Paula Pell Regrets Playing Mom to ‘Saturday Night Live’ Cast

‘I was like Nana SNL’
Paula Pell Regrets Playing Mom to ‘Saturday Night Live’ Cast

During Girls5Eva star Paula Pell’s long run as a Saturday Night Live writer, she got some serious facetime with the biggest comedy stars of her generation, including Will FerrellMolly Shannon and Tina Fey. “So many of those years were glorious,” she told Marc Maron on his WTF podcast. But if Pell had a time machine, there are some things she would change about her role in the lives of her castmates.  

“At SNL, I was mom. I was the teat. I was a big caretaker there,” she confessed. “I made that my role, even if they didn’t want it. I was the comforter. And you need a lot of comfort when you’re at SNL because you're either failing miserably or you’re the absolute shit, the talk of the most incredible thing of the night.” 

For every win on SNL, dozens of sketches are thrown away during the week, devastating writers and comics alike. “And I would just put all my devastation away because maybe my sketch got cut. I would just put all of that away. It would all be about me comforting them. And then I would go home and eat like three pizzas and put a cork in my sadness.”

Pell also reminisced about how she got a writing job at Saturday Night Live, a seeming fluke for someone who didn’t consider herself a writer. “I walked into SNL and had that meeting, (and) I was like, ‘What is this for?’ because all I had done is acting.” 

SNL producers had been impressed with a sketch comedy pilot in which Pell had written sketches and performed crazy characters. All well and good, but “I’m like, ‘Yeah, but I’m not a writer.’ I really thought it was some completely other skillset. Plus, anything I knew of SNL, it was Harvard guys. I thought they were going to be like, ‘Whose aunt came in and wandered into the writers’ room?’” 

She got the job and lasted for two decades, but at some point, it became clear it was time for Pell to move on. “I became too much of the mama,” she says. “And I just remember this new era of people coming in that were way younger than me. I just didn’t have it in me to care about making them stars. And they were wonderful people. But I was so fucking exhausted from doing this show. I made friends with all the younger people but I felt old. I was like Nana SNL.” 

After moving on to work with Judd Apatow and others,  Pell learned she didn’t need to take care of everyone in her creative sphere. “I don’t have it in me to just be that role (anymore),” she says. “I want to comfort myself.” 


Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?