Christine Nangle Gives Us The Skinny On Being A Big Fat Deal In The Comedy World
Inside Amy Schumer writer talks comedy, politics, and no-no's for young writers.
Christine Nangle is part of Oxygen’s digital series In Progress 52. In 2016, Oxygen's Very Real digital hub is featuring 52 outstanding young women: that's one woman a week, for 52 weeks. Check out the series here!
Christine Nangle is a five-time Emmy nominated comedy writer whose credits include three years as a staff writer at Saturday Night Live, Kroll Show, Playing House, and, most recently, Inside Amy Schumer, for which she received the prestigious Peabody Award. She is a proud alumna of The Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, which put her in the mix of such fine friends as comedian/actress Abby Elliot, who helped Nangle translate her natural writing talent into her first big time job—a coveted staff writer position at Saturday Night Live. Whew. Currently splitting her time between New York City and Los Angeles, we caught up with the Philadelphia native (see The Nick Kroll Show’s “Pawnsylvania”) to get the skinny on being a big fat deal in the comedy world.
Nangle! Let’s cut to the chase: You’ve been in showbiz for a while now. How often do you Google yourself?
Not very often actually! Sometimes I’ll try to type a letter after my name to see what (if any) words people are googling my name WITH. It’s never anything interesting. I always hope that someday it will be “Christine Nangle boyfriend” or “Christine Nangle hot as balls” or, some fine day, “Christine Nangle feet.”
In your opinion, what is the best sketch you have ever written and why?
Several years ago I wrote like a 15-second bit where a guy is in his office and the phone is ringing and ringing. He finally answers a sandwich as a phone and he says “I told you not to call me on this. This isn’t a phone!” Then he hangs up and that’s literally the whole thing.
A number of the sketch shows you have worked on have political elements. Inside Amy Schumer has been hallowed as the feminist second coming, and SNL is known both for its heavy hitting political parodies and political guests. What is your opinion of comedy in with world of news and politics?
It’s essential. Satire helps us hear ideas personally that we’re not yet ready for politically. In terms of what is happening these days, it’s really exciting. Lots of voices being heard that normally wouldn’t be. A lot less, “please mister man, may I make a joke, if it please you?” and a lot more, “here ya go. Deal with it.”
Is there anything you consider off-limits to comedy?
No (see “Football Town Nights” and “A Very Realistic Video Game”), but the conversation about it is important. It really is hilarious how many comedians act like they are dying on their swords to protect their right to say what they want, and in the process they are forgetting that their critics also can say what THEY want. They can not like your joke. Get over it.
Christine Nangle and Amy Schumer at The Peabody Awards
Are there any no-no’s you wish young writers knew before they set out to make it big?
UGH. There’s a lot of shit you are going to get wrong. That’s fine. There’s a lot of shit you’re going to do fine, but you’re going to be in a f*cked up environment run by scared dudes and they are going try to make you feel like you’re wrong. So, you have to be malleable about what product your boss wants while remembering what you think is good and funny is still good and funny. Whatever your job is, always remember what it’s like to be the new person. Not only will it make you kinder but it will help you look at your environment with fresh eyes. It really shows you who a person is when you watch them forget they were ever new to the game. One thing I HATE is the amount of comedians I know/like who believe so deeply in their right to say what they want, sometimes in the name of reaching people or changing perceptions, yet they absolutely refuse to accept that their mindsets/attitudes/actions are anything less than perfect. I had friends ask me if I thought this one joke was offensive to me (as a woman), and I was like yeah, it is but more than that it feels lazy and it’s such a turn off that it ruins the rest of the bit and you don’t need it. Then they proceeded to argue with me explaining that it’s not offensive. I found myself arguing back but then stopped like “wait, you asked my opinion because you respect it and I told you what I thought. Do what you want.” Honestly I don’t know how some people find time to write comedy when they are busy experiencing all the experiences of all the people. (Can you hear me down there? Sometimes when I’m on my high horse the acoustics are bad.)
You tweet a lot about reproductive rights. How is that funny?
I don’t know. It might not be. The way things are going now, I might end up writing tweets on the wall in some interment camp for uppity ladies.
You know what we can both agree is funny, your webseries, I Wanna Have Your Baby. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Thanks! It’s still one of the things I’m most proud of and would love to resurrect in some way. I did a sketch in like 2006/7 back at UCB, then a few years later we made it into a 6 episode web series with Broadway Video. I wrote it with a guy named Pete Schultz and he also directed it. We had a great cast- Gavin Speillor as Dolores’ assistant was my favorite. It’s a pretty bizarre premise (a surrogate mother for hire who never seems to age) but one thing I love about it is how specific we were about Dolores- she’s kinda dumb but she is always trying to do her best, even though she really lives a dark, bizarre life. And she loves whales for no other reason than I love whales. People thought there was some meaning to that but there wasn’t. Just into whales.
I understand you own a dog. What’s your style of dog-parenting?
Black Hawk Helicopter.
What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud? Or! What is your favorite joke of all time. Answer whichever question feels most relevant to you as a comedian.
This morning I re-watched that video of the dog who is desperately trying to get his owner to hug him. I watch a lot of dog videos. I also watch a lot of nature shows on TV and I almost always laugh out loud at little things the animals do. It’s endearing, ok? Oh god please let it be endearing. One of my favorite lines of all time is, “last night I dreamt I ate a giant marshmallow and when I woke up my pillow was gone.” I remember hearing that as a kid. I still laugh out loud when I really start thinking about that- imagine a person eating her entire pillow in her sleep, with her eyes closed. It’s so f*cking dumb.
Marry/bury/screw: Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift?
EVERYONE IS BEAUTIFUL AND SCREWABLE AND KILLABLE.
If you had a magic genie lamp, but your wishes had to relate to the industry of comedy, what three wishes would you make?
1. Hire me. 2. HIRE me. 3. HIRE ME.
What is the best advice you have ever given or received?
Kindness is the highest form of wisdom. (Not sure who said that originally but my mom sure does like to repeat it.)