Since making her debut in Saturday Night Live’s 2005–6 season, Wiig has brought an eclectic cast of characters to life with a level of comic vérité not seen since Will Ferrell left the show. Indeed, her deft portrayal of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a buttoned-down politician with a wild hint of San Francisco values in her eyes (and a safe word, “Palomino”) ranks with Ferrell’s now classic depiction of George W. Bush as the squint-eyed master of strategery. “It’s a mystery to me what makes people laugh,” Wiig says. “I just try to be as real as possible.”
Can you describe your style of comedy?
No, because I’m always trying to change it. I don’t always just want to do the same thing. I work hard on characters and impressions, but I also like the silly stuff. I don’t think I’ve been doing it long enough to have a specific style.
Do you have a favorite character in terms of the ones you play on Saturday Night Live?
It is fun to play Penelope [the chronic one-upper].
You worked a lot of interesting jobs in Los Angeles before you got the S.N.L. job. You even sold hot dogs. Did you work at Pink’s?
No, it was called the Beverly Hills Hot Dog Company. So it was a little more upscale. It had wood walls and little stools. Yeah, it wasn’t in business for very long. But it was fun. Actually, it wasn’t. It was horrible.
And you sold peaches?
At the Farmers Market. And my favorite job was I worked in a floral-design studio called the Velvet Garden for a little over three years.
Jobs like those expose you to a lot of different people, which is interesting given that so many of your characters, such as the Target Lady, seem pulled from real life.
A lot of them are, actually. A lot of the characters that I do are [based on] someone I’ve seen, or a sound bite from someone walking across the street [that seems] funny to me.
Have you ever heard from Nancy Pelosi?
I have not, no! I don’t know what’s going on with that lady. She’s not calling me!
© 2008 Frank DiGiacomo, VANITY FAIR.