Aidy Bryant on the Emmys being the 'cherry on top' of Shrill ending, a 'goofier' SNL season
"I was in L.A., and I live in New York, and so I was on FaceTime with my husband and we were just catching up because I hadn't talked to him the day before," she tells EW. "And I was FaceTiming with him, and then literally got 35 texts in one second. And so I immediately was like, 'Oh my God, something's happened. Something bad happened.' And then I opened it up and I was like, 'Wait, what?'"
It took quite a bit of rummaging through a sea of exclamation points for her to realize "'I think we just got nominated for an Emmy,' and then it happened again when I got the second one [for Saturday Night Live], a whole other round of texts. So I was really playing catch up, but it was really cool."
We chatted with Bryant about how people responded to Shrill's final season, what kind of pressure came with this past season of SNL, and what show she'd guest on to make it a hat-trick of nominations in the comedy categories.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Starting with your Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series nomination for Shrill, what have you seen really resonate with people who've watched the third and final season?
AIDY BRYANT: Yeah. Gosh, it's been a very cool mix. I feel like the things I hear the most about are when Annie reveals her crush in episode four to Nick (Anthony Oberbeck) and he's not feeling it. That's been something that a lot of people have brought up to me, or messaged me about saying like, "Oh, I've been there," or, "This was too real," that kind of thing. And then, a lot of people really loved Will (Cameron Britton), my new love interest at the end of the season. I think the overwhelming thing I've maybe heard the most is how much they love Annie and Fran (Lolly Adefope) in the end, and that they're the ultimate pair, which I agree with.
Has it felt like the audience for the show really grew during the pandemic?
I don't know. I feel like I never have a good sense of that, but I certainly have gotten so many nice messages and actually, even since being nominated, people are like, "I just watched the little series in three days," those kinds of things. So, that's always nice.
What's interesting about the comedy category in particular now is there are so many different types of shows classified as comedy by the TV Academy. Shows that will make you cry a lot will still make it to the comedy categories. With that said, is there a comedic aspect of Shrill you're proud of?
Oh, man. I think I'm really proud of how quickly we can go in and out of it. I feel like you might see a sad moment and then surprise, there's a joke at the end, that kind of thing. I always like when we play with the rhythm like that in the writing. Personally, I love the episode at the ranch, or the college episode; Annie getting to go outside of her regular life and be a little bit of a fish out of water, or trying to play catch up on being cool, or feigning confidence. Those are zones that I think the show does particularly well.
Yeah it's particularly relatable to see how something said will deflate Annie, and then she quickly builds herself back up to say whatever comeback she can muster. Like the scene with Nick you mentioned, where it's like, "Okay, this sucks, and what the hell just happened?" to, "Let me try to suck it up and defend myself."
Yeah. I think that's extremely relatable, where feelings hit you and it brings out something new in you. Or you try and push yourself, but actually "Wait, I should be more chill." Those kinds of moments. Actually when Nick comes into the office in the first episode, Annie's trying to flirt, but also trying to play it cool, but also negging him, but also is so eager, I love moments like that. And I feel like we have a lot of those in the show where it's four different ideas at once performed by one person.
Moving onto Saturday Night Live, which garnered you an Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series nomination, did you all enter this past season feeling pressure like, "This is the most challenging season we've had yet, how can we entertain people even harder?"
Yeah, I know what you mean. In a weird way, it's maybe the opposite where it was so challenging and stressful and kind of depressing at times behind the scenes, that then, in reaction to that, the dumbest, silliest, goofiest sketches or ideas felt like, "Whatever, why not? Let's do it." Even Ted Cruz wearing Cancun braids, the goofier the better. We were just up for it because we were searching for joy.
How does being a double nominee feel? Is it a relief, or an honor, to maybe say "I still got it at SNL, but they're also looking at the work I do outside of it, too?"
Yeah. It seems insane. And I certainly at first I was like, "This is a mistake. No." But it's also really, really nice. And I feel like in a lot of ways, it's very nice to be acknowledged for both sides of who I am, in some way, because they are so different, but they're both really important to me. Both express a part of who I am. So, yeah. It feels really, really nice. And especially because I just worked so closely with so many people at both shows, it feels like a nice acknowledgement of straddling that.
And an especially nice goodbye to Shrill, I imagine.
Yeah. It really does feel like this cherry on top to send it to the big ice cream shop in the sky.
Finally, you already got nominations for lead and supporting, but what comedy would you want to appear on and put your name in the hat for the guest actress category?
Oh my god. This is a really hard question. Wait, I'm thinking for one second [Pause]. I would love to be on I Think You Should Leave. Does that count? It's a sketch show.
Right, A Black Lady Sketch Show has nominees in that category, so I Think You Should Leave would be similarly eligible. And so, you'd want to do a sketch on that?
Yes, I would. That's my dream.
Amazing. I was going to say, my personal hope would be to see you guest star on The Other Two, and work with former SNL head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider again.
Oh, my God, absolutely. A reunion. That could be huge.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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