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Ana Gasteyer brings the party on I'm Hip'

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Doing the unexpected has been a hallmark of actress and comedienne Ana Gasteyer's career from the start.

On six wildly successful seasons on 'Saturday Night Live,' Gasteyer displayed remarkable versatility in roles ranging from Martha Stewart and Celine Dion to the host of an NPR food show.

Parts on 'Seinfeld,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' 'Frasier' and other comedies confirmed Gasteyer's ability to effortlessly fit into an existing ensemble and find the laugh.

Sheisfunny, but Gasteyer is also a formidable vocalist, as evidenced on SNL, Broadway performances in 'Wicked' and 'Rocky Horror Picture Show,' and currently on a beautifully produced album of swaggering jazz vocals called 'I'm Hip.'

Gasteyer has been touring behind the new disc in a show that is part 'Rat Pack'-era Sinatra (performed from a lady's perspective, of course) and part variety show, mixing songs, laughs and stories with audience interaction. The performance like the album - conjures a sauntering swanky era when a lady commanded a nightclub.

Her show has been selected to lead off a new musical television series called 'The Kate' airing for six weeks on public television and streaming atwww.TheKate.TV. The program features performers who (according to the website) 'by way of delicate beauty or razor-sharp wit, captivate audiences with a revelatory charisma and irresistible charm akin to the feisty spirit of our muse, Ms. Hepburn.' Future episodes of 'The Kate' will be devoted to performances by Ann Wilson of Heart, Rita Wilson and Rickie Lee Jones.

In a phone interview conducted last Friday, Gasteyer said that she is now doing something where she feels 'at home' and in a place where the laugh is never far away.

Gasteyer: I try not to take myself too seriously because I'm me. Everybody gets known for one thing, but they're always more than you think. I sang a lot on SNL as a joke because you kind of use what you have in your toolkit when you do sketch comedy. I started to take (singing) more seriously after I left SNL. Doing big musicals on Broadway and in Chicago (including 'Wicked' and 'Rocky Horror Picture Show') led to this act that I've been doing on and off for the last few years.

Dow: 'I'm Hip' and this show really shows off your remarkable voice. You're not doing it as a joke you're a real singer.

Gasteyer: Thanks for saying that it's not a joke. It's been fun figuring out exactly what I want to do and where I feel at home. Where I really at home is this kind of 'entertainer's jazz.' The word 'jazz' sounds serious to some people, but this is like 'ridiculous jazz.' I'm a party-thrower by nature and a hostess and joke-teller. Being too serious never felt quite right to me. This is the music I listen to at home, and I decided to put together an act that felt more authentically that kind of a throwback.

Dow: Has it been fun to interact with a different audience each night?

Gasteyer: So much fun. I'm so used to working in either New York or LA, and you can get kind of isolated that way. It's just a nice thing to be out in the world with legitimate fans. What I do is kind of like hosting a party that's how I think of it so it's a very intimate relationship that you develop with an audience. I aspire to that kind of feeling of making sure that people have a great time. Live theatre is such a great escape. There are no commercials, no distractions. You can just settle in for an hour and a half hopefully with a flask or a beverage in your hand and enjoy yourself.

Dow: I recently finished reading the two Sinatra biographies by James Kaplan and found myself regretting that I missed out on that era of entertainment. It sounds like we missed a great swingin' time.

Gasteyer: If it were up to me, we'd back in the late '50s and early '60s and it would be sort of a supper club. People would be sitting there with their tablecloths and their drinks. That sense of occasion, when people used to get dressed up to go out Ilovethat era of variety that would have been the dream for me.

Dow: A song on 'I'm Hip' that's gotten a lot of attention is your cover of Carrie Underwood's 'Before He Cheats,' but you do it like Peggy Lee singing 'Fever.' It's so cool.

Gasteyer: The classic songs that I tend to be drawn to are usually story-driven. They're really clever. Even something like 'One Mint Julep,' which isn't lyrically complicated - it's about a woman who has a julep and it screws things up for her (laughs) and she falls down a hilarious rabbit hole. I think the best songs being written right now are in country music. We may think of it as corny or twangy, but so much of it has emotional content or a funny story. It's kind of the last place for the 'American Songbook' to live.

'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.7 (Bangor/Belfast), 104.3 (Augusta/Waterville) and 107.7 (Bar Harbor/Ellsworth).

Last modified on Wednesday, 23 March 2016 12:54

Related Video

The official video for "One Mint Julep", directed by Jorma Taccone from Ana Gasteyer's album I'm Hip Purchase Album on iTunes: http://bit.ly/anaiamhip Ana Gasteyer

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