An interview with Kay Cannon, Betabrand Model and Writer for “30 Rock,” “New Girl,” “Pitch Perfect,” and “Pitch Perfect 2.”
Tell us about yourself? Who are you? What about your career are you most proud of so far?
I am a left-handed, ex-jock from a very small town and a huge family. I picked what college I went to based on what school would let me walk-on their volleyball team. While getting an MA in Education, I went to see my first Second City revue. After that show, I decided that I would pursue a career in improvisation. That’s right. I picked a profession right behind a poet in terms of job prospects. But somehow, I managed to make a living. After a couple of years of very hard work, I got hired at the Second City. Post SC, I moved to L.A. and started writing for myself when I couldn’t book any acting gigs. Those scripts that I wrote out of reluctance and desperation helped me get my first writing job at a show called “30 Rock.” “30 Rock” changed my life. My proudest achievement in my career so far is not getting fired from that show. I’m also very proud of creating the film franchise, “Pitch Perfect.” It took a long time to get that movie made, and I’m extremely proud of how well it’s done. It was my baby before I had my real baby. Now I don’t play favorites, but I like my movie baby a little bit more than my real one.
When did you first know you were funny? Can you recall the moment and how it made you feel? Why did you choose to pursue comedy as your career?
I made an audience laugh during a Christmas recital. Afterwards, someone came up to my mother and me and called me a “ham.” Not knowing what that meant, I was immediately insulted. I thought I was being called a pig. I don’t know if I was too bright when I was a little kid. Now that I know what the term means, I think it suits me. More importantly, it will always and forever feel good when you make someone laugh.
How did you decided to pursue comedy as my career?
I couldn’t think of something I would rather do than this. As mentioned above, I have an MA in Education. But to hell with those kids! Actually, there is nothing harder than being a teacher. I remember getting stress headaches when I thought I wasn’t reaching every kid in the class. Working in comedy – although difficult – is ridiculously fun. SO much easier than making the world a better place. What does it mean to be a funny woman in your personal life? Show business? I can’t wait until this question is no longer asked. I think funny is funny regardless of gender. I approach my career with that same attitude. I don’t focus on trying to be a funny lady. I just try to be a funny person. And in doing so, I’m not treated any different because I’m a woman.
What is your greatest daily challenge? Reward?
Getting my one-year-old out of the tub. That girl gettin’ big. I’m always a fan of a day where I make a work deadline and also able to put my kid to bed.
What was your experience wearing Betabrand? How does your profession echo our Brand’s mantras of crowdsourcing ideas and beta testing their potential?
The clothes are incredibly comfortable. The idea of crowdsourcing ideas and beta testing parallels trying out jokes. You see which ones work, which ones don’t, what audiences like, etc… As an improviser, it’s very similar to when we break the fourth wall and address the audience by asking for a suggestion that we then use to create a scene.
What advice would you give to anyone seeking to find their own path? Career or otherwise?
I’m not going to say something cliché like, “love what you do.” But you should at least like what you do. And stop comparing yourself to others. Compare yourself only to where you want to be and what you need to do to get there. It took me a long time to realize that I am never going to have Gwen Stefani’s career. Right?
What are you passionate about outside of comedy? What do you do on your free time?
TV. I fucking love TV. I watch everything. I also like working out. And drinking. In fact, I have to work out to burn the calories from all the drinking.
Tell us how you really feel about Rubber Chickens?
I don’t know why rubber chickens are equated with comedy. There are a gazillion other things that look so much funnier. Like a rubber chicken finger.
Follow Kay on Twitter @KayKayCannon!
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