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'Suburgatory' Star Ana Gasteyer Talks New Show And 'SNL' Past

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ANA GASTEYER SUBURGATORY
AP

Ana Gasteyer spent many years on late-night TV thanks to her stint on "Saturday Night Live," but these days you can find her during primetime on ABC's comedy "Suburgatory" as Sheila Shay, the seemingly perfect neighbor.

Gasteyer, who brought her pitch-perfect impersonations of Martha Stewart and Celine Dion to "SNL" for six seasons, has had an interesting post-sketch comedy career. Aside from her various movie and TV roles, she has appeared in many Broadway shows, including a turn as Elphaba in "Wicked."

The 44-year-old mother of two talked to The Huffington Post about "Suburgatory," her famous friends and, of course, those legendary "Schweddy Balls."

Tell me about Sheila Shay, your character on "Suburgatory."
I’m the perfect mother by all cultural standards; I make the best sandwiches but I’m completely overtly biased between my love -- my passion -- for my son and disdain for my daughter, and our relationship is incredibly complicated and fraught, which is so much fun to play. It’s actually super dimensional. When I read the pilot I thought, "Oh it’s a Martha Stewart knock-off," but it really isn’t. She’s incredibly complicated and controlling, and it’s really fun.

I watch it with my big one (daughter Frances), which is slightly inappropriate. She’s 9-and-a-half. Once they hit 8, they suddenly stay up really late. They’re, like, your age, practically, and it’s kind of fun because you can do things like watch "Housewives" with them.

You must have met those "perfect parents." You live in New York, right?
I live in Brooklyn.

That's ground zero for alpha parenting. Have you seen it?
It’s funny, there are so many women who are former executives and have taken all that stress and anxiety and transferred it onto their kids. Half the time I’m on my game and half the time we’re, like, the crazy family with the three meals from Starbucks.

Have you felt judged?
Yes, definitely. I remember when I first had my daughter I went to some nutritional seminar and I showed up with a giant New York City street pretzel. I’m pretty earthy; I nursed forever because I liked it and my kids liked it, but at the same time I’m very laissez-faire about stuff like bedtimes and food.

What’s the definition of "nursed forever"?
I nursed one for two years and two months and the other for two years and 10 months. Because I come and go so much, I think it was a nice way to stay connected with them and I was too lazy to wean them.

Do you really watch "Real Housewives" with your daughter?
Actually, I don’t. I do watch "Interior Therapy With Jeff Lewis" and she says things like, "I wish Jeff Lewis could come and fix our house." I do love the "Housewives" but it is an incredibly, sort of, hideous picture of women and I don’t really want to get into that with her just yet. I’m still pretending women are fantastic to each other.

Switching gears to "SNL," did you ever think the "Schweddy Balls" skit would become a classic?
No idea. It was a hit character, but it’s definitely had its own career and afterlife. I haven’t been on the show in 10 years. The Scheweddy Balls ice cream came out this year.

You were in "Mean Girls." Does the whole Lindsay Lohan saga make you sad?
You know, I’m not really friends with her. I played her mom, but yes, it makes me very sad. I think she’s enormously talented. I don’t know...child stardom. We always act surprised. I think it’s always been that way, it’s just the media covers it more [now]. It’s about one in every 10 that seems to be a survivor of it.

You must get recognized for "Mean Girls" all the time. It’s on TV nearly every week.
I do. Actually, in the last couple of weeks I’ve been recognized for "Suburgatory." I tweeted a picture of someone watching it on their iPad on the subway.

Are you still friends with the girls from "SNL"? Do you get together for fondue?
That’s so funny you say fondue because that’s exactly what Maya Rudolph and I would go out for. It’s definitely like being in some weird sorority. I’m friends with a lot of actresses, but my "SNL" friends are my closest. The experience of working there is something of a battleground, a great one, but complicated. I think there’s a deep connection for having survived that workplace.

Who’s your most famous friend?
I’m not much of a famous-person friend. I’ve hung out with Brooke Shields and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that kind of pure face recognition, but I keep a low profile. I guess Will Ferrell -- you can’t go out with him anywhere. You can’t meet him in a bar, you have to have him over.

So you're not BFFs with Angelina.
No, I’m not at the Clooney/Pitt level. What people don’t realize is to get to that level, they aren’t really in a place to maintain connections. They’re always traveling, always on the road. John Leguizamo once said to me, "We’re not gypsies; we’re carnies, traveling around in our creepy containers."

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