Melissa Steckbauer recently sat down with out comic and The Big Gay Sketch Show star Kate McKinnon for a candid interview after her recent performance during “Closet Cases” in New York City.
MS: I read that you outed yourself in theatre camp and at your Methodist church. Was that an opportunity for empowerment as a kid or did you feel alienated?
KM: I was speaking at a banquet at theater camp in front of 250 people and thought, “Wouldn’t it be wacky if I came out during this speech?” So I kind of slipped it in there while talking about how I finally was able to be authentic in this very special place, etc.
It was scary but it was fun.
But then my Methodist church…I think it was my mother’s idea…we have a congregation that is technically welcoming of gay people (a reconciling congregation) but about half the church doesn’t like gay people, or assumes that no one at the church is actually gay, so she thought, “Wouldn’t it be wacky if you made a speech about what it was like growing up gay in the church?” And I did, and I cried, and everyone else cried and gave me a standing ovation, even people who I know would rather not have gay people at church.
MS: Then you graduated from Columbia, The Big Gay Sketch Show scooped you up right, and then you met Rosie O’Donnell, peed your pants, called your mother—this whole thing.
KM: Right, right, right, that whole thing.
MS: And now your sort of…celebretized. How do you feel being a gay person doing these things, I mean a young person–relatively speaking, how do you feel?
KM: I feel great! I came out young–I’ve been doing the lesbian thing for a while–so I’m prepared for it in that way. Artistically, I don’t feel prepared for any of the things that I do and that people are going to find out I’m a fraud. I’ve bombed a lot doing stand-up and in doing solo shows, and that’s hard because I know that it’s not just something I’m trying out–it’s something I’ve committed to do for my profession, and sometimes when I bomb I think, “Oooo…well, clearly, I need a new life plan.” Sometimes it’s embarrassing. But I am unbelievably fortunate to have been swept up into this world. And I had no idea I would be. I thought I was just gonna be bartending for 15 years.
MS: Do you have a broad fan base? Do you have a queer base and a straight base?
KM: I started doing videos on AfterEllen.com, I do a series called “Celesbian Interviews” with Julie Goldman, and we have The Big Gay Sketch Show, so I’ve got like a gay fan base there, but I decided I wanted to try to do something that had nothing to do with the fact that I’m gay, so I started doing a solo show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater called “Disenchanted.” The last performance of it is on the 29th of this month. So that went really well, I did it for six months, and it has one monologue that has gay stuff in it, but otherwise it’s not gay at all. I wanted to become part of the New York comedy scene, gay or not, and I feel like I’ve made a tiny bit of headway there.
MS: In an interview on “She Said What” on AfterEllen.com, you mentioned that you want to be Ellen, but Ellen’s very mainstream. Do you still want to be on the fringe?
KM: No, I don’t still want to be Ellen. Now I would like to be Tracy Ulman.
MS: You have talked about your lonesome experience at Columbia and I wonder if you could talk about your affection for outcasts. Do you still have that affinity?
KM: Absolutely! I don’t know what it is… Whenever I go to a dog park, I’m always drawn to the one dog that’s in the corner, sad, not talking to any of the other dogs, not knowing what to do with itself. I’m fascinated by mental illness and depression and sadness and people who just cannot connect to other people, because I feel like that a lot. So those are the characters that I’m drawn to, those are the characters that I want to play, and that’s what I feel like Tracy Ullman specializes in as well. Her new show “State of the Union” on Showtime, is, I mean, sometimes you can’t even laugh, it just knocks the wind right out of you, it’s so devastating. It’s brilliant and
it’s so funny, but it’s also like, “oh god, these are the saddest people in the world.” And I love it.
MS: Which non-profits do you support? Do you have any interest in working for PRIDEs?
KM: I haven’t really thought about where to lend my energies. I feel like just being a part of The Big Gay Sketch Show and being a part of the LOGO network is my way of giving back to the community. But I would like one day to write a book maybe about growing up gay–not that we don’t have enough books about growing up gay–or work with gay teenagers. When I was 15, I went to a support group for gay teenagers at an organization on Long Island called “Pride For Youth”, and that really helped me, so maybe one day I’d like to give back to an organization like that.
MS: What can we expect from the next season of The Big Gay Sketch Show?
KM: We’re not filming until March, so it won’t come out until probably next summer or next Fall. I have no idea what to expect, except creatively our second season was leagues better than our first, so the third season should be just dynamite. I’m very excited because we all know each other and we all love each other. We only get to work together for six weeks out of the year, but we’ve built something that really feels like a family, so I think it’s gonna be great.
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For more on Kate McKinnon and The Big Gay Sketch Show, please visit http://www.logoonline.com/shows/dyn/big_gay_sketch_show_2/series.jhtml.
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