Chicken or Fish? (with Chelsea Peretti)

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Comedian and actress Chelsea Peretti isn’t great at making choices. She likes to vacillate between different options, from acting in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” to directing the feature film “First Time Female Director,” to launching the podcast “Call Chelsea Peretti” back in 2012. Sam asks her which comedy movies were most influential to her growing up, how stand-up can feel both energizing and lonely, and why she keeps bringing her phone with her during bath time.

Follow Chelsea Peretti @chelsanity on Instagram, @chelseaperetti on TikTok, and @chelseaperetti on X (formerly Twitter).

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Chelsea Peretti, Samantha Bee

Samantha Bee  00:00

I love books and I love audio, that’s why I’m so excited that Lemonada media and Apple books have teamed up to create the laminata book club, a first of its kind audio book club. This month’s book selection is Jada Pinkett Smith’s gripping, inspiring at times painfully honest memoir worthy, you can listen to a sample of Jason’s book and get copies of all of our other Lemonada book club book selections by heading over to Apple books, or using the link provided in this episode description. I really can’t believe it, but 2024 is upon us. This is our final new episode of 2023, 2023 we hardly knew ye. So I’ve been thinking back on the past year and launching this podcast and about how lucky I am to have had such thoughtful conversations with an incredible array of people. And if you’ve been listening along, you know that every interview begins with a discussion about choice because hey, as I like to remind you, I’m not just pro choice, I am pro choices each guest has taken my prompt so seriously and has given such personal answers to my question of what is a choice that has changed your life. And after about a dozen episodes, I started hearing a pattern. I’m sure you did, too while everyone you know comes to their decisions and unique ways six hole people pointed to choosing where to live as their life changing decision. Now I am not saying that this show should be sponsored by House Hunters but also I am not not saying that HGTV call me. More specifically four of those choices were about moving to New York and what is even crazier is that two of those for purchasing to go to Barnard so they could live in New York. Look, what I’m trying to say is if you’re debating picking up your life and moving somewhere new, whether it’s for love or for work, or for adventure or for family, if you think it’s the right thing to do it probably is and then apparently you get to be on my show, and I love that for me.


Samantha Bee  02:17

This is Choice Words, I’m Samantha Bee, my guest today is Chelsea Peretti and you guessed it, we talked about her foresight to move to New York for college. Oh my gosh, I love so much and I hope you enjoy listening to the conversation as much as I enjoyed having it. So take a listen and make good choices. And thank you so much for joining us this year, we’ll see you in 2024.


Samantha Bee  02:51

Oh my god, oh my god the most the most haunting like arc of light just hit one across my face and I look like I’m like an interrogator, so I’m really sorry. Yeah, totally oh, my God hey, it’s so nice to meet you.


Chelsea Peretti  03:08

You too.


Samantha Bee  03:09

Oh, my God is is I gotta say, I’m so fucking excited. I won’t say that was a swear. I’m so excited to be talking to you have right now, I’m such a huge fan of yours.


Chelsea Peretti  03:22

Thank you, I’m really excited that you were having happy to have me on the show.


Samantha Bee  03:30

Yes, I mean, I’m thrilled. Like, all this stuff is okay we have so much to talk about. You’ve done all of this stuff. You’ve directed a film. Your podcast is coming back. Okay, we’re talking about all of it. The first thing, I’m sure that you have been the perhaps okay, the way I like to start this podcast is by talking about choices, choices that people make.


Chelsea Peretti  03:52

40 song right?


Samantha Bee  03:53

That’s it,exactly, so I’m gonna talk about some of the big choices you’ve made in your life. The word means something different to everyone. Are you? Are you good at making choices? Are you good at making decisions?


Chelsea Peretti  04:09

If it’s any indicator, I was like vacillating between five different ideas of what to talk about for the choice. So fair, short. I don’t think I’m great at making choices. Like one simple indicator is at a restaurant, right? Like, oftentimes, I’m surrounded by people who look at the menu, and then they order, right, they don’t hem and haw about it, whereas like most of my life, look, I should get this or should I get this? I like this about this, but I like this about this. And you know, I’ve always wanted more of a gut feeling about things and I think it’s a strength and a weakness that I can convince myself of two sides of things very readily. And, you know, I’ve tried to get better about it. But, you know, when I was in high school, I took this Myers Briggs test, you know, that kind of talks to you about your personality, right? And whether, you know, it might be total bullshit, I don’t know but like what I would the result I had was I was in between thinking and feeling I was in between extrovert and introvert and I thought, Oh, I wonder if this is why I have such a hard time making decisions.


Samantha Bee  05:23

So interesting, is there a word for somebody who’s like, right in the eye? Who’s right in the middle? Just like […]


Samantha Bee  05:37

Oh, so wait, are you the person who’s like, I? When the waiter comes over? When the waiter comes over? They’re like, does anybody have any questions from the menu? Or like, I have a list? I have 30 questions.


