Hot List: Jenny Slate

5.15.2014

By Jason Lamphier

Summer’s finest leading lady, messy in the best way possible.

Photography by JUCO. Shot at The Row NYC, Times Square. Fashion editor: Michael Cook. Hair and Makeup: Angela DiCarlo.

“I like drunk women more than I like drunk men,” says Jenny Slate. We dare you not to agree after watching her inebriated tale of the invention of Coca-Cola on Comedy Central’s Drunk History. Or just check out her improvised Funny or Die series, Bestie X Bestie, in which she and gay comedian Gabe Liedman get wasted and smoke cigarettes while answering questions like “Who Seems Horny?” off slips of paper that arrive on a tiny wooden truck.

Slate’s new movie, Obvious Child, finds her playing a woman whose drunken escapades land her in a jam. Slate stars as Donna, a 20-something Brooklyn comic who gets dumped by her boyfriend in a bathroom, loses her job at a bookstore, winds up pregnant after a boozy one-night stand, and decides to have an abortion (on Valentine’s Day). Slate had no qualms about the script’s touchy subject matter. “I just wanted to make sure Donna was lovable,” she says. “I’ve played a lot of characters people have to laugh at, but not necessarily love.”

Since her single-season stint on Saturday Night Live, Slate has carved out a niche channeling delusional airheads and bitchy underminers on series like Girls, Kroll Show, Parks and Recreation, and Hello Ladies. Despite their unfiltered filthiness, her stand-up routines have a vivid, cartoonish whimsy. Perhaps not coincidentally, she’s also famous for Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, the animated short film and picture book she created with her husband, filmmaker Dean Fleischer-Camp.

But Obvious Child is a departure for Slate, not only because it’s her first time carrying a film but because Donna is one of the most original, beguiling big-city heroines to come along in years. A bundle of quick wit, slurring buffoonery, and fumbling insecurity, she’s the type who’ll declare that a comfy pair of Crocs feel like they’re “made out of angels’ titty skins” while facing the most difficult choice of her life. It’s Donna’s “human” quality that sucked Slate in. “I’m interested in playing women who are a part of our world,” she says. In other words, women—drunk and sober—like herself.

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