Let’s hear from G.L.O.C.s CAITLIN TEGART & LEILA COHAN-MICCIO about their web series VAG MAGAZINE, creative process and comedy crushes. Kick it!
Had you and Caitlin worked together before?
Leila: Caitlin directed my show This Is About Smith, which ran for six months at UCBNY earlier this year. Though Caitlin and I only knew each other tangentially, I knew I wanted to work with her after I saw How Rude! Anyone who writes a sketch about Jennifer Love Hewitt is good by me. The Smith cast, not at all coincidentally, makes up the bulk of Vag’s core cast: Jocelyn Guest, Kate McKinnon, Nicole Drespel, Sarah Claspell, and Veronica Osorio.
What inspired Vag Magazine?
Caitlin: Leila and I both had a love/hate relationship with feminist magazines and both loved to make fun of them with our friends. I pitched the idea of doing a web series to Leila because we had worked well together on her sketch show, This Is About Smith, which she wrote and I directed. We loved the cast and wanted to see us all move into a longer lasting medium.
How does the stage show differ from the series?
Leila: This Is About Smith and Vag Magazine definitely share a sensibility and, I imagine, a similar fan base, but the characters and settings are totally different. Vag Magazine is more character-based whereas Smith was game-based.
Can you talk a little about the creative process with the show?
Caitlin: Leila and I wrote each character for the cast member who plays her, and then outlined the series together. We wrote the first and last episodes like side-by-side and passed the others back and forth. I honestly can’t remember which jokes I wrote. Then we brought our producer, Nicole Shabtai, and director, Zach Neumeyer on and they took it to another level.
What do you hope people take away from the show?
Leila: I mean, I just want America to fall in love with Fennel. More practically, though, I hope that comedians see Vag Magazine as encouragement to write what’s funny and unique to you. The response to Vag has been so overwhelmingly positive and I think that’s due to the fact that, rather than trying to appeal to the broadest possible audience, we went with what we thought was really funny and let that resonate with a specific group.
What are your future goals with the series?
Leila: We’re working on Season Two right now! We’re currently in pre-production and we’re planning to shoot in January and, hopefully, release it in Spring 2011. Other than that, our real goal is just for everyone who should see it to see it: whether that’s industry, Rachel Maddow (I just think she’d like it!), or that girl from your women’s studies class sophomore year who was always wearing a Bitch and Animal tee.
What writing are you most proud of and why?
Caitlin: I am most proud of any writing that an actor or director is psyched to collaborate with me on. Specifically, in Vag Magazine, it’s a small moment, but I love when Reba (Leslie Meisel) pitches an idea to Cunt editor Jay Bird (Shannon O’Neill) and Jaybird dismisses her. I love that Jaybird already knows who this person is and how to handle her; it really indicates the contours of this world and suggests relationships they’ve all had for a long time.
Leila: I’m proud when I write successful comedy that also gets a point across. There’s nothing I hate more than applause comedy – you know, when the goal is to get you to clap, not laugh – but if you can get a joke and a point out at the same time, that’s amazing. For that reason, I’m really happy with the Amaryllis Cross scene in Episode 3.
What do you hope to see in the future from women in comedy?
Caitlin: Confidence! Just putting stuff out there without any fear of getting it “wrong.” I think women still worry too much about looking dumb. This is comedy! You’re probably wearing a chicken costume! Of course you look dumb! OWN IT!
Leila: UCB women are killing it these days, from web stuff Broad City and Very Mary Kate to female-centric sketch and one-person shows like Sing Out, Louise!, Citizen Rothstein, Prison Freaks, The C Word, Love Can Suck a Dick…And So Can I to improv groups like M.A.D. and Doppleganger. I hope that trend continues. In the larger world, I’d love to see more movies and TV shows where women are free to make huge comedic choices and play real people, not just one-dimensional love interests. Also, can someone please write a movie where Busy Phillips and Anna Faris play sisters? They’re both so underutilized.
Do you feel a divide between men and women in the comedy world?
Leila: Intellectually/anecdotally, I know it exists, but I’ve never experienced much. In every writers room I’ve been in, it’s just about whether you can keep up with the poop jokes. Poop jokes transcend gender.
What advice would you impart to ladies just starting out in comedy?
Caitlin: Probably the same I would give to men: be confident and don’t wait for any opportunities to come to you. Make things happen!
Leila: Just do it! No one is going to give you an invitation to do what you love. You just have to do the work and put yourself out there without worrying too much about whether people will like it.
Who are you inspired by in the comedy world and why?
Caitlin: Shannon O’Neill! She’s always pushing herself and she serves her art and her voice first! She doesn’t seem to worry about status or being cool. And that’s how she became the coolest.
Kate Spencer! Early on in my UCB career, she made me feel OK about loving reality TV and social media. It’s our culture, it’s fun: it should be a part of comedy.
Pam Murphy: her current show, The C Word, might actually be too good. She’s someone I always thought of as a huge talent, and then her new show blew me away.
Leila: Besides the people Caitlin mentioned:
-Lennon Parham: she actually taught the class where Caitlin and I met and, even though I don’t do improv anymore, her insights about connecting with characters were super influential on my writing.
-Elaine Carroll: I think Very Mary Kate is one of the funniest web series out there.
Who would you like to hear from next on the blog?
Caitlin: Besides everyone I already mentioned, the women of M.A.D. and Doppelganger, Melissa Gomez, Fran Gillespie, and Molly Lloyd!
Leila: Aside from any/everyone in the Vag cast and the many crazy funny ladies already mentioned by other interviewees: Beth Appel! Julie Klausner! Sue Galloway!
Watch episode one of Vag Magazine here: