Kristen Schaal holds her deadpan own against comedy hipsters from Jon Stewart to Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement. She’s also — gasp — a self-described “feminist with a sense of humor,” a creature we’re pleased to say seems to suddenly be multiplying in the mainstream. Schaal’s continuing her assault on pop culture with a Sirius XM Radio show, “High Five” (which premiered June 10 and will run for three more Wednesdays at 5 p.m. ET on Raw Dog Comedy, SIRIUS channel104 and XM channel 150). But that’s just the beginning — she’s also working on a romance book and a British sitcom (Penelope Princess of Pets, embedded below) while continuing to cook up bits as the “senior women’s issues correspondent” for The Daily Show. Here, she and her writing partner/radio cohost Kurt Braunohler (South Park, Human Giant) talk about bombing at stand-up, being too weird for U.S. networks, and making sex funny. (The Q&A, after the video and jump.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is it better working together, like you do on the air, or apart, like when you do your own stand-up?
Kurt Braunohler: It’s just so much more fun to be able to improvise with each other.But we had [a corporate stand-up gig] where we were doing it together, and it was awful.
Kristen Schaal: Now this bit killed. We won awards with this bit. It’s our golden bit. We were like, “We’ll do this bit because it works.”
Kurt: It’s eight minutes long and there’s been no laughter, whenlike halfway through this woman in the front row goes, “Oh my god, thisis REALLY AWFUL.”
Kristen: Other than that it was just 20 corporate douchebagsstaring at us and not laughing. It’s very graphic. It was one of thosethings where no one wanted to be the only one laughing.
Kurt: The bit’s about phone sex between Pocahontas and JohnSmith. We should’ve just stopped and talked to them and done somethingelse. Instead, we just plowed through it and took our money and left.
What’s the story with this “romantic” book you’re writing, Kristen?
Kristen: It’s a hodgepodge of erotic short stories and a manual. I’m writing it with my boyfriend.
So is it supposed to be funny, or is it serious?
Kristen: Oh my god, it’s all funny. It’s a funny book. When we sent it into publishers, the reaction was, “We’re blushing and laughing,” so that’s our goal. It’s called The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex. It’s due in the fall and it’ll come out the following fall.
And you made a sitcom pilot recently in England, too?
Kristen: It’s so f—ing weird. We just got back a week ago from shooting it for channel 4 in the U.K.
Kurt: It’s basically a for-broadcast pilot called Penelope Princess of Pets.
Kristen: I play Penelope and Kurt plays Kurt, her friend. There’s a talking bird, and she has to assassinate a member of parliament because the animals told her to do it. Her power is that she can talk to animals. It’s like an action-adventure comedy. It’s not like anything you’ve seen on television. That was one of the things that our producer over in London said: He felt that one of the things it had going for it was that it’s female-led, which they have none of in the U.K. right now. It will air in October. Whether or not we will be allowed to make more is up to them. I can tell you we don’t get much money to make a pilot there, but we didn’t get any to make a pilot here. They wouldn’t even hear it.
Kurt: They’d be like, no, how about something a little less weird? Even stuff that was less weird was still too weird. We pitched a show about a female robot: This scientist creates this perfect female robot who happens to be taken by the Australian government and used as a weapon. He programmed her to be in love with him, so she comes back and he has to keep her from blowing up.
Kristen: We’re going to try to make more here. I’d like to work with NBC; I like that rainbow bird.
Kurt: But we are not ruling any network out.
Kristen: Let’s put the Oxygen network on the map. There are a lot of networks that could use a splash of us. We’re doing radio shows for free for f—‘s sake.
What do you think, PopWatchers? How much do you love Kristen Schaal? Could Penelope Princess of Pets make it here in the U.S.?