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Molly Shannon (Neighbors From Hell)

Molly Shannon: The Interview (Neighbors From Hell)

Molly Shannon spent six seasons as a member of the repertory company on Saturday Night Live, primarily known for the eclectic characters she created, such as Mary Katherine Gallagher and Sally O'Malley. Molly voices Tina Hellman on the new TBS show, Neighbors From Hell.

Tina is Balthazor's no-nonsense wife. A professional down in Hell, Tina now spends her days as an ordinary house wife, drinking Chardonnay and cruising the internet for celebrity gossip. Tina does not share her husband's enthusiasm for humankind and counts the days until they are back in hell.

SHAKEFIRE:  Good. I have to say we love you on Glee and we’re looking forward to seeing you coming back again soon.
MOLLY SHANNON:  Thank you. That’s so nice. It’s such a great show to be on. Everyone I know is like, “Can we come to the set with you, please,” like my nieces and my friends they all want - they’re like, “Can we,” they want to come by and visit me and on the set. It’s so funny.

SF:  Well what's brought you back to TV? You’ve done a lot of film.
MS:  Yeah, I’ve done a lot. Well, I love TV. I think it’s such a great place for a woman in comedy, you know if you find the right thing. I mean, it’s fun. I’m such a big TV fan. I love watching TV. I love that it’s right in your living room. And I had such a wonderful experience on Saturday Night Live and, you know, so it’s just - I’ve always loved TV. I live movies too, but I like both, you know?

SF:  What do you think of your cartoon likeness of you on ‘Neighbors From Hell’? Tina’s a hottie, right?
MS:  Oh, my God. I know. It was just - before I - well, when I signed up they had already drawn it, so I was like, that's what she looks like. I was like, “Oh, my God.” Yeah, she’s such a little - he said she’s got this like curvy little sexy figure and, you know, it’s so funny. I hope I can do a good job putting my - the body that they’ve created for her, you know?

SF:  What do you find particularly challenging about your role?
MS:  Well, I guess the - it - the hardest part is that I’m used to, you know, live action. I’m a very physical comedian and I’m used to using my body and my face, and so it’s very different just using your voice, you know? It makes you feel like, “Oh, God,” if you have a cold or sinus infection and you feel like, “God, this is it. It’s just you voice.”

So, in that way it’s hard to get used to, but then I also love how free it is because there’s so much that they can - they have so much license to do crazy things. In animation you can have the craziest scenes and draw so many things that would be so much more difficult and more expensive in live action.

So in that way, it’s very vocally freeing. You can do all this crazy stuff that you might not get to do in regular live action, so it’s just - it’s fun. And I like that you can - I can record a whole episode in an hour. It’s just a fun job. I have little kids so the voice over world is great being a mom. It’s a great schedule for a mom.

SF:  Everybody’s had bad neighbors and neighbors from hell.
MS:  Yes.

SF:  Can you tell - maybe you can like, you know, withhold the name of the bad neighbor, but do you have any good bad neighbors from hell stories?
MS:  We did. We had - when I was growing up, when I was a little girl growing up in Cleveland, Ohio we had these two sisters that we called them witchy pooh. And if ever you kicked a ball on their grass they would go, “Get your kids off my lawn.”

And we were like - so we used to raise hell and, you know, purposely kick our ball up on their lawn and pull out their flowers, and we were very mischievous with them because they were so - they were like nasty witches on our block. So we caused a lot more trouble because they were so difficult, but it was kind of fun. We would - yeah, we’d pretend like we had to run away from them, they were going to cast a spell on us, and we had a - quite a lot of fun with those sisters.

SF:  Exactly. What are some of the perks of doing cartoon voice work? Like, do you get to do your work in pajamas and stuff like that, or...
MS:  You do. You can - well, I don’t do it in pajamas, but basically what’s so convenient about it is I can wake up, have a nice leisurely morning with my kids, take them to school, then head right over and do the voice over. And then have time to go back and pick them after because it’s such an easy short gig. You can do a whole episode in one hour because there’s so many characters that I could record my whole part in just one hour.

So - or you know, sometimes it takes longer, but for the most part it’s just really easy that way. There’s no hair and makeup, you know, no - so that really cuts the time out. So, it’s just really - I love it. It’s a great job with being a mom.

SF:  Do you ever get into your characters outside the studio, or not? Like do you ever start to act like they were in the show outside?
MS:  Oh, you mean like the character from Neighbor from Hell?

SF: Yeah.
MS:  No. No. No. No. That has not happened yet, but I’ll let you know if it changes. That’s funny.

SF:  All right. And what was the audition process like for you? Like did you immediately catch on to the Tina character or...
MS:  I did. They offered it to me, and so they just sent me the script and then I think Pam Brady, the writer, wanted to call me. But I thought, “It’s okay. I don’t have to talk to them. Let me just read the script.” And I just really like it. I thought it was really original and funny and I loved the way it read. It was really easy to go through it. It was really clear what it was. So, I just thought it would be so much fun.

So, it was just initially a - just a real good reaction to the writing and the idea.

SF:  I’m lucky. Why do you think people want to take their time to tune in and watch Neighbors from Hell?
MS:  Well, I guess, you know, I just think people love to escape with comedy. It’s fun. I think it’s silly. It’s still about a family even though they are from Hell. And it’s funny writing funny jokes. I just think it’s a good escape for, you know, 30 minutes.

Neighbors from Hell premieres on June 7 at 10:00 pm on TBS.
 

Matt Rodriguez
Interview by Matt Rodriguez
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