…And we, um, read:
Interview with Kay Cannon, the Hilarious Writer Behind “New Girl” & “Pitch Perfect”
by Anne McCarthy
You may have never heard Kay Cannon‘s name, but you’ve definitely laughed at her jokes. An alum of Chicago comedy group The Second City, Cannon landed a job as a writer and co-producer on 30 Rock. Tina Fey wrote of Cannon in Bossypants: “Her success at the show is a testament to why all parents should make their daughters pursue team sports instead of pageants.”
These days, Cannon she is currently a writer and co-executive producer on the television series New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel and is the writer of hit 2012 comedy Pitch Perfect and its just-announced sequel.
Cannon took time from her busy schedule of nursing, writing and being hilarious to answer a few questions for us.
ANNE MCCARTHY: You are a wife, a new mom, and an Emmy-nominated writer on a hit TV show. What do you say to people who ask, “How do you do it all?!” and how annoying is that question?
KAY CANNON: Not an annoying question one bit. My answer is this: I don’t do it all. Not even close. I work on a show with a kickass writing staff, I have a kickass partner of a husband who is there for me at all times both personally and professionally and, I don’t mean get too braggy here… but I have a kickass baby, too. She pitches jokes and shits at the same time—a real multi-tasker, that one.
At the end of the day, no one ever does anything all by themselves. I never quote anybody, but I do agree with something that legendary women’s college basketball coach Pat Summitt once said which is, “Make sure you shave that before the game.” Wait—no, not that quote. I’m certain she’s said that more than once. It’s, “You win in life with people.” I love that quote and couldn’t agree more.
You are an alumna of Second City. How did your time there shape you as a writer and as a human being?
Second City was the first job I ever had where I was made to write. I was so scared— and not very good at it. Even if I came up with some decent ideas, the thought of sitting down at a computer and writing a draft of something that others would read was very intimidating to me. Especially since I considered myself mostly as a performer. I can remember telling a fellow Second City cast mate that I could probably put together a decent writing submission for SNL if I worked really hard on it. But then if they liked it and hired me, I would have to be a writer! I couldn’t think of anything worse!
The Second City was a job where you had to write or you wouldn’t get paid. Luckily, it was a wonderful education in how to use my improvising skills and techniques to help my writing and vice versa. As far as what Second City did for me as a person? Well it’s a great place to make connections with other people that last a lifetime. Some of, if not most of, my dearest friends I met at The Second City. It’s a wonderful community.
What are your favorite kind of characters to write?
I guess goofball characters. It’s really fun to write lines for 30 Rock’s Tracy Jordan or New Girl’s Schmidt. When a character can get away with saying almost anything, it opens the door to some good times.
Your film Pitch Perfect was a huge hit and a fan favorite. How did that project come about?