Chelsea Peretti  05:47

Sometimes, I’ll be like, do you recommend like the chicken or the fish? And then like, oftentimes, they’ll be like, I guess that depends, do you like chicken? Or, like, all right, point taken, and no one has time for this. They’re kind of different one is more fish like and one is more chickeny.


Samantha Bee  06:08

Creature of the sea, and the other is a creature of land.


Chelsea Peretti  06:12

The other can sort of fly.


Samantha Bee  06:16

Are you like, would you? What is it, okay, so tell me what is the big choice? Like what’s like a big swing that you made that changed your life or even like a little, like a little pebble in the in the pond that changed everything.


Chelsea Peretti  06:29

Million little pebbles every day, that sounds bad that I have an eating and digestion problem. But I think that the big one that I was going to talk about was my decision to move to New York. When I went to college, and I yeah, I don’t know if I’m, I came out with it too soon.


Samantha Bee  06:51

No, that’s perfect, what made you decide okay, where did you? Okay, where did you go to college?


Chelsea Peretti  06:57

I wound up going to a woman’s College. Barnard College. Yeah, in the Upper West Side. But what I think is so strange about it is I had never been to New York, actually, is sort of strange but yeah, people would be people would say to me, I think you feel like you’re a New York person, which I don’t know, exactly take that.


Samantha Bee  07:22

But sometimes it’s a compliment, and sometimes that is an insult, sometimes it’s like, do you belong in New York, where you can take that attitude with you?


Chelsea Peretti  07:33

But so yeah, I’d never been there and I kind of just went off that idea that people said, I seem like I should be there in some way. And also, I think, like, there was a push for independence to do that. I mean, I think so many LA kids seem to want to be near their parents. And, you know, I think I was, I was, I think, excited by the freedom, and then my parents could come visit and stuff, but it was, it was definitely a big, big move.


Samantha Bee  08:03

That’s a big move, did you know, did you feel? Like, did you first of all, did you tour Barnard before you apply it? Or you were just like, I gotta I’m going there, I’m going to any.


Chelsea Peretti  08:15

Well, I was waitlisted, if you can imagine […]


Samantha Bee  08:21

How dare. I can’t imagine this.


Chelsea Peretti  08:25

So I like I actually went and met with them as like a supplemental thing you could apply by doing so I basically, I have a bad memory for chronology. But I think like the idea was, I went there to see New York and also meet with the administration there to try to push for getting off the waitlist, right, which ultimately, I guess, worked.


Samantha Bee  08:49

Stressful, that seems very stressful. That’s like a very heightened state, just like a meeting, to determine that’s where your future.


Chelsea Peretti  08:58

Planning is, like, I have no memory of being nervous about it. I don’t even really remember how the meeting went or what we talked about or anything, you know, but they let you what I do remember, was like construction workers kept calling when when I was walking around with my mom, and I was like, that is you know, stop it or something I said, and then they would go I was talking to your mom. I said, you know what, this is a windy city.


Samantha Bee  09:26

This is where wittiness is, in fact where I belong.


Chelsea Peretti  09:30

Yeah, so yeah. But I mean, it is just crazy thinking of seeing New York for the first time being from the Bay Area. I mean, it really is just like, the scale of it is so exciting. And especially when you’re young and full of energy. You know, now I’m now I’m convalescing in Los Angeles.


Samantha Bee  09:52

Did you know instantly were you like, Oh, I’m gonna be here for a while. I love this.


Chelsea Peretti  09:57

So yeah, I mean, I just think it was so exciting. I mean, I remember because my school was on the Upper West Side, I remember going to the selca and feeling like it was like the end of the earth. Like I didn’t know where, you know, it was so far downtown feeling to me and I didn’t have my bearings at all and then you know, as soon as I graduated, I moved downtown. And then the Upper West Side seemed like a distant.


Samantha Bee  10:21

Far away suburb


Chelsea Peretti  10:22

Yeah, but yeah, I mean, it’s so weird to when you live in New York for so long, because you go back and you just sort of feel like a ghost. You know, so much of New York is walking by things seem oh, that store is gone this moved in? Oh, there’s this restaurant and, you know, uh, now when I go back, I’m kind of like, you know, I go to like a few spots that still exist, but I feel a little bit out of it.


Samantha Bee  10:49

What, at what point did you decide to start doing stand up?


Chelsea Peretti  10:53

I was temping, and I met another temp who did stand up. And she encouraged me to try it out. So I wrote like little my first set, I wrote on the back of like, a piece of wrapping paper while I was temping, and all I know is like that set did have a crop dusting joke on it, which is so like, humiliating to me. Like, I’d like to, like think my first jokes were brilliant. And I went and did a set at the Parkside Lounge, which was hosted by Joey Gay and Damien Sammarco, I think was his name. And it was like such a, you know, I don’t want to say boys club, but it was just a lot of dudes. And they were you know, it was it was a very, it was, I would say it was a fun room, and I you know, I kind of caught the bug a little bit.


Samantha Bee  11:48

Did you? Did you catch it right away, you were like, I like, I will do this, like, what made you decide to do it a second time, because I feel like that’s the real that’s the real thing.


