She does the world’s best impression of lady-boy Justin Bieber. And also man-woman Angela Merkel. So we’re thanking the comedy gods that Saturday Night Live will have Kate McKinnon around when Hillary Clinton 2016 gets rolling. Here, she agrees (we think?) to play a game with GQ.
GQ: I used to play this game in high school where my friends and I would sit around a table and take turns trying to make each other laugh. Like, this one time, my friend Mike just banged his forehead really hard on the table! Everybody laughed! Have you played that game?
Kate McKinnon: No.
This is kind of putting you on the spot, but it’s not very hard to make me laugh. Do you want to try?
I’m not in the mood for this.
Um. Okay, let’s move on. No, no, no, that’s what I would say! I would say, “Guys, I’m really not in the mood for this, I actually have this thing on my mind that I need to say that’s really been weighing on me. I’m sorry.” And then I would fart.
Wow. That was convincing! I bought it. Like, I really bought it.
Can you actually fart on command?
Well, no. But when I have one, I save it for comic effect.
It’s all good. So who were your favorite comedians growing up?
Anyone in the Mel Brooks movies or Christopher Guest movies.
What’s your favorite Christopher Guest movie?
Well, it’s a real tough one between Guffman and Best in Show, but I think Guffman.
Yeah, definitely. What other, favorite ’80s movies or ’80s comedies?
Basically hated everything made in the ’80s, music television—it was really about the ’90s for me. Encino Man was a big hit. Robin Hood Men in Tights.
Speaking of, Disenchanted—that was that the name of the play you did about the fairytale, right?
Yes. Wow, you are really bringing it back. It’s been a long time. Let’s see, oh, I was playing Snow White, as sort of a real mess at one point, and I pulled an entire rotisserie chicken out of my purse and just ate it.
I like the visual gags.
Every time I did the show, I would have to go to the grocery store and buy an entire rotisserie chicken, and it would get everywhere.
That was probably every night, I mean.
I only did it twice, at UCB, so it was a bi-monthly thing.
I was going to talk to you about UCB—talk about that community and how it shaped you.
It’s just the smartest people I ever met, other than the writing staff at SNL, it’s just a really intelligent group of people who are really devoted to learning and doing stuff all the time, and people are performing every night and every week. That’s where I learned everything—just by doing and doing, and being around funny people, and being taught by funny people. It’s so nice, and a true community spirit.
Did you ever have a breakthrough moment with comedy—a revelation about the craft of being funny?
You just have to do it in the way that feels is funniest to you, or feels like the loosest and most you way to do it, instead of how you think some other funny person might do it, or how it ought to be done. Or how other people think you should do it. It always comes out best if you don’t always necessarily follow the rules, and do what flows naturally from you.
That makes sense. Say you’re doing an impression, maybe more of you is in that than the way someone else might do it.
Yeah, I mean everyone does an impression differently, because what you love about the person you’re doing and what you feel—what you have in common with that person. You’re channeling a version of them blended with yourself.
With Louis CK, do you guys rehearse a scene like that?
And do you rehearse the kiss?
How many times?
I guess we rehearsed it four times.
Can you talk about working with him and doing that scene?
Well, I knew from watching his show that he goes for it. And I like to go for it. So I thought, Oh he’ll go for it. And he sure went for it. We were rehearsing and I thought maybe we would. If you rehearse physical comedy sometimes you must mark it, so I thought we would just mark it. We just really did it. It was so much fun.
Do you still have sketch ideas at SNL that you hold on to but haven’t done?
A few; everyone has them. But I’m not going to tell you what they are because I haven’t given up on them yet.
Is there a time that you feel like you crack people up at SNL, just being funny? Is there an atmosphere of that?
Oh it’s all that.
People are trying to make each other laugh?
Not trying, it just comes out of genuine friendships peoples have. Not like, well I work here so I better make these people laugh—it’s more, everyone is really just friends with everyone.