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'Saturday Night Live''s Secret Weapon

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Tina Fey calls her “an unsung hero of SNL.” Amy Poehler says she’s always “the funniest person in the room.” Now Paula Pell is starring with fellow SNL writer James Anderson on Hudson Valley Ballers, a Web series that’s debuting Dec. 16 on Lorne Michaels’ YouTube channel, Above Average, and polishing her feature script The Nest, which she penned as a starring vehicle for Fey. We caught up with Pell, 50, the Thursday before SNL‘s Dec. 7 episode to see how she filled her very busy day.

6 a.m. Run seven miles in Central Park.

9:45 a.m. Wake from a dream. Where I was running seven miles in Central Park. Very sweaty.

10:30 a.m. Shower, get dressed, eat. I immediately spill ketchup on my new blouse and eat the rest of my breakfast in my bra and slacks. Keeping it sexy.

11:49 a.m. Tweet (@perlapell). “I am directing a Barbie Vaudeville act and using peppermint sticks to pull them off stage.”

Noon Phone therapy. I cry some of my makeup off.

1 p.m. Go to rewrite at SNL. First I coordinated nine of my neighbors and neighbors’ kids going in to see One Direction rehearse. It was these children’s dream in life.

3 p.m. Rewrite my Santa sketch. I got a sketch in which Paul Rudd is Santa and he’s lost 150 pounds and is kind of a dick now. During rewrites, it gets funnier and shorter. (That’s what she said.)

4 p.m. Quick break. I talk to the cinematographer about the Web series James and I just shot in the Hudson Valley, where I live. I am partially topless on my John Deere mower in it. It’s a draw.

5 p.m. Talk to EW. I reflect on how boring I can be.

6 p.m. Back into rewrite. I talk to props about getting a NordicTrack for Paul to walk on in the “skinny Santa” sketch.

8 p.m. Continue to rewrite last few sketches while watching The Sound of Music Live! on NBC. I stand in front of the TV à la Rocky Horror and sing along with “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” (I played Mother Abbess in eighth grade.)

9 p.m. Watch new cuts of Hudson Valley Ballers. So happy with them. I make plans to record music tomorrow.

10 p.m. Finish rewriting Santa sketch while in bed.

11:55 p.m. Tweet holiday observation. “I want to see a dinosaur lift its leg on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.”

12:47 a.m. Final tweet before bedtime. “I just tucked myself in and then finished chewing a squirreled blue cheese olive. Good night sweet world. You are a carousel of delights.”


An Endorsement from Tina

“Anything you liked from the late ’90s/early 2000s on SNL was probably Paula. She was the Spartan cheerleaders, she was Bobbi and Marty the music teachers — she’s just an endlessly funny joke machine. If I were in charge of Twitter and I gave out Twitter licenses, she’s one of the few people I would permit to have one.”

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