Chelsea Peretti  11:59

Proving myself, I mean, I think for me stand up so much of it is about proving myself. I mean, that’s the negative I would say and the positive is that I loved the immediacy of like, I can think of something today and I can say it to a bunch of people tonight, right? You know, I loved that, you know, feeling of immediacy and control in having your, your voice completely untouched, for better or for worse, you know, and directly to a group of people, I think was exciting to me. I because I wanted to be an actor, but I just didn’t feel like I didn’t feel like anyone was gonna write something for someone like me. So there was a sense of having some more control with stand up.


Samantha Bee  12:47

We’ll be right back with Chelsea Peretti after this.


Samantha Bee  13:07

I feel like having your your words, like untouched by other people’s hands or minds is kind of it’s rare in this industry. And it’s just like an exciting, like having any element of control in the entertainment industry is such a beautiful gift.


Chelsea Peretti  13:26

It is, yeah. I mean, it also can be sort of, you know, it’s such a lone wolf thing. And it can be sort of exhausting, and I think, you know, in the same way that I’m talking about being torn about things, like, you know, I loved being in a writers room and the collaborative newness and the riffing on things in a group and you know, there is that and stand up off stage. But, you know, especially once you start succeeding and stand up, it actually in some ways becomes lonelier, because when you’re all doing open mics, you’re kind of all in the same boat, and you’re hanging out every night at different open mics, or shows. Even when you get a little better, you’re still on the same shows a lot at least, that was my experience. But then once people start going on the road, and headlining, you’re kind of off on your own so much more.


Samantha Bee  14:11

Right, is that type must be hard to kind of wrap your brain around.


Chelsea Peretti  14:15

Yeah, I mean, it’s funny with all the comedians that have now have allegations against them and stuff, it’s like it does the lifestyle of being on the road and a different town all the time does fit really well with like addictive personalities. And you know, I think for me, like in in many ways, it’s not I don’t know, I mean, it’s fun when you’re on tour and you have your crowd that’s coming out for you. So I’d like to do it sometime again. It’s hard with a small child like, I think the lifestyle of Stand Up where it’s, I describe it as like a jealous boyfriend like it feels like you have to get up every single night every weekend, every holiday like there’s no real time where you’re oh, no, don’t do stand up tonight, like right you know stand ups will do stand ups will do stand up every night.


Samantha Bee  15:03

And I like here’s my, my weekend is Friday, Saturday, like there’s no real. There’s no concentrated time off, that would be really hard.


Chelsea Peretti  15:13

Yeah, so I think it’s like feels like going to the gym or something where it’s not that fun to do it sporadically. But on the other hand, the lifestyle of doing it every night, particularly for me is like, I don’t always feel amazing after I get off stage like I think some of my peers do, you know.


Samantha Bee  15:31

Oh, you don’t? How do you? How do you do you feel like wrung out after doing it? Or you’re like me?


Chelsea Peretti  15:46

I don’t know, that’s the way I would put it but I think I just pick it whatever I didn’t think landed or should this order have been different, or, you know, compare every show to the best show I’ve ever had, you know, so I don’t know, I see a lot of startups who they get off stage and they feel so energized and they feel up for me a lot of times I get offstage, I’m like, oh, this didn’t work, or I forgot this joke or did it? And so, you know, I think if I could break through that, that would help probably.


Samantha Bee  16:25

Does it help you? Does it help? Actually, this is such a weird thing for me to say. But like, when I had little kids that actually helped me to have little kids in that in that time, because there’s almost no time for you to pick it your own stuff like you actually.


Chelsea Peretti  16:41

And it  focuses you, Yeah, I mean, I think that’s kind of how I felt when I wrote my movie. Like, I basically was like, I can’t stay up till four in the morning, like I used to, I mean, this is what I used to like to do do stand up, I’d be all hyper than I’d stay up, eat like a late dinner afterwards, half the time, stay up till three and four, like either writing or watching something that effectively would be research and you know, whatever. And with a child, like, they get up super early, and you wind up going to bed earlier and you’re just overall more tired. And every waking second is bringing some on water. I don’t know what it does to your creative vessel. But but basically I agree that it it does make it that when they’re at preschool or when they’re gone, or when they’re hot, you have childcare, you’re like, I gotta go, you know, it’s all systems go. And so, you know, that when I wrote my movie, I felt like, Okay, I’m just doing like these eight hour days where I’m like, you know, even then I’m feeling guilty in the afternoon and evening, but um.


Samantha Bee  17:47

It definitely feels like it’s like a different version of the artists way book. It’s just like, have a small child who’s like, it’s like a toddler, like around toddler age, you’ll get it all done. You’ll you’ll Yeah, like, from 10 to four. You just write so hard, because you know, all over once they pop their head in the room, then you’re just. Then you’re just, employed by them.


Chelsea Peretti  18:12

I remember Ike Barinholtz telling us that like when we had our child like babies bring luck. And I thought that was a cool, cool way of looking at it. But anyway, yeah, I don’t know. It focused me in some ways, but it also has definitely been something to figure out how to navigate.


