Jon Hamm interviews Ellie Kemper, imagines her future 'SNL' debut

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Image Credit: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images

When Tina Fey and Amy Poehler took over Entertainment Weekly for this week’s issue, they made sure to slip in a little self-promotion (what did you expect from those broads?). Aside from the duo’s gig hosting the Golden Globes, Fey’s next big project is a fall sitcom starring Ellie Kemper, written and produced with her 30 Rock collaborator Robert Carlock, so Fey wanted to shine a spotlight on the Office alum. She did it in typically fun fashion, asking Jon Hamm — Kemper’s onetime drama teacher — to interview the actress for the issue.

Yup, you read that right: After graduating college, the Mad Men star returned to his St. Louis prep school to teach drama, and one of his ninth-grade students happened to be the future funnywoman. When she moved to Los Angeles, Kemper cold-called her former teacher, by then already a TV star, and he helped her network and came out to see her one-woman comedy show. Things have clearly worked out for the Missourians — they even starred together in 2011′s Bridesmaids — and their familiar rapport throughout the half-hour conversation was delightful.

You can check out this week’s issue for more of their chat, but this tidbit — in which three-time Saturday Night Live host Hamm jokingly plots out Kemper’s Studio 8H debut — was a highlight.

JON HAMM: I had known Tina only in passing at awards shows, and I got a little bit of Amy Poehler on SNL. She was very pregnant the first time I hosted — famously pregnant, in fact — and had the baby on Saturday so had to be pulled out of several sketches.
ELLIE KEMPER: You’ve hosted SNL three times now?

Three times, yes.
I want to talk about that experience. I think that would be incredibly hard.

Well, now, you come from improv, you come from sort of being on stage without a net, and you come from live stuff and you see all that stuff, so what do you think you would find sort of nerve-wracking about it?
That’s, well — now it’s a therapy session, because that’s a good point. What would be? It would be doing what you enjoy doing, so why would it be nerve-racking?

Well, here’s why it’s nerve-racking: You walk into this place, and it’s Studio 8H, and you see 30, 40 years of people — since before you were born and almost before I was born — of people that you’ve looked up to if you have any kind of comedy thing, and you walk in and you realize you’re sort of standing in a place that, number one, not a lot of people get to do; there’s only 20-some-odd shows a year, and a lot of people are repeats, and it’s a pretty unique thing. Number two, it’s not only really live — it’s not live theater, where if you f— up, 80 of your friends and, like, a homeless guy and 14 sorority girls on a bachelorette party are the only ones that see it; this is on live network television, so that part of it is nerve-racking. But you’re gonna be fine when you host.
Yeah, when I host.

I heard that you’re hosting — you and Bruno Mars are co-hosting in two weeks. And Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are both gonna come and do cameos. Tina’s gonna do Sarah Palin again, and Amy will do her character, which is the one-legged farting person. It’s gonna be amazing.
It’s gonna be amazing. I’m in every sketch.

You’re in every sketch, and you’re playing Tina in most sketches, and she’s playing Amy, and Amy’s playing you. It’s gonna be really cool, like really meta and weird.
It’s gonna be really fun. We’re still hoping you can stop by, but I understand you get nervous.

Oh, I’ll be there — in the audience.

amytinain_this_issue To read more of Jon and Ellie’s chat, pick up a copy of Entertainment Weekly, which hits stands on Friday.

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