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Not My Job: Comedian Jenny Slate Gets Quizzed On Jennifer Lopez

BILL KURTIS: Actress and comedian Jenny Slate was one of our favorite guests in 2015. And by replaying that interview now, she will immediately become on of your favorite guests of 2016.






So it's amazing with your Marcel the Shell video, you've rocketed to fame. We've seen you on network TV, best-selling children's book author, and now finally you're on public radio. Is that exciting to you?

SLATE: Oh, - it's yeah. That seems like the grand reward, I think. I'm very excited.

SAGAL: Oh, how fun. Now, were you one of those kids who grew up listening to NPR in the back of the car all the time?

SLATE: Well, I actually am that kid. But I used to listen to NPR in the car with my mom all the time and I got really carsick - I get really carsick. And we would drive from Milton, Mass., into Cambridge, where one of my sisters went to school. And I used to get unfortunately really, like, bored by the news 'cause I was a kid and I didn't understand that things are important. And I would just hear the start of All Things Considered, like the (imitating) All Things Considered theme music).


SLATE: I would get so scared that I was about to be bored and the car sickness would ratchet up, and I would just throw up in the car.


SAGAL: So you had this - now you grew up - I love this, that you actually grew up in Milton, Mass., and you went to Milton Academy...

SLATE: I did, I did.

SAGAL: ...Which is a very, very famous prep school there in Milton. Did growing up as a prep, as they used to say, did that affect your comedy in any way?

SLATE: Oh, I don't think so? I think the main thing that affected my comedy was that my dad slept in a nightgown for most of my childhood. And it was just very funny every single night and made me realize that laughter is fun and nightgowns are cool.


SAGAL: Like one of those Ebenezer Scrooge deals with the - down to the floor nightgown?

SLATE: It went down to his ankles, and it was actually a long salmon-colored nightshirt that said the word wang on it.



ROBERTS: Did you...

SLATE: Yeah, that is my truth. Well, he worked for - he wasn't just like a strange, you know, slang word that he had on his nightgown. He worked for a computer company that also was called Wang.

SAGAL: Yeah.

SLATE: And I guess somebody was like hey Ron, here's this nightgown. I'm not exactly sure.


SAGAL: We have to ask you about Marcel the Shell 'cause it's interesting, like, all the things you've done, including staring in a film, "The Obvious Child," it's Marcel the Shell. Tell us about him.

SLATE: Sure. Well, he's a character that I created with my husband, Dean Fleischer-Camp. And he's a shell. He has a shell body and one eye and two shoes. And he's just sort of an individual. We did it for fun and made it for a little art show in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And our friends liked it and asked us to put it online so that they could see it again. And we put it on the Internet and people really - they liked it. And he's just - he has like - (imitating Marcel the Shell's voice) like a little voice like this. Like, I don't know if you can hear it but he talks like this.

SAGAL: And how did happen? Were you just sitting around your apartment with your husband and you picked up a little seashell and you started talking like that?

SLATE: Well, no. I actually - I was at a wedding. And at the time it was, like, me and a bunch of my other friends and we were trying to save some money. So there were, like, seven of us in one motel room in Pomfret, Conn. And it was, like, me and my husband and my best friend Gabe and my friend Mike and his husband Gray and, like, some other guy was in there, too, with us. Oh, my friend Matt - that's who it was. And I just felt so squished, and, like, all these boys were - they were all in the bathroom longer than I ever was. And I didn't have any space. And I think something in me kind of snapped and I was just like, (imitating Marcel the Shell's voice) I'm never getting into the bathroom. You know, and I just started...


SLATE: ...To talk in this little voice - or that's how I remember it. And then my best friend Gabe said, well, yeah, that's also kind of true. But never forget that the night before, you drank a million beers, hijacked a karaoke machine and then jumped up on top of an 18-wheeler. So you broke your brain and then you made art is what happened.


SAGAL: I was going to ask about - because you've done so many things in comedy. You were a standup for a while.


SAGAL: Is it true that you had trouble with stage fright?

SLATE: Yes. I got terrible stage fright when I moved from New York to Los Angeles. Also, that's when I developed like a lot of other weird fears, like a fear of coyotes, which is a bummer...

SAGAL: Yeah.

SLATE: ...If that continues.

SAGAL: You were afraid of coyotes?

SLATE: Oh, big time, big time.

SAGAL: How does the fear of coyotes manifest itself, Jenny?

SLATE: You know, those dogs, I just feel like they're coming for me. I really do.


SLATE: And they're laughing, and I just feel like I'm going to have a little red riding situation happen to me, you know.

SAGAL: You know that coyotes are not hyenas? Traditionally, it's the hyenas that laugh, not the coyotes.

SLATE: That's true, that's true. Hyenas laugh but they laugh really hard. You know, they do, like, the hyena laugh. But coyotes look like they're just kind of, like, laughing at you with their friends. And that's even worse.


SAGAL: So you're thinking - it's like the laughing coyote.

SLATE: Yeah.

ROBERTS: Yeah, it's like the coyotes are judging you.

SLATE: Yeah. You know, it's just the idea of, like, an organized group about to play a prank on me, and then the prank is that they eat me.


