Lauren Ash previews working with Molly Shannon on SUPER FUN NIGHT
Tonight on ABC, Molly Shannon guest stars on SUPER FUN NIGHT as a love guru who takes her cues from the jungle cats of the wild. In anticipation of what should be a great episode, I spent some time chatting with Lauren Ash, who plays Marika. We talked about the show, fan reaction, working with Molly, and why co-star Kevin Bishop called her a disgusting woman and brought her to tears (of laughter).
One of the big things I wondered as I’m watching – seeing what Marika has to go through – does that get difficult, does it get hard to stay in character sometimes?
I feel like I love this character so much and it’s very similar to a character that I used to do at The Second City, so I feel very grounded when I play her, but I will say that it is difficult reacting to other people when we’re filming [laughs]. If we’re improvising something, which we do a lot of times, for sure, where it’s pretty tough, but we do a pretty good job of keeping it together. We’re pretty diligent about not cracking up during takes; once in a while, it’ll happen, but we usually save the laughter. You’ll wait, and hear cut, and then all of us you’ll hear [laughs] convulsing with laughter. It’s pretty funny.
The show’s been doing great – what kind of feedback are you hearing from fans at this point?
The thing that I’ve been hearing a lot that I really love –there are a lot of high school age girls that contacted us via social media and just told us that they feel like they see themselves in the characters on the show, and it makes them feel like there’s a voice for people who don’t necessarily feel like they’re that cool or super popular, and seeing themselves in us, which could not make us feel happier. I cried, I got a letter from a girl who is in high school in Michigan, and she was talking about much I had inspired her, and how much she loved the character and related to the character, and I mean, I sobbed. I think that’s the coolest thing. If you can do something that not only is funny, but also has heart, and young people can kind of relate to in a positive way, I feel like that’s a real dream scenario!
Oh you’re totally right – the characters are relateable. It’s so funny how much confidence everyone has, but also they’re totally not confident, ha! The characters approach everything with gusto, no matter how they seem to really feel.
It’s funny that you say that – one of my favorite things about Marika is that she’s always on board. She pushes herself. My best friend and I, one time she called me, and she was like “I need your help” and my response was “When, now? I’ll put on pants.” And so that’s become my best friend Leslie and I’s go-to phrase. It represents like, no questions asked, I am there for you. That’s just how we are, and that’s what our loyalty is. I feel like that sums up Marika. She’s always just like “when, now? I’ll put on pants.” What’s cool, too, is that we get to see her be vulnerable. Because for so long, she’s been so ready to go and always on board, there have been a couple of episodes where we’ve seen her go out of her comfort zone and that makes her vulnerable. It’s really cool to see someone who has this false sense of confidence get called on it and get pushed to a point where she’s not necessarily comfortable. That’s something so real and relatable that I love about her the most.
Talking about the upcoming episode with Molly Shannon – talk a little bit about “The Love Lioness” –
I just have to start by saying that Molly was honestly one of my idols. She’s a huge influence on me, and I loved her so much on SNL, so getting to work with her was a total surreal dream come true. She, I also have to say, is one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met, just truly, just the best. We had so much stupid fun. It’s just dumb how much fun we had! She plays this amazing character, the Love Lioness, where she’s created this kind of way to trap a man basically. The kind of ideas that jungle cats would use to catch prey – she makes that an allegory for the dating world, and Kimmie, Rebel’s character, gets really on board with this, and wants to put it action right away, so there is some action at a hotel bar, which is really funny. Will Sasso guests in the episode as well, really good guy. Fellow Canadian to me, which I love. There are so many funny jokes in this episode, and there’s also a lot of heart, and that’s what I love about this show in general. I feel like there’s always big laughs but there’s also always relatable real moments, not in a cheesy way. I think that’s what people are going to love about this episode. And Molly is also just off the hook funny. She was doing these dance moves – I don’t want to give too much away. She’s just so funny. There are certain people that are just naturally hilarious, like everything they do is funny. When the camera started to role, every take was different and every take was funnier than the last. I can’t say enough positive things about her.
What great about the show, too, is that you’ve had names like Molly Shannon, Will Sasso, Brooke Shields in a past episode – the names that viewers are familiar with, but when those three guys (Paul Rust, John Gemberling, and Dan Ahdoot), the neighbors came in as foils for you three? They’re perfect!
Those boys are the best, they’re so funny. You’re going to see them a lot more this season as we go, because they’re just all so funny, and they’re great counterparts, I feel like, to the three of us. And we have so much fun, too. They’re just great – Paul Rust, John Gemberling, and Dan Ahdoot – they’re so funny, and we have such a good time. This is the thing – I keep saying in interviews. I hope people don’t think I’m being disingenuous, but honest to god, my job is amazing. I have so much fun every day! When my alarm clock goes off in the morning, I’m excited that it’s like, ready to go, start another day, and play, and improvise and have the best time. It’s stupid, but it’s a real joy.
Talking about episodes beyond “The Love Lioness” – what can you tease for other upcoming episodes?
Oh my gosh! The guest stars we have are just consistently good. We’ve got Christmas coming up which is an amazing episode that we just filmed. The good thing about these characters is that anything is new to them because they haven’t gotten out of their own world since high school. Little things can be like a big thing. You saw the engagement party just having Helen-Alice and Marika conversing with girls not like them, and that was like a challenge. I think the best thing about the stuff we have to come, and the episodes we have to come is that even the smallest kind of thing that you or I might feel is not a big deal is an adventure to them in some way. We’ve got a hip-hop club coming up. We’ve got lots of wild and exciting stuff. I’m so excited for people to see the Christmas episode, too. It’s so great, it’s so funny. It was a joy. Kevin Bishop, who plays Richard, everybody’s so funny, but he’s just…we were filming the Christmas episode, I was improvising at one point in character and he just turned to me with his British accent and said “you are a disgusting woman” and they called cut, and I was sobbing I was laughing so hard. He’s so funny; I think it’s going to be such a great episode, and I can’t wait for people to see it!
SUPER FUN NIGHT airs Wednesday nights at 9:30/8:30c after MODERN FAMILY. For more info, head to ABC.com!