Samantha Bee  18:33

Right? Do you, isn’t that so funny when you think back to those times when you would like eat a full chocolate grape at three o’clock in the morning and be like, this is fine.


Chelsea Peretti  18:43

I know. Well, that’s also dependent on sleeping late. You know, as soon as I got Brooklyn nine, nine, I mean, my call times were 630 in the morning most of the time. So like, I really, you know, I know there’s standups who get on network shows and they are able to do sets every night somehow. I just wasn’t that person, like for me. I was like, I did feel wrung out, because it was called.


Samantha Bee  19:08

Bad call times, yes.


Chelsea Peretti  19:10

Yeah, and 12 hour days and that kind of stuff. I just I was coming from the more lone wolf stand up, point of view, so that was like a big adjustment.


Samantha Bee  19:23

Tell me about first time. female director what made you decide to like was it? Did you start it in a fanciful later, we’re just like, I’m gonna start writing. Are we like, I have a core, I have a central idea for a film, I’m going to write it starting now.


Chelsea Peretti  19:41

Well, I mean, I was basically I had given myself a slot at UCB, where I was like, I’m gonna write something for a show and gotten kind of gave myself a deadline to make myself start writing. So I have this show, I can’t remember how I decided it was going to be an excerpt of a play but I just started my I believe writing this play in the play was called Rains Coming In and it was a southern rural drama. And we put it on at UCB and it was a podcast, I released it as a podcast as well. But it was just one of those nights where you walk off the stage and you do feel so or for me, I felt so energized and up. And I feel like one of those signs that a show has been so fun as everyone wants to keep hanging out. And we like all Winton, to lapu Bell and all, you know, the bar next door, and we all hung out and everyone just, it just felt like a different kind of thing to be reading this theater. And I grew up going to theater at Berkeley wrap, which was our local theater. That was amazing and so I was making fun of things that are funny to me about theater, but also there, it came from such a place of love and, and it was just so fun and so anyways, and then I don’t know, like, somehow I can’t this is where my brain is so bad but I know Amy Poehler became involved as a producer. And I can’t remember the order of what, how it all went down but we wound up developing that into a movie, and it was about like the actors putting on this play. So some of it is in the movie and that’s kind of how it came to be, I really was like, you know, movies always felt so daunting and I always wanted to write one., and be I’m such a perfectionist, and I know how much work they are that I kind of felt like no ideas, substantiates the work and the budget of a movie right now. So I just sort of was like, trying not to be a perfectionist not to say I didn’t work hard on it but I was like, let’s just go with this. It was a fun show, it was it’s I can these are funny characters and and what if I just believed in it and kept developing it?


Samantha Bee  22:00

Like that, too? What if I just, what if I just believed in myself what I just believed in this project, but what happens.


Chelsea Peretti  22:07

Sometimes it is that simple. Choosing because you know I am very, you know, self doubting at times. And I’m self critical so Amy was so helpful in that regard of just being like, this is funny, here’s a deadline, yeah.


Samantha Bee  22:26

More with Chelsea Peretti after one more break.


Samantha Bee  22:46

You talked at the beginning of this about going with your gut and it feels like you are driven by your gut in a lot of ways, and just like just kind of organically just continuing forward, just moving forward, like step by step until suddenly, you’re directing a whole entire movie and it’s real.


Chelsea Peretti  23:06

Yeah, I mean, it’s weird, because I am really self doubting but sometimes it’s like, combined with weird bursts of blind confidence. Like, like, right, the right before the pandemic, I started making this music album, and it was just going to be a joke with my friend Kojak who’s a music producer and we were going to make all these songs about coffee and because he made music for my podcast, and and then it just kept going like this rabbit hole where I feel like he was sick of the music industry, I was sick of like the entertainment industry and we just started making this weird album that kept going and going and going, and I don’t look in retrospect, I’m like, what was I doing? I know, I don’t even like think I can sing that well, I you know, it’s like, I don’t know what I was doing, and like, similarly, like, I’m like, I’m going to make a movie, and it’s this huge ensemble cast, and I’m in it and I’m just going to make this and I mean, to be fair, I did actually try to back out of directing it but yeah, I was like maybe someone else should direct this, you know, and only time will tell if that was the correct instinct.


Samantha Bee  24:14

Oh my God, I’m so sorry for this babe this literally, the light is coming in outrageously splice fully blinding me, I can’t do anything about it, there’s nothing I can do.


Chelsea Peretti  24:25

I love that you’re apologizing to me. I feel like it’s more it’s more seems painful for you.


Samantha Bee  24:31

I know that I look so scary in the zoom and I just.


Chelsea Peretti  24:35

You really don’t. I’m sorry, I’m glad I’m sorry.


Samantha Bee  24:41

That’s so funny that you were like should somebody else direct those because I don’t know, it’s like, does it feel like one too many jobs and also just a gigantic job?


