Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Jenny Slate sends a surrogate to Jimmy Kimmel Live to relate the comic horrors of pandemic childbirth

Jenny Slate, Jimmy Kimmel
Jenny Slate, Jimmy Kimmel
Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live

Jenny Slate has been especially cautious during this godforsaken pandemic year, explaining how she and her fiancee made a last-minute, cross-country dash to her native Massachusetts to quarantine just before COVID hotspot Los Angeles went into lockdown last March. Noting certain similarities to that astronaut with slightly more murderous intentions on her mind, Slate did not in fact admit to Jimmy Kimmel on Wednesday that she and her beloved diapered up for the marathon drive. But then again, she didn’t explicitly not say it, instead only telling Kimmel that that was a seriously intense 3,000 miles. “I absolutely love that story—for the romance,” Slate told Kimmel.

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Still, pandemic isolation can make people do crazy things, as when the responsibly remote-calling Slate (whose animated sitcom The Great North, from Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard premieres on Valentine’s Day) asked Kimmel if there were any way she could, instead, pop by the Jimmy Kimmel Live studios for their chat. Slate actually asked if anyone there could “do her bidding,” to which Kimmel responded by dutifully summoning a blackout-suited minion stagehand to bring out an animated, mid-anecdote cutout of Slate, to be perched in the guest chair. (Still a responsible six feet distant. Be safe, people.) It didn’t quite work—Slate’s frozen talk show fake laugh punctuating a story was genuinely creepy in practice—but, hey, Kimmel’s guests have tried everything from space suits to long, host-prodding sticks to break up the Zoom call monotony, so why not go two-dimensional.

Reverting back to her more mobile self, Slate told Kimmel about the even more terrifying (if, of course, beautiful and natural and so on) experience of giving birth during a pandemic. (Slate sprung the bountifully evident truth of her impending birth on old SNL pal Seth Meyers back in December, and had her baby almost immediately thereafter.) Telling Kimmel that the couple decided to name the baby girl Ida (Ida Lupine, which sounds like a kick-ass werewolf, honestly), Slate confessed that her pregnancy brain did momentarily pluck the Eastern European staple “Bagrat” out of the baby name book, ultimately settling for calling her unborn child that only when blaming it for making her barf. “Hey Bagrat, you made me throw up again!,” is pretty funny when you hear Jenny Slate put the most abusively ugly pronunciation on that no-doubt lovely name.

Calling delivery while masked something of a mixed blessing—a “totally extreme experience” on one hand, but at least her beloved didn’t have to see the faces she made—Slate explained that the added pandemic pressure only removed “any filter” that she had left. The former Mona Lisa Saperstein and Missy Foreman-Greenwald impersonated her endorphin and agony-drunk delivery room self laughing maniacally while demanding to know how much damage her little miracle had just done on her way out. “Did-did-did my vagina rip in half?!,” Slate acted out the experience in wild-eyed, Joker-laughing panic. (No word officially, but Slate seemed much more serene now, so thumbs up.) She also, noting The Great North’s V-Day kickoff, told a quick story about her own worst Valentine’s Day present—a boyfriend’s used digital camera, presented stuffed into a sock. Slate wasn’t naming names on that one, but, if you’re out there, person who let Jenny Slate get away, that is not how it’s done, son. 

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.