Let’s hear from brilliant actress & creator of characters, G.L.O.C. JILL DONNELLY, about her show and subsequent web series AMNESIA.
When did you first come up with the idea for Amnesia?
The premise was initially a birthday video piece that I developed for Maude team auditions (sketch comedy from some of UCBT’s best sketch writers and performers in NY & LA). When we went to extend it into a thirty minute show, my collaborator, Amy Flanagan, and I wanted to go a little darker. Birthday to murder – your basic heightening.
What are you hoping people take away from your the show?
My favorite moments of the show are when the characters are so sad it’s funny. For instance, there’s a lesbian character, Grace, who is desperately in love with her straight co-worker. She knows they will never be together, so she settles for a painful friendship. Her monologue ends with her singing, “I Can’t Make You Love Me (If You Don’t),” while slowly grape-vining across the stage. Trust me, it’s kind of sad. I hope it gets a laugh.
Can you talk a little about the creative process with Amnesia overall?
Sure. Amy and I met once a week for a few months and ran through the material I brought in. Sometimes, it was half of an idea – a catch phrase or a person from my life – and we’d tease it out through improv. Other times, I’d walk in with a full monologue and we’d fine-tune the writing. We went through several drafts and lots of rewrites before we felt like showing it to an audience. Along the way, School Night (at UCB NY) was a great way to try out certain jokes and characters.
What are your future goals with the show/series?
Hm. I don’t have any specific goals for this production. I had a great time running it at UCB NY and I’ve done several performances out at UCB LA (the next one is December 9th!). I’ve also adapted the show into a four part web series. It’s the first time I’ve worked on a piece for so long and it’s been a real learning experience. After 2 years, it still feels like a work in progress. In its newest iteration, I’m bringing in a new character and a power point presentation which feels pretty fancy.
What past projects of yours are you most proud of and why?
I’m really proud of the work I’ve done with some of the sketch teams I’ve been on. In particular, 27 Kidneys and Hot Mess have had some ridiculous shows. Oh, and last year, I did a Harold immediately after donating blood and I didn’t pass out. I’m still patting myself on the back for that one.
What do you hope to see in the future from women in comedy?
I hope to hear less of the “Women ARE funny!” discussion. That Christopher Hitchen’s article was offensive and horrible, but worst of all, it made everyone feel like they had to defend themselves. I say, let’s just reject the premise of the question and move along. Mostly I’m involved with improv, and there are more and more women getting involved in that scene. When I started, everyone warned me that it was a boys club, but I haven’t found that to be the case.
Do you feel a divide between men and women in the comedy world?
Well, it’s not a boy’s club, but the numbers are still skewed. I think that’s the main divide. I get really irked when I hear people talk about male humor verses female humor. There’s such a spectrum of voices among comics that I don’t think we can group them by gender.
What advice would you impart to ladies just starting out in the world – o – comedy?
Again, I mostly do the improv thing so here’s my advice to new improvisers: 1. Play around a lot. 2. Work with the funniest people you know. 3. Don’t be too hard on yourself – it’s just pretend. Finding game, initiating, doing strong support work – it’s all like the NYC subway system: it takes a while to figure out the basics and even then you’ll still get lost sometimes… or it’s closed on the weekends or you have to take a shuttle to Jay St. after 9pm… well, you get the idea. The metaphor breaks down pretty quickly.
Who are you inspired by right now?
I’m pretty inspired by a lot of people right now. It’s so hard to choose!
Who would you like to hear from next on the blog?
I’d love to see future interviews with Chelsea Peretti, Christine Nangle, Kate Mckinnon, Shannon O’Neill, Andrea Rosen, Maria Bamford, Tami Sagher, Kristen Schaal, and 400 others… god, I love that you’re doing this.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I think that’s it! Thanks again for thinking of me, Glennis. It’s a real honor!
If you live in LA you’d be remiss to miss Jill’s next performance of Amnesia at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (5919 Franklin Ave.) on December 9th at 8pm. [Reservations: http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/reservations/create/18635]
The rest of us can delight in her beautifully shot and acted web series. Here’s episode one:
Watch the whole series here: http://www.jill-donnelly.com/p/amnesia.html