Chelsea Peretti  24:51

Yeah, I mean, I think like it was so ambitious to have such a large cast. And I think you know being in it, and also directing it, I truly was naive about, oh, I’ll just watch playback but like, that really isn’t an option when you have hundreds of people standing around like to watch playback of every day. So, you know, in many ways, like, I was flying blind with what I was even getting like and learning it in the edit what what some of the actors were even doing and scenes.


Samantha Bee  25:11

Right, what was the editing process? Like for you? Like, are you? Because that is I mean, that is we get all the footage, but the movie is made in the edits sweet. Did you enjoy that process?


Chelsea Peretti  25:39

Um, I have to say like, I think the editing process in many ways was maybe my least favorite just because there’s the planning is like, location scouting, you’re like, oh, okay, we found this perfect. Okay, I don’t know and then shooting there’s this extroverted adrenaline, you know? And then I think editing is so painstaking. And, and there’s this feeling of like, what if I missed something from the footage, like, especially for comedy, you know, you’re just like, what if there was this one funny thing someone did, and I never saw it, or I don’t know, right? Also, it’s like, you really want the thing to be done and to be able to watch it and you have to crawl through this process, and I mean, on the other hand, there’s incredible magic that you can make happen in the edit, which is a fun, kind of.


Samantha Bee  26:33

Like surgery, it’s like just like a bit meticulous it’s like doing, like you do all this, like fun artistic stuff, and then hand surgery at the end for the longest amount of time. Much longer than all the other stuff, you’re in there like going like, can I see two more seconds of exactly this?


Chelsea Peretti  26:54

Yeah, you’re like, it really does feel in some ways, like you’re a backseat driver. You know, like, so that part is like, I don’t know, I mean, I really did, like, have fun with it too. and stuff but it’s like, I do feel like I could edit forever. Like, I would love to re edit and change things even now. But, um, but yeah, and then it’s like, you have to lose stuff that, you know, in comedy, which is so brutal, you have to lose a funny joke sometimes for a story to flow better or make more sense, or.


Samantha Bee  27:29

I did hear you say that you wanted the film to include stuff that like on TV would be cut for time. So we’re huge, did you? Were you able to? Were you able to do as much of that as you wanted? When you were pulling the phone together?


Chelsea Peretti  27:43

Yeah, I do think that there was some bits that have that element, and you know, it’s not, it’s not to everyone’s taste necessarily, obviously, because that’s why network TV is the pace that it is but, you know, I love, you know, like holy grail or things where there’s these long drawn out bits of that are just silly and played with an intensity, and so I do feel like, you know, really proud of some of those moments and performances. I loved my cast and I felt like you know, I just I was like, being that the ensemble was so big. I really did go, oh my god, I just need for each person to have at least one moment where you see, you know, what is so funny about them and you see them shine. And then that was really important to me.


Samantha Bee  28:42

How did you? How did you, this is such a weird question, but like, how did you learn how to direct years ago, I observed pink, okay, directing, or just like pulling together? The singer pink like in a studio setting. I wasn’t a part of the transaction at all but just like as an observer, I was watching her direct everything correct things that were correct things that were off. I just watched her be in control of a full set, and it was like kudos to her I don’t know her at all I think she’s great, whatever. But it was so instructive to me, it really because she was like not happy about certain elements and she just pulled it together so professionally. How did you learn how to do that? How did you learn to be a director is it is a lot there’s so many moving parts all the time., and you are, you are the axis.


Chelsea Peretti  29:45

I think that my chaotic childhood. This is like the spiritual answer, I think my chaotic childhood gave me some tools to be calm under chaos, and gave me some tools to listen to very differing powerful voices being you know that my parents were divorced and stuff and not amicably. Not saying that, you know, people weren’t amicable on this movie, they really were, but just listening to different department heads and talking to different people and, you know, being able to hold all these different points of view and kind of amalgamate them all into some sort of truth for the project, I felt like, in some core way I was prepared for emotionally. I think that having strong opinions about comedy comes very natural to me. I think I should have probably prepared more, in certain ways, like I will, I didn’t have the budget for a storyboard, which I really wish I had. But, you know, the technical side, and, you know, figuring out how to approach not being able to see playback, and all that kind of stuff, you know, I learned a lot for what I would want to do if I took this on again, right. So I probably wouldn’t do a massive cast for my second movie, just because, you know, I think it does make it so much harder to serve everyone. And, anyhow, I know, I forget to feel like I didn’t answer your question.


Samantha Bee  31:30

No, I believe that you think you actually really did? Would you do it again? Or will you do it again?


Chelsea Peretti  31:35

I’d like to? yeah, I mean, I think it’s really hard because even for like finding department heads and stuff, it’s actually really hard to even think of comps because there’s so few comedy movies made like, I mean, when I was a teenager, there were huge budget ones and really small ones that I loved, that Were coming out with regularity you know.


Samantha Bee  31:59

Yes, it does feel like that, there’s been a real contraction, like comedy movies are just not, made and we want them at the public, I feel like people want them.


