Talking to Kristen Schaal about ‘Bob’s Burgers’ and Being More Autobiographical On Stage
Between prominent roles in Bob’s Burgers, The Daily Show, 30 Rock, and Flight of the Conchords, it seems like Kristen Schaal has had a part in just about every great TV comedy over the past few years. In addition to her busy TV and movie career, Schaal is also an accomplished stand-up, having hosted, with comedy partner Kurt Braunohler, the long-running, wildly-popular NYC comedy showcase Hot Tub, which just ended its run after Schaal and Braunohler both moved to the West Coast. I had the chance to watch Kristen Schaal perform an amazing, funny set at a Funny or Die showcase presented by Marriott and Wired last week and got to talk to her after about a variety of topics, including getting more personal in her act, transporting Hot Tub to LA, and what to expect from future episodes of Bob’s Burgers.
So, you live in LA now?
Yeah, I moved to LA… I moved in August.
How do you like it so far?
I love it.
Do you have a favorite place to perform in town already, or are you still getting a sense of the stand-up scene?
Well, Largo is fun. I did Rob Delaney’s show [there]. I like that space… UCB Tuesdays, Comedy Bang Bang, is pretty good too.
Are you gonna bring Hot Tub out here?
Yes. In fact, tomorrow, Kurt [Braunohler] and I are scouting locations.
Do you have any places in mind?
I think we’re gonna try Echoplex and downtown something. I don’t know.
And Kurt’s here too now?
He just got here Monday. He moved into his new place.
Is it nice to have your comedy partner in town now?
It’s amazing! It’s better than I could have hoped for coming to LA.
So, what topics do you like to discuss most in your act lately?
Well, like, it’s been pretty blue, to be honest. A lot of dirty, blue, clam-jam, scissor sister. Just like dick-sucking, hook-dick, cock-melting. Just like disgusting shit. So, I’m trying to like improve on that and just do something that, if someone brought their 12-year-old, I wouldn’t be like, “Oh, fuck!”
[Laughs] How’s that going? Has that been giving you trouble?
It has been. I think I’m making a move. I never write about me ever in my act because I just don’t think that that’s interesting, but I’m discovering that maybe I do need to be a little more autobiographical in my humor. So, I think I’m gonna make that move.
Have you tried any of that out yet, or is that just on the horizon?
I did one story last night at Delaney’s show, like about New York, and it went okay. If you just pepper it with great jokes and good beats, it’ll actually be more rewarding to the audience because it’s also true.
Do you have comedians you look to who do that in their acts?
Like [John] Mulaney, Louis C.K… Um, everybody actually? That’s the new trend.
Yeah, a lot of people have made that shift from absurd stuff to longer stories.
So, how’s working on Bob’s Burgers been going?
Good, good. I was just recording today. Everybody’s psyched because it got picked up for more.
Thanks! Now, people on staff can start having babies and stuff. [laughs] That’s what happens when shows get picked up for Season 4. Everyone feels comfortable enough to make a baby, I’ve noticed. Look at 30 Rock, just littered with kids because of that reason.
Do you have any Bob’s Burgers episodes coming up that you’re looking forward to people seeing?
Yeah, so many. We record them and then it takes so long for the turnaround, for animation, that it’s almost like I’m watching them for the first time too when they come on, which is fun. But yeah, there’s some great episodes. There’s one episode where Bob… and the kids go on this scavenger hunt around the town to find this love machine that he and Linda used on their first date. It’s just endearing and funny and great. There’s some great gems coming out, for sure.
How closely do you work with the writers? Do you ever get to contribute lines?
We do in the room when we’re recording. That’s why they kind of keep us together all day, so if we decide to riff and go off, then we can. But also, the writing is good enough that hopefully, we won’t have to. [laughs] That’s the hope.
So, that’s different from other shows?
Yeah, I think the trend has gone away from improv now. 30 Rock, for example. There’s absolutely no improv on 30 Rock. There’s no time because it’s packed with jokes. It’s like a 1930s pitter-patter. I’ve noticed that that trend is waning, which is good and bad but mostly good.