Interviews Laraine Newman's Front-Row Seat to 'Interesting Times' The renowned comedian and voice actor invites us to experience her life, from her time as a member of the original 'SNL' cast in 1970s New York City, to her addiction, recovery, and reinvention in 'May You Live in Interesting Times.' By Christina Harcar stop mute max volume 00:00 16:32 repeat Update Required To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Note: Text has been edited and does not match audio exactly.Christina Harcar: Hello, I'm Christina Harcar, and I'm delighted to chat today with Laraine Newman, in anticipation of her upcoming Audible Original, May You Live in Interesting Times. Laraine is famous as a comedian, as an original cast member of Saturday Night Live, and is a star voice-over actor in such films as Finding Nemo and Toy Story. What I learn from her memoir was that those achievements are merely the tip of a poignant and hilarious iceberg. Welcome, Laraine. Thank you for taking the time.Laraine Newman: Thank you so much, Christina. I'm gonna put that intro as an affirmation on my mirror. That's really good.CH: I think I might put that quote on my résumé. So we're even.LN: Okay!CH: So, congratulations on your memoir. How would you describe it in a sentence or two?LN: I would say that I feel like Zelig. Do you know that character that Woody Allen did? Where he just seemed be everywhere during cultural upheaval or significant cultural events? That's how I feel.CH: That is a great sentence. My follow-up question to that is, what is the significance of the title? Although I think you just tipped to it.LN: Well, it's supposedly a Chinese curse. But I looked it up, and it's actually not. It was something that was coined by someone, and then he falsely ascribed it to being a Chinese curse, but it's not. And in my case, you know, I've lived through so many changes in our culture, and so these are the interesting times I wanted to talk about, because I feel like I've had a front-row seat to all of them.CH: I definitely felt that I had a front-row seat to them, too, through the audio of your memoir, so for what it's worth. Why did you decide to tell the story now?LN: In all honesty, and much to my massive embarrassment, I wrote this so long ago, and it just like, bleh, you know, and then I thought, "Well, everything needs a second draft." And once I started doing that, I thought, "Man, this is bad," and so I just put it away, and then in between gigs, I took it out, and I tried it again, and I tried nine times. It was the kind of thing where it's like, "Oh, I know, there's some good stuff in the seventh draft. But where is it?"I became so overwhelmed and addled by the task that I just put it away. And then I was approached by Audible, so that made the difference. In all honesty it's like, "Well, there's money involved," because I never wanted the tyranny of a deadline. I wanted to have my own deadline. But this was easy, because not only did I write this book, but I wrote tons of other stuff in order to avoid writing a book. So I had a lot of material.CH: That is not uncommon, but I'm glad to hear that. And you do write a lot, so I'm glad to hear that we could be here for this story. The question I've been dying to ask is, what was your favorite story to put into this memoir, and why?LN: Oh my God, oh, I have to think about that. The ones where things go wrong. Like being locked in a building in New Orleans with Gilda for four hours, because we were forgotten during the rehearsal day. Or being backstage with her for an event and having an allergic reaction to a medication where I couldn't talk. So we had to come up with a bit I could do without speaking, which was sound effects.But then other private stuff, the stories talking about my kids and parenting you know, having hot flashes while I was diapering my youngest, being an older mom... I mean, there's just so many stories. I don't really have a favorite. That must sound so egotistical, but there's just so many.CH: No, it sounds like you love the entire book, not just the pieces of it. I think that's fair.LN: Yeah.CH: You are also a voice actor, so you didn't just write May You Live in Interesting Times, you also performed it. What is your take on the power of your own voice?LN: I think that when you incorporate characters that it just comes more alive. I also just love doing characters, and I love doing dialects. I was always fascinated by them my whole life and I still am, and just studying them for the fun of it in my car while I'm driving, trying a South African accent because they're so hard. So it felt like a performance; it felt like the whole thing was a one-woman show, which I don't want people to think of it that way, because God knows that's not something we need more of. But that's how I saw it, as a performance.I hope that others will see their experience or feel their experience, whether they're in recovery or not, and get some identification