Talking Hypersexual Monsters With SNL's Aidy Bryant
Saturday Night Live‘s Aidy Bryant is kind of like sunshine in a bottle. That’s perhaps too cheesy of a description, but it’s pretty much spot-on: she’s bubbly, engaging, and above all, totally hilarious. In four short years at SNL, Bryant has gifted the world with classic sketches, including the Emmy-winning “(Do It On My) Twin Bed,” which perfectly encapsulated the most awkward of holiday scenarios: having sex in your childhood home.
Bryant’s roles outside of SNL have also been a joy to watch (we especially enjoyed her turn as an overly invasive and possibly mentally unstable dining companion on Broad City). But on February 18th, she took her biggest step yet: Vimeo released a short film that Bryant wrote, produced, and starred in, called Darby Forever. Darby was produced through Vimeo’s Share the Screen program, which specifically invests in female filmmakers. Time to close that dumb Hollywood gender gap.
The film focuses on Bryant as Darby, a fabric store employee who escapes from the daily grind with majorly imaginative fantasies. It also features Natasha Lyonne and Parks and Rec MVP Retta, and it’s absurdly charming, especially when you factor in adorable special effects and custom embroidery. The whole vibe is kind of like a page from Rookie come to life: adorable while remaining emotionally resonant.
I spoke to Bryant whilst huddled in a stairwell during Fashion Week, and she really brightened my grey February day. Read on for her thoughts on sexism in the industry, crafting, and not being a “hypersexual monster.”
I always want to know how Saturday Night Live people have time to do anything outside of SNL.
It is kind of hard, because when we’re at SNL it’s all consuming. But we have the summers off, so that’s when I did [the film]. I wrote it two summers ago and then I shot it last summer, so I’m so happy to finally have it out there because it feels like this thing I’ve been slowly chipping away at for a while, so I’m so pumped to have it out there in the world.
The film is so charming. Could you tell me a little bit about the concept behind it?
I used to go to this fabric store in Chicago, and this woman would always ask questions, like, “What are you going to use this for?” She would be—not nosy, but I could tell she was bored out of her mind. I would tell her that it was for Second City and that I was going to do a show, and she would kind of go, “Oh my goodness” and get a little excited. I kind of loved that spirit, that just hearing about something could excite you so much. So that’s kind of what the story is! It’s this girl who kind of has this creative spirit, and she lets it take her away on little daydreams. It was fun for me, because I got to play multiple characters in one little movie.
That certainly plays to your SNL strengths. You had so many great, funny people on set. What was filming like? It seemed like such a fun experience.
It was! It was kind of like summer camp. And it was really hot! So here were all these fun people just sweating their asses off. And that made it sort of gritty, sort of “we can do it together.” It was a blast.
One of my favorite elements of the film were the special effects. Do you do embroidery yourself?
I’m not a great embroiderer, but I do love to do it. I love crafts, and I love handmade things, and that’s something that’s always been big with my mom and my grandma. It’s an important part of my creative life, and one that I don’t get to use a ton at SNL. They have the best of the best costumers and that kind of thing. So it was really fun to dip my toe into the pool of working with the art directors, and working with visual artists to use their work. It was really fun!
I went to art school, so I had friends who were graphic designers and textile artists, and all these people that I kind of got to call in and use their work. So all the embroidery that’s done, including on the vintage photos, was done by my friend who I met in college, and most of the graphics were done by my friend who I’ve known since seventh grade. It’s kind of a scrapbook of creative people in my life who I wanted to collaborate with.
What was it like going from art school to comedy?
Well, my art school had an acting school in it. [Laughs]
One cool thing about where I went to college was that you take all these other kinds of classes. So I took radio classes, and textile classes, and all sorts of visual art. And that’s a part of my life I think I don’t get to use as much now. So it was really fun to open up that part of myself and get to use it in comedy.
That sounds like the dream.
It is the dream! Livin’ the dream. [Laughs]
Could you tell me about how you got involved with Share the Screen? It’s such an awesome, important program.
I’m totally honored to be connected with that in any way. Of course it’s like a brilliant idea. I love that Vimeo is supporting female filmmakers. It leads to different voices in our industry that need to be heard, so it’s just so exciting to me. I’m happy to be any little part of it.
Are you taking part in the challenge where you watch one movie per week directed by a woman?
I’ve never heard of that challenge! That’s so cool.
Yeah it’s a petition you can sign up for online! It just reminded me of the Share the Screen program.
That’s amazing! I love that idea.
How do you think the industry’s doing these days? The conversation around increasing output from female directors just keeps growing. Do you think we’re improving at all?
Yes, I think that things like this help improve that, and I think certainly that there are great female voices. It’s about getting the opportunity to have the support to make their work. I know the voices are out there, so it’s just all about industry support. I think people are more aware of it now than they were even five years ago, so that part is exciting. At least to me. [Laughs]
“I feel really lucky to be in a cast where [women] a major force… It feels like we have our little tribe.”
SNL also seems like a much more female-friendly place to work these days than in years past. Although I suppose it’s been on since times when sexism in the workplace was a lot more prevalent…
I’ve never experienced any sexism at SNL. If anything, they’ve only been supportive of our team of women. I definitely feel empowered by the number of female cast members we have. I think of the first cast, and it was two women. So I feel really lucky to be in a cast where we’re a major force. That’s exciting to me, and it feels like we have our little tribe. We love to work together and we’re really close, and that makes a huge difference. So yeah, maybe I would feel differently if I didn’t have them, but I’ve only ever felt really supported at SNL.
I wanted to ask about my favorite sketch ever, “Dyke & Fats,” which you did with Kate McKinnon. Could you tell me a bit about how that came together?
Well, it’s funny that you mention that. Because I actually think it’s the perfect example of how SNL has supported me as a woman, and an other, and all those things. That was a really special moment for both Kate and I, I think. Not only was it this kernel that came out of our deep loving friendship for one another, but it was just this total dream day where we got to pretend to be cops and roll around on top of each other and kinda lean into exactly who we are and be unapologetic about it. So then to have that kind of response for it totally blew us away. And that we did it almost two years ago and people still ask us about it all the time—it’s really flattering.
Something else I really love is when you play the horny 13-year-old child—
Yup, that classic horny 13-year-old child! [Laughs]
[Laughs] Well I feel like you have a lot of characters that come across as prim, and then they’re secretly these super sexual monsters.
[Laughs] Well that’s who I am! Well I don’t know, I’m not like a hypersexual maniac. I just love characters who are unapologetically who they are, and that’s definitely who that little person is. I think I really like characters who are doing the wrong thing very confidently. I think that’s why a lot of those people really speak to me.
What are you going to do to celebrate the release of the film?
We’re going to have a little party for everybody that worked on it, with friends, and my family’s coming in for it. And I have the week off from SNL, so I’m just gonna live it up and sleep for once in my life. Take a shower.
What do you like to do when you have time off?
Well I do a different kind of work, like promoting this movie. But I like to walk my dog, just get out there and chill. Have a chill-ass life!
To finish up, is there anything major you want people to take away from the film?
Maybe just that you can find ways to be creative in any way in your life, no matter what your circumstances are.
Check out Darby Forever, available on Vimeo.
All stills courtesy of Vimeo.
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