Don’t put comedian/actress/singer Ana Gasteyer in a box. She wasn’t put on this earth to entertain audiences in only one specific way. Gasteyer, 47, will show her range as the first of four performers invited to participate in the Broadway @ Woodlawn Theatre Celebrity Series
with XM Radio personality/host and pianist Seth Rudetsky over the next six months. During the November 8 show with Gasteyer, who is a Saturday Night Live
alum and Broadway and TV/film actress, Rudetsky will interview her about her life and career. He will also accompany her on piano while she performs songs from her Broadway past as well as her debut album, I’m Hip
, a compellation of some of her jazz favorites, released in late September. During an interview with the Current
, we talked to Gasteyer about what we can expect from her show at the Woodlawn, her new jazz album and what kind of effect she thinks Saturday Night Live
has on politics today.
Talk to me about the celebrity series at the Woodlawn Theatre. I understand it is going to include musical performances and an interview with you, correct?
Yeah, it’s going to be a really unusual, intimate and fun night of interviews and songs. Seth is incredibly quick-witted. To find a combination of someone that is funny and musical is unusual. They’re two brands that work so well together. [Seth and I] have been friends for a long time. We’ll sing songs from my record (I’m Hip
) and from Broadway. It’s like an insider’s peek into the life we live out here in New York. It’s very weird and unorthodox.
So, since Seth is such a good friend, does he have personal stories about you that you don’t necessarily want him to include in the show?
Sometimes he does manage to do that, and I am mortified when he does. I have to tell him, “Can we not tell that one again about my mom? She’ll get really mad.” (Laughs) But it’s always fun to perform with him because he understands comedy really well.
You started on the stage before TV and film. Is it still as satisfying being center stage as it was when you, say, majored in theater in college?
Oh, absolutely. I’ve done a lot of Broadway shows, so, for me, it’s kind of a balancing act in my career. I did Wicked
as recently as six years ago. [TV/film and the stage] have thrills of their own. They’re very different disciplines in many ways. They’re all necessary for an interesting career.
You recently released your very first album, a jazz album called I’m Hip, which features you singing songs from the late 50s, early 60s. What is it about that era you like so much?
I’m an entertainer, so that era is incredibly fun because it fuses together the two paths of my career. Nowadays I feel people look at you and tend to put what you do in a box, like you’re either a comedian or a Broadway singer or a jazz singer. The thing about this style and era is that it brings it all under one roof. Back then, entertainers were expected to really sell a song and have a great time and tell a story well and still be a really fun on-stage personality without acting. That’s why this era speaks so specifically to me.
Do you feel like you were born in the wrong era?
I definitely was. I think I’m an old-timey performer. It would’ve been a really fun time to perform [during the late 50s], particularly in terms of live music. I would’ve loved to travel around the country with a bunch of boys in a band.
I know the title of your new album is the name of a Blossom Dearie song, but what makes Ana Gasteyer so hip?
(Laughs) My desire to keep up with the kids.
Well, you have two kids, so do they think you’re a cool mom?
I think so. We try to keep it real. I mean, I think they’re pretty embarrassed by me at the same time. I always have to explain to them that I could be a lot worse.