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New 'SNL' Lady Helps Show Rebound

ALISON STEWART, host:

A couple of good things came out of the writers' guild strike. One, the writers at "Saturday Night Live" must have been sitting on a ton of great material, because since its return two weeks ago the show has been really funny. It also got one of its highest ratings in two years.

The other good thing that happened, at least for one 27-year-old, is that she was able to fly to New York and impress producers enough to be cast as one of the show's new feature players. Here is Casey Wilson on her debut night in front of six million people, playing one of the weepy chicks trying to earn a spot as the girl-toy of the almost washed up '80s hair band lead singer, Bret Michaels. She endured one nasty kiss during this take-off of "Rock of Love II."

(Soundbite from TV show, "Saturday Night Live")

Mr. JASON SUDEIKIS (As Bret Michaels): Christy Jo, could you come down here, please?

Ms. CASEY WILSON (As Christy Jo): Oh.

Mr. SUDEIKIS: Christy Jo, do you promise to stay in this house and continue to rock my world?

Ms. WILSON: Oh, my God. Of course. I'm so here for you.

Mr. SUDEIKIS: But remember what I told you, I need to get to know the inside of your mouth better.

Ms. WILSON: Okay, okay.

(Soundbite of audience groaning)

STEWART: Oh, the audience, Casey, was uncomfortable by that great kiss. Casey Wilson joins us in the studio. What was that like for your first night that you had to go do this sort of hideous tongue kiss with one of the members?

Ms. CASEY WILSON (Performer, "Saturday Night Live"): It was hideous. Although Jason Sudeikis is not hideous. But it was kind of - it was really something 'cause my Dad is in the stands, and so he was like trying to be so proud, and he was so proud. He was like, oh, yeah, but kind of like oh.

STEWART: So how does this work? Do you get the call, or do you have some slickster guy drive a fast car...otherwise known as an agent.

Ms. WILSON: In my case, I was making a call. I was calling my managers and agents and saying like, you know, hey, I'd really like to make a tape for "SNL." Could I send something in? And so sadly I was kind of like, hey, guys, can I send the tape in?

STEWART: Once you got into the audition phase, what does the audition phase consist of?

Ms. WILSON: Well, they fly you out, and it's very short notice. You get there, and it's just very nerve-racking 'cause you're doing it in 8H, in the actual studio, in front of Lorne and all the producers...

STEWART: Wow.

Ms. WILSON: ...and some of the writers would come in, even though it was a strike. And you've got five minutes, and you just have to do - cram in every character you ever thought of. I was kind of being the most abstract...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WILSON: ...like just a piece of something and kind of go for it, I guess.

STEWART: What do you think, in retrospect, was the character, the bit, that maybe won them over?

Ms. WILSON: I think it might have been this bit that I do which is a quadriplegic stripper.

STEWART: Oh, really?

Ms. WILSON: Yes. I cannot move from the neck down, I've been involved in a tragic side-car accident. And but I'm still stripping. I'm still going. And so I have a guy from my rehabilitation center, who, I had a friend of mine, Nate, come in, and he literally drags me around and strip - I still strip, but he has to move me and take my clothes off and help me do the lap dance and everything. It's very sexy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WILSON: Very sexy.

STEWART: I've just gotten an insight into you, as well as the people who cast "Saturday Night Live."

Ms. WILSON: You're like, I see the sadness inside of you and everyone else on that show.

STEWART: Where were you when you got the call that, yeah, we're going to bring you to New York, and we're going to put you on the show?

Ms. WILSON: I was actually in Los Angeles, and I got a call from Lorne's assistant. She said, Lorne's in LA and he'd like to just say hi at the Beverly Hills Hotel, so do you know where that is? And I was like, no.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WILSON: I know where the Chipotle is. And so I went over and actually Lorne told me himself. And I'm crying. It was very exciting. It was surreal. I was hyperventilating when I left him. I called my Dad and were just - we were thrilled. It was so cool.

STEWART: So what was that first night like for you? I mean, we were all, the viewers, were really excited 'cause "Saturday Night Live" is back.

Ms. WILSON: Yeah.

STEWART: I just can't even imagine how excited you must have been.

Ms. WILSON: I was so excited, but I was shaking, I was kind of crying at points, but not sad crying. Just people, like, tears seem to be leaking out of your eyes, are you okay? I'm like...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WILSON: I think so. And then when they said my name, Don Pardo announced my name, there was an NBC page next to me, I just held her hand.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WILSON: She was like, are you les?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WILSON: But it was...

STEWART: She got it though.

Ms. WILSON: She got it.

STEWART: Well, let's check out your version of Rachel Ray. This is something from one of the first two shows.

Ms. WILSON: Okay.

STEWART: Extolling the virtues of cheese, as she is a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice" with Donald Trump.

(Soundbite from TV show, "Saturday Night Live")

Mr. DARRELL HAMMOND (As Donald Trump): This week I instructed you to come up with a dynamic new ad campaign for Barefoot Cruises, America's premiere clothing optional cruise line. They're dynamite. They're really dynamite. Charles Barkley, what did you come up with?

Mr. KENAN THOMPSON (As Charles Barkley): Okay, Barefoot Cruises, it's a whole new fangle for your old dingle-dangle.

(Soundbite of audience laughing)

STEWART: I love Kenan. He's so funny.

Mr. HAMMOND: That's not sexy. We're talking about Barefoot Cruises, classy, erotic, like bearskin rugs and three-cheese fondue. Rachel Ray?

Ms. WILSON (As Rachel Ray): Oh, fondue. Yummo. You can eat so much, they should call it fon-don't.

(Soundbite of audience laughing)

Mr. THOMPSON: Oh, Rachel Ray, you are a national treasure.

