Mo Polyak got the great news while riding the school bus.
An alumnus of both the Toronto and Chicago Mainstages, Lauren Ash made a name for herself all over North America before being cast in ABC’s Super Fun Night (alongside Rebel Wilson).
Lauren took a few moment to talk to SCN’s Editor-in-Chief Liz Kozak about the time she was threatened on stage, shitting one’s pants, and how a newspaper personal ad changed her life.
LK: What’s your earliest memory of making someone else laugh?
LA: I was 3 years old (I have a crazy-good memory of my childhood), and I was sitting at the kitchen table in my grandparents’ house. I was talking about how my tongue helps me speak. My mom asked me, “well, what if you didn’t have a tongue?” Without pausing, I said, “If I didn’t have a tongue, I’d speak French!” This brought the room DOWN. I think it may have been the biggest laugh I’ve gotten to date. I remember not understanding why it was SO funny at the time, but that I had to do whatever I could to try to get a laugh like that again.
LK: Describe your Second City experience in 5 words.
LA: Joyous. Difficult. Consuming. Fulfilling. Drunk.
LK: What’s the biggest differences between American and Canadian audiences?
LA: From my personal experience, Canadians love sketch premises that explore their country/culture’s foibles*. Basically, we like making fun of ourselves up there.
*Editor’s note: Don’t worry, I didn’t know what it meant, either. Foible: a minor fault in someone’s character or behavior
LA (continued): Americans, in my experience, weren’t so into those kinds of jokes. I’m not saying that one sensibility is better than the other, it was just a difference I’ve noted between SC Toronto and SC Chicago audiences. Also, I’ve only ever been threatened in the middle of a show by an American during an SC Chicago show. I guess Brad Morris and I portraying the President and First Lady of France was “UnAmerican.” Oops!
LK: What advice do you wish you’d gotten BEFORE you began auditioning for TV?
LA: The biggest piece of advice I can give is to have confidence. Even if you’re shitting your pants, fake it. People in audition rooms have commented to me over the years, “How are you so calm right now?!” when in reality, I was freaking out.
Honestly, the more confident you can pretend to be when you walk into a room, the better the chances are that you’ll book the part. I actually truly believe it has just as much to do with confidence as it does talent. And hey, you’re an actor, right? So ACT confident!
LK: How did you develop your Super Fun Night character, Marika?
LA: Back when I was on the Mainstage in Toronto around 2007, we did an improv set where we cut out little personal ads from a newspaper and put them in a hat. Each of us drew one, and that became the inspiration for our character for the set that night. Mine said something like “woman who enjoys roller coasters and hard rock concerts seeks man who likes same.” This inspired a closeted lesbian character who really wanted to make people believe she was straight— when in reality, she was deeply struggling with her sexuality inside.
This became one of my favourite characters to play while at Second City. I pitched scenes with her in them many times but they never made a revue. Still, she was someone that I brought out in improv sets from time to time and a character I would use in auditions when asked for character monologues.
When I read the pilot script for Super Fun Night, I lost my mind. “It’s my character!” I was HUGELY confident going into that audition. And part of the audition process for SFN was to write a monologue in the voice of the character. I could not have been more excited. Needless to say, Marika is a version of this character that I developed from a newspaper ad years ago, and I could not be more proud that she’s made it onto network TV!
LK: What projects do you have coming down the pipeline that you’re excited about?
LA: My sketch duo CORY! (with fellow SC Toronto alum Leslie Seiler) will be performing our latest sketch revue titled “TMI” as a part of the Women in Comedy Festival in Boston in May. We also plan to bring the show to New York, Chicago and L.A. as soon as possible. I will keep you posted about dates!
LK: Who is the funniest person the world doesn’t know about (yet)?
LA: Well, lots of people in the world know her, but I would have to say my sketch partner Leslie Seiler. She is hilarious and the work that we create together (we’ve been writing together for over 10 years now) is the stuff that I’m the most proud of.