Chelsea Peretti  32:13

I know, it’s weird, but I don’t know it’s like, I guess I feel like there’s a lot of comedy TV right now that is prestige viewing and things like that. But in terms of like the comedy or tours, it feels like they’ve all kind of come and gone a little bit and and then it’s just like all, I guess, Marvel movies, or? I don’t know, but maybe that’s maybe I’m being naive, because I don’t know, there are a lot of budget movies, I guess the problem is also you don’t hear about a lot of them.


Samantha Bee  32:45

Right, right. Mm hmm does this sound well, it this chain, it ends here it ends here because now we’re going to experience a resurgence after first time female director everybody’s gonna go oh, hold on, we should be doing these movies but like, I don’t know, like my husband and I got together first date was we went to see waiting for Guffman I mean, like those, big kind of I loved just like amazing. Are there comedy movies that you can think back to? Like, when you were growing up that were just so influential to you that you think do you go […]


Chelsea Peretti  33:24

When I was in high school, I had like a lot of male friends. And we would watch Adam Sandler movies and Shattuck cinemas, on Telegraph Avenue and Berkeley, which no longer exists, I just found on a visit home. Just like the arc light doesn’t exist, you know, like, I just don’t know where it’s all headed. You know, like, like, when I talked to like, teenagers and stuff they’re like, we don’t watch movies, you know? So I don’t I don’t know where it’s all headed but we used to watch Adam Sandler movies and like Jim Carrey and all those things, and then there was Wes Anderson movies and Parker Posey, I’ve watched like every movie she was ever in, and, um, and then there was Judd Apatow movies and then there was bridesmaids, and that’s about it.


Samantha Bee  34:15

And that was.


Chelsea Peretti  34:16

No, but you know, it’s, it’s, I feel like, at the moment, it’s it’s not as clear if there’s a particular vibe and comedy right? When I was younger, it was super broad and I thought a lot of it was very funny, then that became kind of frowned upon and things were more naturalistic and a lot of that was really funny? But now I can’t exactly say what it is.


Samantha Bee  34:41

So okay, so let’s talk about your podcast because you are bringing back called Chelsea Peretti, is this correct that you launched that? Initially and 2012 oh, my God.


Chelsea Peretti  34:53

Doesn’t seem possible right.


Samantha Bee  34:54

When people I mean you are onto something. You really had your finger on the pulse?


Chelsea Peretti  35:02

Yeah, well, it is funny like, there was no competition, I feel like there was not that much going on and I had no ads, I mean, it was very much like, just a way to interface with comedy fans and kind of have that community, I guess and now it’s like, everyone, everyone has a podcast. I mean, it kind of remember that in New York when, like, no one had a website, and then all of a sudden, every comedian was building a website, you know?


Samantha Bee  35:33

Yeah. Or like, when? When Twitter, I mean, like, rip Twitter when Twitter started and just all these, it was like, news, people and comedians at first.


Chelsea Peretti  35:44

And then although I think about that all the time ago, how weird is it that not even that long ago, Twitter was literally all the best comedians across the globe? Just writing hell of jokes, and everyone laughing at them and that was it. I mean, it was largely that and it’s so crazy how far from that life is now.


Samantha Bee  36:06

Could not be more upside down world version of that, truly.


Chelsea Peretti  36:12

I mean, and also just anything you joke about, I mean, it for me, like the canary in the coal mine, I made a joke about selfies. And I thought it was, I mean, it didn’t even occur to me, this joke would be, you know, attacking anyone’s deep core values. I was saying selfies were vain in some way or another and all the responses were just like, selfies, or how I control the male gaze and selfies, selfies with that, and I was like, whoa, like, no, not even that I was discounting what they were saying but I was just like, well, we’ve entered a new era, like, we know that, you know, that a joke is going to be responded to with this much fervor when it really is relatively harmless, you know, it really isn’t.


Samantha Bee  37:04

There’s much worse things like there’s like real things that are bad that can happen to you.


Chelsea Peretti  37:09

And also, like, even if you are redefining the male gaze, you’re still being vain.


Samantha Bee  37:14

Things can be true.


Chelsea Peretti  37:15

Yeah, like I you know, so I always am, like, you know, again, in this middle torn place, trying to learn from people, but also kind of trying to have some common sense and maintain my sense of humor as well so.


Samantha Bee  37:30

It is like it is a hornet’s nest, literally, like everything that you say and do is feels like stepping into, like a hornet’s nest that was buried under a log. And you just really, it’s very, it’s unpredictable, and it will, it will shock you.


Chelsea Peretti  37:46

Yeah, it’s it’s very much, it’s kind of like, what is the upside? I don’t know, get some. I think things have gotten so mob mentality now, and so kind of like.


Samantha Bee  38:01

So it’s the perfect time to relaunch culture.


Chelsea Peretti  38:06

But the funny thing is, like, these phone calls are really fun. Like, you know, it is like a it’s a, it’s a life affirming thing and it it it does affirm my sense of humanity, because I just have random people call and then we do have like, often or occasionally anyway, long, kind of heartfelt conversations, or we’re cracking up together. And so I don’t know, there’s an exhilarating thing to just randomly taking calls and seeing where they go.


