Q: Before you went to "SNL" you were performing at Second City. What most people may not realize is that working at Second City suddenly means you're getting paid full-time to do comedy. That's a huge life change for most performers. What were you doing to support yourself before that?
A: I did (the Chicago-based musical improv show) "Baby Wants Candy," so we toured with that show to Indiana and Ohio. I could live just barely on that, and then I worked part-time at a barbershop.
Q: What kind of work did you did at the barbershop?
A: Sweeping up hair, baby! Folding towels, receptionist stuff. I worked at one on Southport and Addison. They were very cool, they would let me go for weeks at a time on tour. I graduated from Columbia in 2009, and I was doing sketch and improv in college, so I guess I started performing in 2005 or 2006. I did Second City for two years and then I was hired to "SNL" in 2012. So I was here for about six years.
Q: You and your husband started dating in Chicago. How did you meet?
A: Weirdly, we both were performing at the Annoyance in these things called "Triple Features," which were 20-minute plays and they would do three in a night, so I was in one, and he was in a different one. Afterwards he was like, "You were so funny!"
And I hadn't watched his, but I was like, "And so were you!" Like, fully lied to his face right off the bat because I thought he was cute.
And then it just so happened that the next night we were both performing in shows at iO, and we saw each other again and were like, "Oh, hey!" And then he asked for my number.
Q: He's a former writer for "Late Night with Seth Meyers." Did you both go to New York at the same time?
A: He came with me right away. We had been together for a while, and we didn't want to break up and didn't want to do long-distance. So it was like, come with me on this adventure, let's see what happens.
It truly was an incredible miracle and an accidental fluke of timing, he got accepted to this Just for Laughs showcase of new faces, and Seth Meyers was there and saw him, not knowing he was my boyfriend but was just like, I love this guy and think he's a genius. So he basically was like, I want this guy to be part of developing my talk show.
So it was a really crazy time for both of us, putting into action everything we had been working on together here for years and years. It was a weird, wonderful miracle that we both got amazing jobs in New York in television at the same time basically. I still to this day remember a weird moment being like, "Seth, that guy you hired, that's my boyfriend." And Seth had hired me at "SNL," so I feel like we always owe it all to Seth Meyers.
Q: Do you see yourself staying in New York even after "SNL"?
A: I don't know, I think we honestly always feel like creatures of Chicago. To me, this is where I found myself and where I'm meant to be in a lot of ways. We love to come back _ Conner's family is here, we come back a lot. We were just at O'Hare and like, "This just feels good!" (Laughs) It's so stupid, but we love it!
Even the lady who picked us up from the airport, she was talking about Dinkel's and all these Chicago bakeries and that's all we want to do, talk Chicago bakeries with other people who grew up in Chicago! Conner's really from the city, he grew up in Lincoln Square, so that's part of what I fell in love with too.
We love living in New York, but I don't know where we'll go or what will happen.
Q: I always wonder if someone can have a career at your level and do it from Chicago.
A: It's something we've talked about a lot because I want to have kids someday and I would love to live here.
But I don't know, it's really hard. Even living in New York, I was not there for five months (last year) because I was writing "Shrill" in LA and shooting in Portland. Then throw another city in the mix? It's a lot. And I'm a homebody, I like to go home.
Q: On "SNL" it feels like you and Kate McKinnon have a mind-meld relationship.
A: (Laughs) Totally. We started together, so you always feel very close to those people because you're kind of clinging to each other in the beginning. And then Kate and I shared an office and we'd write together.
Also we just click. We get each other and we're of the same mind about: We take our work seriously but we also want to be friends and don't want to put work ahead of being friends. You put in a lot of hours at "SNL," that is the hardest thing, so you cry or you get tired or you get sick or someone in your family gets ill, and you're still at work. So (laughs) you can't help but become really, really close.
Q: There was that "Weekend Update" bit you did together earlier this month with that basket of raw meat and you were trying not to laugh ...
A: Yes! That is a favorite of mine! It's one of my favorite things ever.
Q: Part of what was so funny was that neither of you could ignore how rank the meat smelled _ do you think it had just been sitting out until the show?
A: OK, so we did not have the meat at rehearsal during the day. The premise was, it was a business sort of like Omaha Steaks called Smokery Farms, where they were only selling the meat of mean animals so you don't have to feel bad.
(Laughs) Anna Drezen, who wrote it with Kate and I, she has a dog and I have a dog, and we often talk about our dogs together and we talk about how they remind us of pigs and how it's making it hard for us to eat meat. And Conner has completely stopped eating meat because of our dog, basically. It's become, like, a problem (laughs)! So we were talking about that and that's how we got that idea.
So during rehearsals that day we were using pictures of meat. And then we were like, eh, maybe it's better if we have the actual meat packages or whatever.
When we got out there for dress rehearsal, the prop was much smaller and you kind of almost couldn't tell what was happening. So for the live show it was much bigger, much more meat (laughs) and all jammed in this thing.
And we didn't see it 20 minutes before, we saw it right as we were coming out and I think it had just been in a closet, waiting. Or maybe it was in a fridge, I don't know. But it was very pungent. And Kate is vegan or a vegetarian, I think vegetarian, and I barely eat meat. And we were both like, this is wild! So for us it was like, how can we move on without acknowledging what's happening, you have to!
Q: How did the '70s cop show parody "Dyke and Fats" come about? Les Dykawitz and Chubbina Fatzarelli, Chicago cops, "kicking crime to the curb and doing it damn well!"
A: Basically we were in our office and Kate would lovingly be like (in third person): "Man, Dyke is tired", and I would be like, "So is Fats." Or if we had written a sketch that ate (garbage) we'd be like: "Dyke and Fats strike again!"