As Kimmy Schmidt, Ellie Kemper plays a paragon of optimism, a woman who fights back against the tragedy and darkness of her life by greeting every day with a smile. Conan O’Brien, too, is known for his upbeat demeanor. As they explained on Tuesday’s Conan, the unfortunate consequence of this is that any time they don’t smile, people take it to mean they must be dead serious or deeply mad.
“When I’m not smiling, people think I’m furious,” Kemper said.
O’Brien has a similar problem, especially when caught off guard in public.
“People are used to seeing me like, ‘Hey, everybody! Ba da da.’ And then when I just walk around and I’m neutral, it looks like I’m constipated and sad,” O’Brien said. “This is me driving on the 405 home at night. I have clear windows. People will pull up, and they see me like, ‘Hey, I think that’s Conan O’Brien,’ and I go like this, and then I pull away. People are probably like, ‘I saw him! He’s real! There’s something wrong with him.'”
Kemper is especially worried because she thinks all her smiles are giving her wrinkles. As Kemper has learned from her dad, refraining from showing emotion has its benefits.
“My father is somewhat inscrutable. He does not make a lot of expressions. He is in his 60s, not a line on his face,” Kemper said. “I think it pays off, from a lifetime of not expressing anything.”
“That’s the Rob Lowe secret,” O’Brien quipped. “Never enjoyed a moment of his life. Perfect skin.”
Watch the clip below.