Samantha Bee  38:35

Oh totally, do you still does anything? Something like, x or Twitter or whatever? Does it have anything to like, is there does it? Or is there anything left for it? Does it have anything to offer any more at all? I asked myself this question, every single morning.


Chelsea Peretti  38:51

I mean, I don’t really mess around with x. But part of it is like I couldn’t log in on my phone anymore and then like I can on my laptop, but it’s just like, it doesn’t feel like and I mean, look, we’ve been through this before with Friendster or all these other you know, Blogspot I’ve I’ve adopted all these different technologies, and then they kind of fade into oblivion, so why not x? You know, I think it is weird, though, because x did feel like the center of my universe for many years and perhaps that’s not a healthy thing I mean, that that was becoming my news source my everything, you know, and anyhow, I don’t know, and I also just think comment culture. I’m not convinced it’s good for anyone I mean, here’s what happens now is that I go online and almost, I would say 80% of the time, I just feel much worse afterwards. You know, there was there, there was a time where I was laughing a lot more going online, and now you know, it’s it’s It’s a much angrier place and.


Samantha Bee  40:03

Much angrier and auger I definitely feel like my own personal algorithms, the only things I’m stopping to look at I just told my husband that this this this morning, I was like, the only really real content that I’m getting fed right now is cats launching themselves into Christmas trees and ponies,Yep and ponies that want pets, like little dancing ponies that want back to innocent.


Chelsea Peretti  40:30

That is the most innocent algorithm ever.


Samantha Bee  40:33

So the only place I’m stopping.


Chelsea Peretti  40:35

What? yeah, mine was like I got into a weird Bobcat or those cats with like the lung tips? Yeah, I don’t know why I was literally yesterday debating should I say I’m not interested in these kinds of posts, because it’s just disproportionately these cats that I’m like, I don’t know this and I don’t know, I just think it’s not good for my brain the scrolling and I don’t want to bury my head in the sand in terms of like news and what’s going on in the world. But I think that when it’s like, all day long scrolling and reading all these angry people’s comments all day long.


Samantha Bee  41:15

I don’t know, I definitely was abroad for like, a couple of days just doing this weird little job. And I was definitely noticed that people in other places aren’t as we if our rulers were not at all sitting at the breakfast restaurant, with their face fucking buried in the phone the way that I was.


Chelsea Peretti  41:40

Right, and I took that on board, I might need to move there.


Samantha Bee  41:43

I was in Dublin and I was like, hey, wait a minute. I’m the only one here who’s like, sit at like a demon like demonically scrolling well, eating like flick my side project was eating an egg. But my real work was like, seeing getting really mad. And I thought maybe I should.

Chelsea Peretti  42:09

What were they doing having conversation?

Samantha Bee  42:11

Yeah, they were doing this yeah, they were like sipping a drink, talking to each other, staring into space reading.

Chelsea Peretti  42:19

You know what, that is a thing that I really do like, think like, our brains have just been completely taken over. Like, you know, like, staring into space is valuable, so valuable. And it is when you like, I do think like, you know, as someone who used to smoke cigarettes, like, I do feel like the phone is like a cigarette that just is eternal. You know, it never has to be put out it’s like Hanukkah candles, or whatever, what I don’t know the law enough. But anyway, I just feel like, it’s like, if you need an escape from whatever you’re worried about whatever you’re thinking about, it’s a way of just numbing out and detaching from, whether it’s a good or bad thing ,whatever is going on in your brain.

Samantha Bee  43:05

Detach, yes, yeah it’s like, well, how do you unspool your brain I guess you’ve so much going on and I feel like, for me, the imagery that works is actually unspooling it’s like, on winding all those things that I put up that a like personally wind it up myself it’s like an action that I do, how do you undo that? Like, what are the things that do that for you?

Chelsea Peretti  43:32

I mean, I was gonna say baths, but I truthfully, most of the time, bring my phone into the bath, which is fair and bad. And like, I’ll bring a book, and I’ll set it by the bath, and then I’ll still bring my phone and not touch the book.

Samantha Bee  43:44

Just in case just in case the books like you just need to check in on something.

Chelsea Peretti  43:48

But regardless, I do think that baths are like amniotic fluid, you know, it’s like it brings you back to this womb like state and I think they are very comforting because I don’t drink or do any drugs anymore. So like, for me, like when people talk about you take this drink, take the edge off, you know, which I’ve had people many times hand me drinks and say that when I don’t drink, right, and it’s like, oh, so what I find is like taking a bath takes the edge off taking a walk for like 40 minutes takes the edge off while watching an action movie, takes the edge off but the truth of the matter is in all those things now, like it is very hard for me not to involve my phone in pretty much anything right? Even when I go on walks sometimes I go you know what, just don’t stare at your phone the whole time. Look at trees, look at birds, like take in the day like and, you know, like when people talk about like, are we going to become run by robots or whatever it’s like we already are right? We already have this AI integrated into our hand at everything we do, whether it’s exercise, whether it’s food, whether it’s a I’m taking a bath or whatever it’s like, even when I’m unwinding, I’m still integrating. Those things, right and I really lately have been like, it’s too much and I miss, because I have a generation in which I experienced life before this, I know what it’s like to not have a smartphone. And it was, in many ways better, I really do think. So, you know, but do I have the willpower to give it up? It’s hard, because GPS is how I get around. My clock is my phone, you know, this is how I keep up with my mom or my dad, so or this is how I take photos now. So like, every time you go, or it’s how I count my steps every day. So whatever, so every time you’re like, I’m not gonna get on my phone, one of those things draws you to pick up your phone and then you’re like, oh, I have a text, oh, I have an email, oh, I just open Instagram, or whatever it is. So you know, when I contemplate trying to downsize the role of my phone in my life, it’s very hard to figure out how to do it.

