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Paula Pell cradles Seth Meyers while talking Documentary Now! and new character Nana Teabags

Seth Meyers, Paula Pell
Screenshot: Late Night With Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers told guest Paula Pell that, when the two were writing together on Saturday Night Live, everyone in the writers room knew she’d “be the funniest person on Earth.” And while Pell’s skills behind the camera are well-known to comedy nerds everywhere, the current A.P. Bio scene-stealer has also popped up in memorable roles on shows starring her former SNL colleagues that everyone can’t help but remember. She was Pete’s formidably forbearing wife Paula (who gets off on all the sneakin’ around) on 30 Rock, as well as essaying Ron Swanson’s even more formidable, gun-hoarding, moonshine-swilling mother on Parks And Recreation. Pell’s also got a plum part in Amy Poehler’s upcoming feature directorial debut Wine Country, alongside Poehler and other SNL all-star women Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, and Ana Gasteyer, which Pell claims is loosely based on a real, wine-soaked trip the group took together, and in which, she gleefully tells Meyers, “I might have a scene with a lotta dildas.”

Pell’s riding higher than ever as an actress these days, what with A.P. Bio and her acclaimed turn as the Elaine Stritch-patterned Broadway diva in the recent, Meyers-produced Documentary Now! episode “Original Cast Album: Co-Op.” Pell told Meyers that her hilarious sequence reluctantly belting out the all-too-appropriately titled show-stopper “I Gotta Go” (her harried trouper had an appointment for an eye-scraping) was equally inspired by Stritch’s infamously prickly (but brilliant) rendition of the Sondheim number “Ladies Who Lunch” and her own mom’s long-ago turn in a community theater production playing that same role.

Speaking of mom, Pell shared with old pal Meyers how her family’s ongoing attempts to open up new horizons for her aging mother (the basis for Kate McKinnon’s soap opera-loving Weekend Update character Deenie) saw them all watching an over-55 porno together. (Mom was vociferously not a fan.) And, sticking with the matronly intimacy theme, Pell brought Meyers across the desk to nestle his head on her bosom (“Right in the bike rack,” she counseled), while she tried out her newest character, Nana Tebags. Reading out the J. Peterman-meets-Penthouse Forum copy from a package of green tea, Pell cradled the losing-it (but very comfy-looking) Meyers until, she said, her “10 percent” heterosexuality crept up to around 12.


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About the author

Dennis Perkins

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