Casey Wilson on ONE MISSISSIPPI, politics, and improv
ONE MISSISSIPPI, the autobiographical “traumedy” from comedian Tig Notaro that deals with the aftermath of her mother’s sudden death, while she struggles to recover from a double mastectomy and post cancer treatment illnesses, finally premieres today on Amazon after the release of the pilot last fall. The incredibly moving show, which finds light in the darkest of moments, flavored top to bottom with Tig’s very specific, dry, and sarcastic humor, is one of my favorite shows this fall.
Casey Wilson, one of our favorites here, plays Tig’s girlfriend Brooke, who shows up to help support Tig and her family in the aftermath of mom’s passing. We spent some time chatting with Casey about the show, why this one will resonate with audiences, what she took away from campaigning with Hillary Clinton, and what’s next.
Did you talk to Tig’s wife or anything before getting involved?
I know her wife through Upright Citizens Brigade very well, and kind of separately from Tig, and just through comedy in general. I’m playing a compilation of Tig’s ex girlfriends before her lovely wife.
I really like your appearance where Tig’s surprised that you’re coming to town and then you’re in town – it sums up their relationship, doesn’t it?
I think pretty much. She’s surprised and doesn’t want to see me [laughs].
As Tig’s girlfriend, you have a lot of influence on her. What aspects of Tig do you think you bring out that other characters can’t.
I think my character loves how funny Tig is and maybe that she’s somewhat in the spotlight a little. I’m slightly selfish and not as empathetic, so I’m not sure if I bring out many great qualities in her, ultimately.
I think she thinks she’s empathetic.
Yes, oh deeply deeply. She thinks she’s a wonderful person to nurture someone who is ill and grieving.
Your character is a great balance to her and fun.
Yes, you’re right. I think of my character a vivacious and fun, kind of charming, but ultimately and probably a little selfish.
The impact you have on Bill – you’re really trying to get this guy out of his shell.
I love John (Rothman) who plays Bill. I think Brooke thinks that she can really shake this family up and teach them a thing or two. Help them all. She’s like Mother Theresa for their family.
You filmed in Texas and Mississippi?
And LA. We did the pilot right outside of New Orleans in MS where Tig grew up and the rest of the episodes in LA and Texas. But I just filmed in LA. I’m used to the south. I’d just had my son; he was three months old. We went out there for three weeks. I wasn’t in as many scenes so it was great. It was so fun; got to take him all around and be with Tig. It was awesome.
Other than your own character’s relationship with Tig, what other relationship do you find the most drawn to?
I love the relationship between Tig and her brother, played by Noah Harpster, who is an actor and also a writer on TRANSPARENT and also this. I have a brother, and I think that they have a really beautiful, sweet, loving fun relationship so I think that one’s great. The relationship between Tig and her stepdad, it’s such and awkward relationship especially now that the glue that holds their family together, their mom, has passed away. It’s just hilarious and awkward and heartbreaking.
I love that it’s called a Traumedy.
I hadn’t heard that before this and I’m going to pretend I coined it!
I love the fact that it’s almost all women, behind the scenes.
Yes, very much so! Nicole Holofcener directed the pilot and subsequent episodes and she’s one of my favorite directors of all time in movies – she did FRIENDS WITH MONEY and LOVELY & AMAZING and she was, lovely and amazing ha. Kate RObin, who is the show runner, obviously Tig and her wife Stephanie were so involved in the writing, and TIg is the boss obviously, but it was amazing.
You have a writing partner, too. How important do you think it is for women to write their own material?
I think incredibly important, and I think this is a great time in TV in general, for kind of exploring personal stories from creators. I think as an actor, if you don’t write your own material, you just go one way. I think it’s great that I can write and generate material in this time especially.
What is it about this show in particular that speaks to everybody?
I think Tig’s voice is so different and she has her own tone. Her cadence alone is so weird, and she’s such a delightful person, and there’s no one like her. She’s so funny. She’s hysterical. She is so unique that I think the show is both very warm, but it’s a tragic, what did we call it? A Traumedy. There’s a ton of comedy. In life, in the darkest times, is when I’ve laughed the hardest sometimes because things strike you almost as more funny, and I feel like the show kind of hits those notes very much so.