STEWART: How much Rachel Ray did you have to watch?

Ms. WILSON: I was like watching it like a crazy person, when I would get off the set and when I would get home and everything. And she is a national treasure, Alison.

STEWART: Now, you mentioned your Dad a couple times. Your Dad's a Republican strategist, right?

Ms. WILSON: Yeah.

STEWART: You grew up outside of D.C. There's not necessarily a recipe for hilariousness, when you think about it.

Ms. WILSON: No, no, no. If you meet my Dad, he's his own recipe for hilariousness. He is quite a guy. My Dad has been pitching me so many ideas and sketches constantly. He's texting them to me. He's e-mailing them. He's leaving them on my voice mail. He cannot get enough. He's like recommending random friends of his. He's like, you know, they're really funny. I've got some guys, they've got a really offbeat sense of humor. Maybe we should - you should get in touch with the guy that writes all the political sketches and give them my - and I'm like Dad, I really can't right now. He's very cute. But I don't know, my parents, they just really encouraged me doing theater, and I think politics has some crossover.

STEWART: I'd say so.

Ms. WILSON: Yeah.

STEWART: We're talking to Casey Wilson. She's the newest feature player on "Saturday Night Live." Now, do you have any characters that we might be seeing coming up some time soon that you've been working or have been in your ouvrir(ph) for a while?

Ms. WILSON: I don't know. I've got a couple that I'm going to break out. But it's a little brazen at this stage of the game for me to be like, guys here's all the characters...

STEWART: Mm-hmm.

Ms. WILSON: ...let's put them out there and feature them. Although I've tried, although I've tried.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WILSON: They're like, take it down a notch, take it down.

STEWART: That's interesting though, that there is a certain amount of new-kid-on-the-blockness.

Ms. WILSON: Yeah.

STEWART: And I think in any workplace...

Ms. WILSON: Yeah, anywhere.

STEWART: Anywhere, you can't really come out of the gates blazing.

Ms. WILSON: Yeah, I know.

STEWART: You got of kind of like, okay, yeah, I'm the newbie.

Ms. WILSON: New kid, take it easy, exactly.

STEWART: Take it easy with that. Has there been anything from the backstage of "SNL" - after watching it for so long, now that you're backstage and you see how it goes - what goes on - that you found surprising or you didn't know really happened to make that show happen every week?

Ms. WILSON: I didn't know, I mean, obviously, but how much of a play it is, essentially. It's like a play we would do at NYU, but it's so fast-paced. And it's like a dance, the way the crew moves the sets like crazy, and they strip your clothes off, and they run you. It's like, go, and I've got my lovable, you know, gay dresser just in there moving the boobs around. I mean, things are happening that should never happen in front of other people.

STEWART: People touching you places...

Ms. WILSON: Oh, I got a Spanx, those, like a body suit, basically. I got me Spanx from my neck down to my body, and they're just moving things around. Things are happening.

STEWART: Have you seen the new addition of Vanity Fair?

Ms. WILSON: Yes.

STEWART: It's all about women in comedy, that's the cover story.

Ms. WILSON: So beautiful.

STEWART: It's a really pretty picture. And it's about the inroads women have made on TV, in comedy. It's got Tina Fey on the cover, Sarah Silverman, Amy Poehler, who is now one of your coworkers. Which isn't that fun to say?

Ms. WILSON: Can you say that again?

STEWART: Amy Poehler is one of your coworkers.

Ms. WILSON: Thank you. Okay.

STEWART: Then in the article they talk about how comedy has opened a lot in the past 20 years. I want to read you a quote from the article. The repertoire of women isn't limited to self-loathing or man-hating anymore. The humor is more eclectic, serene and organic. I wonder, because you're 27 - I mean for someone who's been doing this for while, they might remember when it wasn't so eclectic and organic, as Vanity Fair says. Did you ever feel the need that you had to do a certain kind of chick humor, or by the time you got around to doing it was that just old news?

Ms. WILSON: I guess it might have been old news 'cause I had seen Tina and Amy and Rachel Dratch performing at the UCB, and I got so into them, and so into Cheri Oteri, and Molly Shannon with that physical humor, and she was up to so much craziness.

I've seen some girls, you know, that I think feel like they have to be like really dirty to kind of hang in this like male comedy world, and that's always a little bit turned me off. That there needs to be - like I have to develop a persona on top of being female that makes me kind of like a viable player in those like boys gang. You know, there was that Vanity Fair article, I guess it was - I don't know when it was - Christopher Hitchens wrote.

STEWART: Yeah.

Ms. WILSON: It was - absolutely enraged me. So now I'm like...

STEWART: "Why Women Aren't Funny," that's what...

Ms. WILSON: Yeah. Which I can't even speak to that article, it was so disturbing. And now I guess Vanity Fair has turned around, turned their story around. But, you know, I think they look so beautiful. There is something that's like, oh, and they're funny and attractive. But, and they all are. But there's plenty of just good comedy out there. Like, it's never like, oh guys and look how hot they are.

STEWART: Right.

Ms. WILSON: I don't know. In the comedy world it's like you've got guys who are good looking, but then there's like, they're comedy-hot, is what I call them.

STEWART: Comedy-hot?

Ms. WILSON: Comedy-hot.

STEWART: Oh.

Ms. WILSON: Where you're like, oh, they're so cute...in this building.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WILSON: But, you know, it's like women, it's like everyone's wanting the whole package from women. To deliver the looks, the comedy, there's a lot that needs to be delivered.

STEWART: Casey Wilson of "Saturday Night Live."

Ms. WILSON: Ah, thank you.

STEWART: You almost clapped for yourself, didn't you?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WILSON: Can I?

(Soundbite of clapping)

Ms. WILSON: Thank you.

(Soundbite of music) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.