Jenny Slate is the kind of actress/comedian you’ve seen in a million things (and heard, as in viral video “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”), but whose name you can’t quite recall. You likely won’t have any trouble after catching her in her first leading big-screen role in Obvious Child, an “abortion comedy” about an unlikely romance between Donna, a struggling Brooklyn stand-up comic and the one-night-stand who knocks her up. The movie hits screens on June 6, but first, we chatted with the Milton-raised Slate about unsexy details, drunken poop-capades and what makes her laugh.
That happens. I feel like, also, it’s maybe because I tend to look a lot like some other Jewish person that somebody knows. It’s much more often that somebody comes up to me and is like, “Are you, like, Ariel, or whatever?” and I’m like, “No, I’m just some other Jewish girl.” [laughs] But the people that tend to approach me when I’m out and about, they often know my character’s name, but maybe not mine. They’ll be like, “Hey, Mona Lisa.” But then, the people who know Marcel the Shell, they know my name and they tend to be kind of more personal fans. It’s really sweet.
I think we don’t see the movie as an abortion comedy. It’s more that we think that life is funny. I think that abortion is serious and complex, and I sort of don’t like that [this movie] is called that sometimes, because I feel like it presumes that we are rough with the subject, or that we don’t care about it or that we are not thoughtful about it. But, in fact, when you watch the movie, it’s very thoughtful and funny and wild and playful.
And the situations feel very real…
Yeah, I would like to watch more movies like this. In that it’s still romantic, and the sort of classic things about romance are still there, and satisfy you, but that it’s progressive in terms of its depiction of how things work, socially, with people of younger generations.
Totally. One of my favorite parts is when Donna’s mom asked her to go through the mail, and she’s going through it, and he walks in. In any other romcom she’d be like, “Oh my God!,” and he’d do something cute or awkward but, instead, he walks in and Donna’s like, “You’re f—ing kidding me” and he’s like, “F—!”
There are so many things! And I admit them all the time. The thing is, I don’t think a lot of things are gross…. Did my husband catch me smelling my dental floss the other day? Yeah. [laughs] Do I think that’s gross? No. Do I get that other people do? Yeah. [pauses] Well, one time I was really, really drunk, and I was barfing, and I knew I was going to s–t my pants. But I couldn’t figure out to sit on the toilet and throw up into a trashcan. So I just put the trash can under my butt and pooped into the trash can and threw up into the toilet, and I was like, “Oh no—wrong way!” .…And somehow I peed on the floor.
Speaking of drunken antics, there’s a scene where Donna and Max [Donna’s love interest] are drunk and peeing in an alley. Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever peed?
I peed into a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee cup in a car because my friends wouldn’t pull over. Then I just put the lid back on and threw it out later.
I guess Gilda Radner? But also, like, George Washington.
Totally. And he had wooden teeth.
I bet he had the worst breath ever.
Game of Thrones
Yeah, and they all have lice and they’re all wearing, like, leather shirts, and just have the worst B.O. Real bad.
What strikes me as funny are really simple things—like I saw one of my dogs punch the other dog in the face with his paw. It’s always funny to me when somebody trips and I hate it, because I don’t like to laugh at people, but it just makes me laugh so hard.
I do, I love it. I’m like a baby. I just laugh when the doorbell rings.
I miss places like the Clam Box in Wollaston, where you can get a Bud Light and chicken fingers or fried clams. I miss that Massachusetts ocean-side feel that you don’t get on the Pacific. I miss that a lot. There’s nothing like it.