“I Love That for You” stars use “great tragedy” to find comedic joy | Entertainment

After more than four decades in show business Jennifer Lewis just wants to have a good time. So when the 65-year-old veteran of the stage and screen had the opportunity to star alongside Alumni of Saturday Night Live Vanessa Bayer and Molly Shannon in the comedy series Showtime “I Love That for You,” she didn’t need much persuasion.

During a recent video chat with two of her fellow stars, Lewis can’t help but appreciate Shannon – even sharing his own rendition of “Superstar!” Shannon’s shout is immortalized on “SNL”. Although Lewis was less familiar with Bayer, co-author, executive producer, and central star of “I Love That for You,” she now praises the ever-optimistic 40-year-old as an “angel of cotton candy and Christmas morning.”

In fact, Bayer helped cultivate such a fun atmosphere on the set that Lewis wondered if the immeasurable positive was too good to be true. So, one day during the filming, Lewis decided to address this topic by asking Bayer, “Aren’t you going to, say, turn around? It’s real, isn’t it? ”

Bayer recalls his remark with inconspicuous amusement: “Wait for next season – I’ll be great b —-“.

“What she can’t become,” Lewis says, laughing. “At that moment, I knew everything would be fine.”

“I Love That for You,” which premiered last weekend and airs new series every Friday, Bayer as a rookie leading a home shopping channel that saves his job, lying that childhood cancer is back. Shannon portrays the saleswoman with the longest online experience – a recently divorced, experiencing identity crisis – while Lewis plays their profanity, reckless boss.

The series, created by Bayer and former SNL writer Jeremy Bayler, is sold as a moral dilemma through the workplace. And there is an autobiographical element: the premise is inspired by Bayer’s own fight with leukemia in adolescence, which took almost a year of aggressive treatment.

When it comes to this kind of public introspection, Bayer has a company among its cast. Lewis recounted in her 2017 book “Mothers of Black Hollywood,” discussing her past sexual addictions and years of battling bipolar disorder. In “Hello, Molly!”, Shannon’s recently published memoir, a 57-year-old girl reflects on the deaths of her mother, sister and cousin in a 1969 car crash driven by her drunken father.

As Lewis emphasizes, “All three come from a great tragedy.”

“I thought about it,” Shannon says. “We all kind of tell our stories.”

“We’ve all been through a lot,” Bayer adds. “For me, even behind the scenes, just to see how these women manage their lives and how they treat everyone is a lesson.”

The pathways of the actresses were scheduled for the summer of 2017, shortly after the Amy Bayer nominee finished seven seasons in the SNL, when she and Bayler met for brunch and came across their mutual admiration for home buying channels. When the duo decided to reunite on television, develop an idea and consider how to complete the main character, as a result, they included a long-standing desire of Bayer to write about her real cancer diagnosis – in particular, how she used it. illness as an occasion to be late for classes, to give up the date of return home and a sense of guilt for other privileges.

“I felt it would always be interesting to do something by exploring the fact that when I was sick, I really enjoyed the benefits of it,” Bayer says. “Something that helped me get through this is humor and the pleasure of just trying to get what I could out of it.”

Bayer admits that she has a lot in Joanna Gold, the characters of “I Love That for You”, which she plays with a willing smile and with a love of anxious energy – even if her screen colleague adorns these tics and traits. “It’s kind of awkward and, especially since I was a little younger, it’s [idea of] is playing catch-up to become an adult, ”explains Bayer, who has booked reruns for“ Brooklyn Nine-Nine ”and“ Will & Grace ”after leaving“ SNL ”but is deciding her first starring role on screen.

Like Jackie Stilton, a home shopping star who takes Joanna under her wing, Shannon shares the impulses of her character, but not so much her sense of hyper-feminine style that comes complete with leather pants, flawless manicures and the ever-ringing excesses of jeweler excesses.

“The script is so well written that it just jumps off the page,” says Shannon, whose latest roles include “The Other Two” and “The White Lotus.” It really reminded me of comedies with characters I love, such as “News Air” and “Tutsi”. It had love and comedy, and it was fantastic, and I just said, “I have to be in this.” «

Although Sybil Shepherd was originally elected Patricia Kunken’s head of the network, various factors, including a year-long delay in filming the pilot caused by a coronavirus, forced her to leave the project. The postponement turned out to be accidental. Lewis was unavailable before the pandemic because of her commitment to Black-ish, but the recent conclusion of ABC’s longtime sitcom allowed her to play Patricia and turn her own mess on the ice “I Love That for You”. the queen.

While three actresses from different generations, they quickly found common ground in their Midwest roots: Bayer and Shannon grew up in a Cleveland suburb, and Lewis grew up in Missouri.

“We came from where we are now, so it brings grounding,” Lewis says. “But“ wisdom ”is a word I would really weigh because we have been trained. Having lived the spectrum, you bring as an artist all that you are. For these two seconds before the action, all your selves are present. And it’s very interesting to watch Vanessa and Molly on the set when they bring this amazing experience to the table. “

Bayer says she has always been something of a class clown, specializing in her teachers ’childhood experiences. But discovering that she can laugh through leukemia treatment has directed her to such legendary comedy establishments as the Chicago Second City impromptu troupe and the SNL.

“I wanted to remind my friends that I’m still the same Vanessa who loved to joke, who just wanted to hear about stupid ninth-grade gossip,” Bayer says. “Because of that, I think they felt comfortable just asking me questions and we could communicate in such a simple way. I said, “Wow, when we laughed at that, we really experienced it. That’s what I have to do as a career. ” «

When Lewis wonders why she is drawn to comedy, she dwells on the dark sections of her life and further desire to get happiness from her work first and foremost. Shannon, on the other hand, writes in her memoirs that the fearless physicality she brought to her iconic SNL character, Mary Catherine Gallagher, a manic Catholic schoolgirl with a tendency to fall on her face and jump at once, directed her own resilience after her family’s tragic past. ‘and.

“We’re all digging deep,” Shannon says. “I am so happy for Vanessa, I am so proud of her, and I am so happy for Jennifer – she is such a good, wonderful person. It’s just emotional. I love when girls just hit – and dig deep, tell their stories and succeed. “

Discussing the trio over the phone, showrunner “I Love That for You” Jesse Klein adds that Bayer, Lewis and Shannon share “a very deep appreciation for life and how weak and fleeting it can be”.

“These women create joy in their work so well,” Klein says. “One of the weird things about the show is the little rope that we walk on from time to time, between topics that can be very dark and in some ways related to cancer, but at the same time we can cause serious laughter from one second to next. I think all their life experience makes them exceptionally capable of doing this kind of magic. ”

Old-fashioned chemistry and mutual admiration also do no harm. Whether Lewis is robbing Bayer of wearing knitted caps and coveralls, or the actresses are sharing stories about meeting each other’s families at the show’s premiere, their recent chat is filled with lots of laughter on their stomachs, a few “wow ”And as the video call concludes, a few tears of joy.

“Listen, laughter is the greatest doctor, and we’re very happy that women laughed at it all,” says Lewis. “We found this deep humor – the soul that says keep going, the soul that says, ‘Yes, I can get out of this.’ There is nothing more than going through the obstacles that are in front of you, where life can take you so suddenly and so quickly, and have the tools to get yourself back. That’s what the three of us did. “


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