ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Merry Christmas From Avenue Q's Christmas Eve, Ann Harada

By Seth Rudetsky
19 Dec 2011

Ana Gasteyer
photo by Robb Johnston
This week on "Seth Speaks" (Sundays at 5 PM, Tuesdays 11 AM-1 PM on SiriusXM 107), my guest was Ana Gasteyer, who is currently on the hit TV show, "Suburgatory." We were both, yet again, raging about auto-tuning. Where is the outrage? It's literally changing what people think is the sound of singing. AH! Of course, the more Ana rages, the more she said that she's come full circle and is now becoming her mother. If you don't know, her mother was a classical music snob. When Ana was a teen violinist, she was forced to spend her summer vacation at the Gettysburg Chamber Music Camp. She remarked that it was more boring than it sounds. According to her, they spent their time sweating in un-air-conditioned practice rooms doing chamber music or watching Civil War re-enactments. Her one highlight was that it was the summer she learned how to lipsynch. Specifically, "Funky Town." When they had parents' day, her classical-music friend's mom visited, and her friend said that Ana was extremely talented. Her friend's mother then asked Ana to play something, to which her friend responded, "Not at the violin, at lipsynching 'Funky Town'!"

Ana spent many years doing Wicked, but before then people were always surprised she could sing. She claims that I'm the only one who wasn't surprised. That was because we both worked at "30 Rock." Not the show, the location. When she was on "Saturday Night Live," I was a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." There were TV monitors in our offices and we'd get the live feed from "SNL" rehearsals. I heard Ana doing a Celine Dion sketch, and when I later saw her at the NBC gym, I told her that she was belting an F and it was a brava! Watch her here. Ana and I are performing New Year's weekend in Provincetown at The Art House. Get tix and info here

Seth and Ana hold up a card for Jackie Hoffman's show
photo by Robb Johnston

I also interviewed the hilarious Jackie Hoffman, who is starring in her own Jewish version of A Christmas Carol, called A Chanukkah Charol. I asked her to do one of my favorite bits about one of her old Hebrew school compatriots calling her when she got The Addams Family. He left her a message in a thick Yiddish accent on her cell phone: "Hi, Jackie, this is Chaim from yeshiva. I heard you're in a show. Good for you. Tell me when the show is and I'll come see it." She was raging. "In a show? I'm in a Broadway musical! I don't tell you when the show is, you call a stranger and pay lots of money to come see the Broadway musical!" She then remarked that she's positive Bebe Neuwirth doesn't get calls like that, but then she went into an imitation of Bebe's response: "Hi, Chaim. It's Bebe. My show runs Tuesdays through Saturday at 8 PM, with 2 PM matinees on Wednesday and Saturdays and Sunday matinees at 3 PM. Now, Chaim, I have to hang up. I have a lot more calls to make." The next performance of Chanukkah Charol is Jan. 2. Get tix here.