Samantha Bee  46:07

Very hard, I don’t have any solutions for you, because I’m the same, I’m the same way, but I’ll definitely it was it was slightly shaming, to look up at all the people around me and see that they were just like, living living oh, I should try that. Okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna ask you one last question. And that is, I guess, like, how do you decide? How do you decide what projects you’re going to work on? Now? I’m sure that things are kind of common.

Chelsea Peretti  46:42

I was like, in my very start of my career, I had this model of go where the energy is, you know.

Samantha Bee  46:49

Oh, that’s good.

Chelsea Peretti  46:51

Yeah, but then I think like, once you have a little bit of success, then the energy is like, in really weird things that come your way, you know, I honestly am not sure like, I, in the pandemic, I would look at my old emails and I’d be like, oh, I turned down too many things, you know, but I think it was because I had a small child and I was on a network show, that was like, 23 episodes a year and I was just like, overwhelmed and now I’m like, wanting to have more of an energy of just say yes to things, you know, like, I feel like I need a paradigm shift. And I want to get out of my comfort zone and I think like Hollywood is so commodified, creativity is so commodified, that any idea you have, it’s like, well, how do I sell it, and how do I pack right? And I’m trying to figure out, like, I remember, like, how to just be excited, by my creativity, and not instantly turn it into money or status evaluations of myself, you know? Because it’s, it can be such a painful place to be, you know.

Samantha Bee  48:06

Right, like creativity for the sake of creativity, with no, like, with no ambition for it outside of the process itself.

Chelsea Peretti  48:15

Yeah, or just, you know, what would be it? You know, I mean, I guess that is why I made a coffee album, it was like, I just want to do this weird thing and it’s a fun journey that I’m on and it feels sort of liberating in a weird way. And just how stupid it is, and, and pointless.

Samantha Bee  48:37

Like, to lean into stuff that’s like stupid and fun, like, yeah, things can be fun.

Chelsea Peretti  48:43

Yeah, and just always, like, keep growing and keep learning. And so yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I think like, you know, being a parent to like, sometimes, like, what I’m open to doing now is so different from in my 20s. And I love spontaneity, I love adventure and this career is so good for that. But when you have a child in school, and they’re young, and you know, it does make things a little more challenging, sometimes, like an offer to do something in Atlanta for 10 days is a little like a you know, I don’t know.

Samantha Bee  49:19

Yeah, so that’s tough. I don’t know, I know, it’s like usually, like the criteria that you have in your life for what makes a project doable is changes a lot.

Chelsea Peretti  49:30

Yeah and it changes from year to year, you know, and I also do think as my son gets older, like, I will start to have more flexibility again, you know. But mainly, I just, I want to there’s there’s a number of people where I’m like, if anything came in from them, I’d want to do it, right, like people that I feel creatively aligned with that I’d be excited to work with.

Samantha Bee  49:52

Right, oh, my God, it was awesome talking to you. Thank you so much joy to talk to you, thank you so much for saying yes.

Samantha Bee  50:09

That was Chelsea Peretti and I had no choice but to look up one thing she mentioned taking a Myers Briggs test when she was younger and I realized that is not something that I have ever done. I had to know what I was, wow. Hold your applause. But joining the ranks of Queen Elizabeth the Second Sigmund Freud, John Claude Van Damme and both watch Uncle Owen from Star Wars. I am an ISTJ. It feels good to be surrounded by my people, except for George HW Bush, who was also an ISTJ. And, as always good news, there’s more choice words with Lemonada Premium subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content, like a special outtake from this very interview. Subscribe now in Apple podcasts.

CREDITS  51:15

Thank you for listening to Choice Words which was created by and is hosted by me. We’re a production of Lemonada Media, Kathyrn Barnes, […] and Kryssy Pease produce our show. Our mix is by James Barber. Steve Nelson is the vice president of weekly content. Jessica Cordova Kramer, Stephanie Wittles Wachs and I are executive producers. Our theme was composed by […] with help from Johnny Vince Evans . Special thanks to Kristen Everman, Claire Jones, Ivan Kuraev and Rachel Neil. You can find me at @Iamsambee on Twitter and at @realsambee on Instagram. Follow Choice Words wherever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership.

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