SAGAL: OK, Jenny Slate, we've invited you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: You're Jenny From the Block.

SAGAL: As hard as you try, as far as you go, you will only be the second-most famous Jenny in the world after Jennifer Lopez, the dancer, singer, actor, impresario from the Bronx. So we're going to ask you three questions about J-Lo. Get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail.


SAGAL: Bill, who is Jenny Slate playing for?

KURTIS: Diane Robinson of Mainz, Germany.

SAGAL: Mainz, Germany.

KURTIS: I think.

SAGAL: All right, are you ready to play Jenny?

SLATE: I'm ready.

SAGAL: Here we go. Here's your first question. The obsession with Jennifer Lopez's rear end began around 1998 with some crediting a story in the London Times about what it called A, quote, "her backside, her butt, her rear, her rump, her posterior, her gorgeously proud buttocks," unquote, B, quote, "the caboose that won't vamoose" or C, quote, "her rather well-defined gluteal muscles," unquote.

SLATE: (Laughter). I will go with B.

SAGAL: No, I'm afraid it was A - her backside, her butt, her rear, her rump, her posterior...

SLATE: Darn it.

SAGAL: ...Her gorgeously-proud buttocks.


SAGAL: All right, you still have two more chances.


SAGAL: J-Lo was famous for her romantic relationships, including her engagement to Ben Affleck and her marriage to singer Marc Anthony. But her first marriage was to whom? A, famed French intellectual Bernard-Henry Levi, B, a nice guy from the neighborhood who supported her through the tough times before she started to make it or C, a waiter at Gloria Estafan's restaurant in Miami?

SLATE: (Laughter) This is tough stuff. OK, let's go with C.

SAGAL: You're going to go with C? A waiter...

SLATE: The waiter.

SAGAL: ...In Gloria Estafan's restaurant in Miami? And you are right, yes.


SAGAL: J-Lopez said of her first husband, quote, "sex was like bathing in champagne, we did whatever two humans could possibly do," unquote.

SLATE: What?

SAGAL: That's what she said. The marriage lasted less than two years. I guess they ran out of champagne.


SAGAL: All right, well, you have one more question. We move forward, so she divorced the waiter and she moved forward. She got engaged famously to Ben Affleck. They became Bennifer, right?

SLATE: Right.

SAGAL: That's what they were called. And they never got married, but they did reportedly draft a prenup that among its provisions stated what? A, they were contractually obligated to have sex four times a week, B, for the duration of their marriage he would go by B-Aff or C, they could be instantly divorced just by saying the word Gigli three times.


SAGAL: Gigli, gigli, gigli.

SLATE: What was the middle one?

SAGAL: For the duration of their marriage, he would have to go by, I guess, B-Aff.


SAGAL: You're going to go with A. You are right.


SLATE: Yeah.

SAGAL: The London Times...

PAULA POUNDSTONE: What was the first one?

SAGAL: ...Reported that their prenup stated they would have to have sex four times a week.



SLATE: Wow wee woo woo, that is some romance if - I can't believe it didn't last. That is a very, very romantic contract.

SAGAL: Jenny, have you ever met J-Lo? Is this...

SLATE: You know what? I have. And...

SAGAL: You have?

SLATE: Yeah, I did. I met her when I was at "Saturday Night Live." And she was very, very lovely. She was really nice. And, you know, like, I thought she was going to be very fancy and that it would be hard to talk to her, but she was very, very nice.

SAGAL: Did she smell faintly of champagne?

SLATE: Yes. She was taking a shower with, like, a lot of bottles of champagne.

SAGAL: I understand.

SLATE: She actually did smell really good.


SAGAL: Bill, how did Jenny Slate do on our quiz?

KURTIS: I'll tell you who won, and that was Jenny - 2 out of 3.

SAGAL: Well done, Jenny.



SAGAL: Congratulations.

SLATE: Oh, good.

SAGAL: Jenny Slate stars in the comedy "Obvious Child." She's written a new book with her husband Dean Fleischer-Camp called "Marcel The Shell: The Most Surprised I've Ever Been." Jenny Slate, thank you so much for joining us.

SLATE: Thank you for having me.

ROBERTS: Bye Jenny.

SLATE: It's been a pleasure.

SAGAL: What fun to have you. Talk you soon, Jenny. Bye-bye.

SLATE: OK, bye-bye, Thank you.


JENNIFER LOPEZ: (Singing) Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got, I'm still - I'm still Jenny from the block. Used to have a little, now I have a lot...

SAGAL: When we come back, feeling hungry? You won't be after reviewing the year in food. Plus, Matt Weiner of "Mad Men" talks about the polite way to whack somebody. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.

KURTIS: Support for NPR comes from NPR stations and Home Instead Senior Care, providing an individualized approach designed to meet a family's needs. Offering a range of in-home care services from help around the house to Alzheimer's care to keep aging loved ones at home - American Jewish World Service, working for 30 years to end poverty and advance human rights worldwide. Learn more at And the SCAN Foundation, working to advance a coordinated system of high-quality services for older adults that preserve dignity and independence. More information is available at

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.