with that.CH: Was it different for you as an experienced voice actor to be performing something that you had also written? I guess you sort of touched on it, but it sounds like being a voice actor also elicited your creativity on the page.LN: That's such a great question. Well, obviously, when I do actual animation work, it is not my writing. But there is an aspect of the creative process of working in that field that is very personal to the actor. You're shown an image, you have a character description, and then what you add to it is part of your contribution. Obviously, I wrote my story, and then I thought, "Well, here's a good chance to do a kid's voice, and here's a good chance to imitate that person." It just lent itself to that kind of work.CH: Well, you know, at Audible you have double fans, because we're fans of the performance and the writing in general. Those are our two primary creative partners, so that's terrific. What do you hope listeners take away from their experience of May You Live in Interesting Times? What's your fondest hope?LN: My fondest hope is that people will be really entertained by my story. That is my fondest hope. All aspects of it, because it's not all SNL, and yet I feel that so many aspects of my life were really fun and interesting to talk about. I do talk in depth about my experience with addiction and depression, and to the best of my ability I describe the nature of it, where it comes from, how I'm working on it. I hope that others will see their experience or feel their experience, whether they're in recovery or not, and get some identification with that.CH: Thank you for that answer. Those portions of the book were really valuable to me, because I think suddenly everyone who is at home, during a pandemic, struggling to do your job, which maybe isn't entertaining, but matters, and also trying to take care of other people, and also maintaining control over whatever is in your head, I think that's a very powerful experience right now for everyone, but especially for women. I know that part of my joy of hearing your story was I see you as a working woman who went before me and managed to get done what you wanted to do, and I really admire you for a role model on that score.LN: Thank you. I appreciate it. I think also, if you're isolated, you're forced to take care of yourself, and it's a lot more challenging than one would think. There's no one with their foot on your neck saying, "Get on that Precor." "Eat better." "Watch less TV." Nobody's doing that. So it's like, "Yeah, man, come on, let's go." It takes a lot.CH: Turn off those darn screens and get to bed.LN: I know, exactly. It's like, "Why do I have to go to bed at 3 a.m.? There's nothing I gotta do tomorrow." Of course, thank goodness, I've had a lot to do. My goodness, my calendar... Someone made a joke to me, showed me a screenshot of their calendar and how empty it was because of the pandemic, and it made me look at mine and go, "How lucky am I that I am so busy?"CH: Yes. So, I have two final questions. One is kind of a question we ask everyone at Audible because we care about it. Do you like the sound of your own voice?LN: God, no. No, I do not like the sound of my own voice. You're too young to have seen the TV series of Superman, but the actress who played Lois Lane? I feel like my voice sounds just like hers, and I never liked her voice. I think that might be why I've augmented it all these years. I do not like to sound my own voice. Don't think I'm alone in that.CH: No. My final question is, what's the question you've always wanted to be asked in an interview that no one ever asked, and how would you answer it?LN: I guess, what is it like to be an older mother? What's it like to be a cheer mom? Because my younger daughter was a cheerleader. What's it like to have both kids working in your industry, and doing well? I think the most important thing to me has been my kids, so I always love talking about them when I can.CH: What's it like to have two children working in your industry, and doing well?LN: It's a double-edged sword. I am happy that they have passions, because people aren't always lucky enough to have passions from a very young age. And I love the places that my kids' interests have taken me, but I also worry about the things that could hurt them, you know? Bad reviews, periods where there's no work, what that does to a person. But I also feel like I have a perspective that can help them with that. And fortunately, they're both self-starters, and they're both very hardworking and incredibly smart and incredibly funny. I don't really worry that much about them.CH: Well, they sound wonderful. And again, I thank you for sharing stories of them, and of your career, and of your life. We at Audible are rooting for you, and we really hope that May You Live in Interesting Times entertains the world.LN: Thank you so much, Christina. 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