“Music was a huge component of my life, and I like being able to keep that alive in a regular way,” Ana Gasteyer says over the phone days before she opened I’m Hip at Café Carlyle. “If you are a traveling vagabond of an actor, and you don’t go to a regular church choir, you don’t have an outlet.”
Luckily for audiences, Gasteyer—best known for her years on Saturday Night Live, but also an accomplished musical theatre performer who has appeared on Broadway in Wicked and The Threepenny Opera—found an outlet at the chic nightspot to share her eclectic act of Broadway showstoppers, fresh takes on new favorites, and plenty of fantastic novelty songs.
“I’m going to get dressed up—you gotta, right?” she says of what to expect, before adding, in reference to the hotel’s famous longtime resident, “I’m not going to be doing an impression of [Elaine] Stritch. My act is a little loud, but we are trotting out a couple fun, old novelty tunes. I have a weakness for novelty songs. But luckily this is the one room I don’t feel apologetic about anything from the 1930s.”
Gasteyer’s weakness for novelty songs plays to one of her greatest strengths as a singing performer—telling a story, hilariously. Along with the expected funny patter, she turns songs like “Sister Kate” into tour-de-force showstoppers.
“They’re great songs because they’re songs for entertainers,” she says. “Half the people [at my shows] would like to hear some music, and half the people would like to hear some jokes. So I think they’re fun because they’re performance songs.”
Gasteyer, who can currently be seen on the new TBS series People of Earth, doesn’t shy away from ballads either. At least, not fully.
“Ballads are tricky because it’s the Saturday Night Live factor,” she says. “I love ballads, but it’s going to be a really sad night if people come expecting me to be funny. So I’m seeking ballads that walk the line between sad and interesting and funny.” One such ballad? “Theme to Valley of the Dolls,” written by André and Dory Previn and made famous by Dionne Warwick. “It fits my set perfectly because there is an irony to doing the song, obviously. But it’s such a beautiful song, too.”
Ultimately, Gasteyer’s goal with I’m Hip is for “the people who come to my show to feel like they’ve been at a party. There’s nothing earth shattering. It’s a light and festive vibe that we go for. That’s what I love in life, and that’s what I aspire to.”
As for future musical enterprises, there is one big thing that Gasteyer is determined to do: a holiday album. “I really would like to record a ridiculous Christmas album next year,” she says. “Unfortunately, it’s only one month a year you can do it. But that would be the music I’d be focused on next.”
Before you have to wait another year, catch I’m Hip before it closes November 5.