grows up idolizing a host on a home shopping network. What did you see when you saw it?

When I was younger, I enjoyed a lot of house shopping, and I loved those two actors, Jane Treacy and Mary Beth Roe on QVC. I loved Party of Five, and I watched Melrose Place. Obviously saved by the Bell.

We would have sleepover parties where we would sit down and watch SNL. We would also have these parties where we would witness the only scary movie [we had]... April Foolas Day, which was this old scary film. But I don''t know why we watched it all the time. And then, so that we wouldn''t be scared going to sleep afterwards, we would see Mr. Limpet. That''s what we''ll all fall asleep to. It''s such a strange, specific thing.

Itas likely because someone had the VHS. You must watch whatever videos people had at their house, right?

You are absolutely right. Empire Records would be observed daily. I think a lot of people had it.

Is there a celebrity crush at 14?

Yes, Jared Leto from My So-Called Life was great. And Scott Wolf from Party of Five.

I know that your leukemia diagnosis was at 15, so you may see your character laying her illness back. What you found in your own life as a teenager, why did you choose it as a tool for situational comedy in a show?

I always loved attention when I was 14-year-old. So, if someone already loves attention, and then something happens to them a lot more often when they get leukemia. I would come in late school all the time, and the attendance lady would be like, aGo ahead.a And I was late because I was watching TV or sleeping in.

I thought it was more beneficial to bejoking around about it. It reminded my friends that I was still Vanessa, and that things hadat changed just because I was sick.

What made you and your family joking about it?

When my dad didnat get this speeding ticket, he came home and said, aI dropped the L-bomb!a I would joke with my friends, but this isnat a great joke, but Iad be like, aYou guys think youare so cool because your hair is real.a Because I was always wearing a wig.

You have passed it so often. What would your 14-year-old self think of you now, and are there any advice you would offer her?

I''m just contemplating doing interviews with [my co-stars] Molly Shannon and Jennifer Lewis this morning, just getting to work with those women, and just getting to do this show that''s inspired by my life... I believe that my 14-year-old daughter would be very happy.

This interview has been written and condensed for clarification.

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