Andrea Rosen is a gal about town. Having done stand-up for years, she has since emerged as a key player in the scene, constantly showing up in places like the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, Rififi, Galapagos, as well as on Superdeluxe.com. She has appeared on Stella and in The Ten, and can also be seen with the comedy collective Variety SHAC alongside Shonali Bhowmik, Chelsea Peretti, and Heather Lawless. Andrea, (who - by the way - holds a women's world fishing record for catching a 42 pound Permit fish, thank you very much!) recently sat down with The Apiary's Eliot Glazer.
How or where do you come up with material?
I used to do a lot of characters, all exaggerated versions of people who annoyed me. Now I do stories based on very true events with jokes built into them. If I feel mortified or dumb in a situation, or if someone says something to me that I don't like, or if something really weird happens, I might use it on stage. My stuff is usually about my family and guys.
Please tell the story from your "Sistine Chapel" bit.
I usually fly fish with my dad and brothers for trout or bone fish. So my dad, my step mom, and I were fishing in Montana with a guide named Brad, a very manly and capable outdoorsman (real smooth with everything: the boat, tying flies, untangling knots, and the best flirt ever). (Didn't hurt that he was from North Carolina, either--that southern drawl that really amps up the hotness.) After a day of sexually charged fishing (between Brad and myself), we got cleaned up and all went out to dinner. Earlier in the trip, my dad (who doesn't buy clothes - he finds them), asked me how much I spend on my jeans. I told him I had just bought a pair of "575" jeans for $120. He was in shock. I wore the "575" jeans that night and at dinner, my dad said to Brad, "Guess how much Andrea spent on her jeans!" Brad put his fork down, asked me to stand up and turn around (he needed the to see the full 360 degrees to make his assessment). He took a moment to consider it, and then responded: "how do you put a price on the Sistine Chapel?" ...Like my ass was made by Michelangelo!
You've described your dad as a "hippie who fled to New Mexico."
My dad used to be a Creative Director at an ad agency in Connecticut. Then he retired and moved to New Mexico. And now he runs a bone fishing lodge in the Bahamas for half the year. At this point in his life he is super laid back. A while ago, I was doing a slide show bit and I wanted to illustrate how laid back he was. So when I was visiting him in New Mexico, I asked him if I could take a picture of him and his banjo, in his underwear. He was like "Of course!" So he got his banjo and dropped trou, without ever even asking what it was for.
You grew up in Roosevelt Island which makes you a native New Yorker. How have you seen the comedy landscape change over the years?
I would say that the UCB and PIT have made a huge difference in the comedy world here in NY. Because before that, it was hard to know how and where to break in. In the past, you sort of had to do one-person shows at theaters, snail mail out post cards inviting people. Getting into comedy is less of a mystery at this point.
What's the history of Variety Shac?
Heather, Chelsea, and I all knew each other from stand up, but we were rarely on the same bill. It's usually one woman booked per show. We all liked each other a lot, personally and material-wise. And we all knew Shonali (who performs in a band called Tigers and Monkeys). So we were at a party one night and we were talking about wanting to have a "home base," a show that was our own show. That's when we decided to do a monthly show and then committed to making a short film once a month to show at our show and then post it online. It's been a totally gratifying experience. I love those girls!
How do you and Variety SHAC write together? Does it start organically with someone's idea and you all collaborate? How much, if any, of it is improvised?
The shorts are mostly improvised based on a scenario that we've worked out before hand. And then we spend a lot of time editing. A lot.
What's the story behind the prank call sketch? You guys just decided to act like teenage boys and start pranking your friends?
At the last minute, Heather couldn't make it that day because she had diarrhea. We needed something that would still include her. So we used her illness as inspiration, and decided to be Italian doctors calling people to check up on their assholes. We called our friends who we thought would be game.
What was it like to work on Stella?
It was super special. At the time, I was roommates with Michael Showalter (platonically), and was already friends with Michael Black and David Wain and with a lot of the cast. So it was like going to work with your friends. And I thought it was a really funny show. So I was psyched and proud to be a part of it. Plus, the vibe on that show was very friendly, no big ego stuff. I was really sad when it ended.
Where did you come up with the concept for Standrea?
I was dating a guy named Dan. And we'd introduce ourselves to people as "Dandrea," as a joke. I pitched it while we were still going out. Then we broke up. And so I changed it to Standrea. I asked my friend Matt Lawler to play Stan. He's very good in it.
What's next for Andrea Rosen?
The Variety Shac is working on a pilot for Adult Swim. And we've moved our monthly show to UCB. And we have a new SHAC DVD for sale (it has an extra short on it that we did with The Whitest Kids U Know and DVD commentary by Fred Armisen, Jon Glaser and AD Miles).
Finally, did Michael Showalter really used to call you Andrea Cinnamon Rosen Cookie?
Showalter's names for me include: Oatmeal Rosen Cookie, Cinnamon Rosen Bread, Rose Bowl Parade, Vagandrea, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Rosie Posie Puddin and Shosie, The Sisters Rosensweig, Ro Ro Ro Your Boat, Really Rosie, Rosen Up the Bow (as in rosin up a violin bow), and Angelini Funklefini. We lived together for 5 years, so there are lots!