When I was in middle school, I was really obsessed with Saturday Night Live. I wanted to be Molly Shannon. I thought Superstar was the funniest thing ever. When I got my eighth grade diploma, I did “the superstar” in front of my whole school.
When it got time to pick which high school I’d go to, my parents really wanted me to go to this Humanities magnet, which was like a surefire way into Berkeley. But I visited and didn’t like it; the kids were boring. Then I heard about an arts high school and I was like, “I’m going there.” My dad was like, “So you’ll play bass.” I was like, “No, I want to be a comedian.” The school was all about serious theater acting, and you learn about Chekhov and Stanislavsky’s method and Molière and Shakespeare, but I really just wanted to be around actors. I told my dad I was auditioning for theater, and he was like, “Okay, do your thing, and I’ll see you at the Humanities magnet.” He didn’t think I would get in.
I auditioned, and I ended up getting in. The whole thing about the school is it was professionals in the field who teach at the same time, so it’s basically a bunch of failed actors. My voice and speech theater was a comedian who had her own one-woman show, and at the end of the year we had to take a scene from a play and make it different. I of course wanted to make it funny, so I do the scene and everyone in my class is laughing, and I feel really good about it, and my teacher knows that I wanted to be on Saturday Night Live, and it’s the end of the scene and the class gets really quiet. I’m 14 by the way.
The teacher looks at her paper and goes, “So, I just need to get this out of the way and do you a favor. I’m just going to tell you right now: you’re never going to be on Saturday Night Live. It’s never going to happen for you. Just concentrate on being the best actor you can.” Everyone in the class was like, “Whooaaaaaa…” I took that very seriously, and I just remember finishing class and running to the bathroom and crying my eyes out, feeling really defeated, like, okay, this isn’t going to happen for me, I guess I’ll concentrate on other things. I started getting really into Shakespeare, and at the same time I got really into music. I look back on it now and it’s so emo, but I started listening to Elliott Smith and Dashboard, a lot of Rilo Kiley, a lot of Ben Kweller, Jets to Brazil, and all this late-’80s, early-’90s pop punk. But that one instance deterred me from ever thinking that was a possibility in my life. Now the goal is, I just want to play on Saturday Night Live.