I know you were very active in Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
This year, not as much, because they have not needed me as much. But last time, I went on the road with her for three weeks and campaigned and traveled with her. She doesn’t need me. She’s got bigger stars this time. At the time, I was like introducing her in Indiana and Iowa all over. I’m very, very excited.
Is there something that you learned from being on the road with her?
I will say, campaigning with her, I was struck by how much energy she has. I found her to be so warm; people have said that she’s not, but traveling with her, she was so warm with everyone. She is just in such command of her life. I was just inspired, honestly, by her work ethic and her energy levels. I’d be slumped against the plane and asleep, and she’d still be working!
I read that you came from a very political family.
My dad is still a political consultant, though for Republicans. I think for his job he can’t say, but he has not come out in support of Trump. My mom was a huge Democrat, and my dad was a Republican. My mom was the President of the National Women’s Political Caucus which was this organization designed to get women elected on both sides of the aisle. For 8 years she did that.
This is the looniest Presidential election.
I’ll say. It’s really hilariously horrible. If it weren’t so scary, it would be funny.
You have a lot of stuff on the Housewives, what is that?
[laughs] I have, I have! That’s just a fun side project. I have a podcast that started out, it’s called “Bitch Sesh,” it started out about the Housewives. It’s kind of drifted into talking about things of least importance in our country. It’s as far away from politics as you can get. It’s just a comedy show that I do with a girlfriend of mine and we just have fun doing comedy and chatting.
You know, I don’t think that we’re going to get another season. Danielle and Dannah are so busy doing other things. I wish and I’m willing and able [laughs].
And you’re doing the EW PopFest for HAPPY ENDINGS!
Yes I’m really excited!
They’re writing a new script for that, right?
Yes, it’s really exciting. The writers are all getting together. We’re going to do it; the proceeds are going to go to charity for our script supervisor who passed away from breast cancer. It will be a very bittersweet night, but we’re excited to do it in our script supervisor Tracy’s honor! So we’re excited.
I know that you did so much work for Upright Citizens Brigade. Did you find yourself being hit on a lot being an attractive woman?
[laughs out loud] Great question! I appreciate it. I did not. I had no issues. I still perform with them out in LA a lot and love the theater. It’s a great space for comedians. I performed in NY for about 5 or 6 years, and then LA for the past 8, oh gosh, that’s a lot.
Which do you prefer, NY or LA?
I don’t know, both! Both have such different feels. I just like performing anywhere that will have me.
Do you think it’s important to have that improv background these days?
I think it’s a background that’s great to have. My brother’s a mechanical engineer and he started taking improv classes in San Francisco and he says it’s helping him in his life. He loves it. It’s fun for anyone, but particularly in my career, I think it’s good. It starts a lot of writing careers and it’s a good thing to have especially if you perform in comedy regularly, but good for anyone!
How much improv is there in ONE MISSISSIPPI?
Great question – actually none of it. Not even a word. Which is interesting because some shows, HAPPY ENDINGS, we improv-ed a good bit. Every show has its own way, and this show is very carefully and thoughtfully written and there was no improv.
I loved HAPPY ENDINGS – they keep hinting that they’ll bring it back. Any word on that?
Not that I know of. I’d love to do it, if they ask! We should have gone one more, but we’re glad people like it.
Going between shows where there is improv and others where there’s not, does that make it difficult to switch off?
I think there’s always a time and a place for improv, so that can be the kind of thing, where some writers would be offended. It’s just knowing when the vibe is right. This sounds so pretentious, but you can improv without even speaking. It’s an awareness of saying yes to whomever your scene partner is.
What did you learn about yourself doing this show?
I learned that I really loved doing kind of more grounded, darker material, even though my scenes were not as much, I just enjoyed the process of being involved. Normally, I’m in things that are so outright comedic, that I had a nice time in a bit of different waters.
What else do you have going on?
Danielle and I have been doing live shows in LA and we’re going to do a tour of the podcast to different cities.
I love the show, it is how you find humor in sorrow and grief. Do you find that it’s helped you?
I think it’s wonderful to watch other people go through things, if they’re close to what you’re going through. You feel less alone. and especially to laugh, but also I think it touches something that’s true. Grief is such a huge part of people’s lives, I hope it’s relieving to people to watch, and that they laugh as well!
Please do yourselves a favor and watch the entire season of ONE MISSISSIPPI, available now. It’s beautiful and lovely, and I was surprised just how often I laughed out loud.