In what proved to be one of the best perks of writing this column so far, I got to see an advanced screening of “Obvious Child,” starring this week’s guest, the brilliant actress and stand-up comedienne Jenny Slate. And I loved it. (But you don’t have to take my word for it.) It’s very much a romantic comedy (I love me a good rom-com!), but a bit of an unusual one—it’s written and directed by women and stars women. Oh, and it’s about a nice Jewish girl who has an abortion. After seeing the movie, I got to speak with its star. We talked about what movies inspired her in making the film and how she knows if a joke is worth telling. The movie opens on June 13.
What did you say when writer/director Gillian Robespierre came to you and said, “Hey, I wrote this new movie, and it’s about an abortion”?
Well, she didn’t come and say that to me. In fact, we don’t call it an abortion movie; we call it a romantic comedy. It’s a story about living in Brooklyn and being in your late 20s, and all of the complications that come with that.
We were actually trying to look toward a new space. We wanted to tell a new story. A film about a safe procedure hadn’t really been told before. And for me, making this movie was vintage New York City. I was really inspired by “Crossing Delancey.” That’s one of my favorite movies. It’s family-oriented and it’s a simple story.
There was a Birthright joke in the movie that went over huge with the crowd I saw it with. [It was screened through the Boston Jewish Film Festival.] But I’m guessing that crowd was unusual. How do you decide if a joke is worth using?
Well, you know, the thing with jokes is that we call them 5 percenters. That means that with any joke you tell, probably only 5 percent of the crowd is going to get the joke. And I’m delighted when people get the Birthright joke. When people get the joke, they really, really love it. And it’s always about finding a balance with humor, no matter what the religion or culture or background.
You’re in a new show coming out on FX this summer, and your character is married to Paul Reiser. Tell me about that.
Yes, the show is called “Married” and will debut on July 17. It’s about the ups and downs that are common in all relationships and trying to make it all work. My character is trying to be a reformed party girl, and I’m married to a man who is my father’s age. The show is sympathetic and perverse. It’s dark and funny.
Four Questions is a weekly interview column featuring interesting people connected with the Greater Boston Jewish community. Find past columns here. Have an idea of someone we should interview? Email Molly!
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