In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.
After spending five years on Saturday Night Live, Nasim Pedrad recently shifted coasts and moved to an earlier time slot, becoming a cast member on Fox’s new Mulaney. There, she plays Jane, one of John Mulaney’s roommates who’s wacky, but not near as bananas as anyone Pedrad played on SNL, including Kim Kardashian. Pedrad also frequently pops up as a voice in cartoons, including TripTank, The Awesomes, and Despicable Me 2.
1. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Nasim Pedrad: I was an “entertainer” at children’s parties dressed as Dora The Explorer. It was a fucking mess.
The A.V. Club: Did you wear a head or was it just your regular face?
NP: Nope. Just me in a janky wig and a Goodwill-bought version of Dora’s outfit. I had to pump gas in the costume once, and that was truly my lowest low.
AVC: Why was it such a nightmare?
NP: The costume alone was so sad. I came face to face with so many disappointed 7-year-olds in Southern California who were like, “This is what I get for my birthday?”
2. What did your parents want you to be?
AVC: That’s good. Are they proud of you now?
NP: They are. I guess it worked out. If they did want me to be a doctor or a lawyer, it was kept a secret. I never knew about it. But as far as what they communicated to us, they just wanted us to be happy. I’m sure a tiny part of them must have died on the inside when I told them I wanted to pursue comedy after everything they went through to immigrate into this country. Alas, they never shared that with us.
3. Who would be your pop culture best friend?
NP: Dot from The Animaniacs.
AVC: Good one! Why?
NP: I just loved that show and I wanted to know her.
AVC: Why Dot more than Yakko and Wakko?
NP: I was younger at the time and I related to her more because she was a girl. Much like her, all my friends were weird dudes. I felt like we shared that.
4. What game show would you be good at?
NP: I don’t have a specific answer, but one that was luck-based and had nothing to do with information as I have the worst memory known to man. If I were being honest, that would be my answer.
AVC: Kind of like Wheel Of Fortune?
NP: Exactly. Nothing that relied on memory.
5. How would your enemies describe you?
NP: “Nasim who?”
6. If a deli named a sandwich after you, what would be on it?
NP: Kebab with cucumber yogurt.
AVC: On a pita?
NP: Yeah! I’m literally salivating right now. I want to eat that so bad.
AVC: What kind of kebab?
NP: Just a ground beef kebab. That sounds gross, but that’s what I mean, versus shish kabob. Shish kabob is good, too.
AVC: The big meatball ones.
NP: Koobideh is what it’s called.
7. What was your first, big, grown-up purchase?
NP: I got a used, upright piano when I got cast on SNL.
AVC: Why a piano?
NP: I played piano as a child, and then we had to sell our piano at one point. I knew that was the first big thing I was going to buy when I got a job. So when I got cast on SNL, I bought one and now I’m taking lessons again.
AVC: Did you put it in your apartment in New York?
AVC: I’m sure all your neighbors loved that.
NP: Well, I was barely home, so I barely played it.
AVC: Do you still have the same one?
NP: Same one. I moved it to L.A.
AVC: You’ve been moving it? Is that a big deal?
NP: I moved everything cross-country over the summer when I came to L.A. I didn’t lift it myself, though. I’m sure the movers were like, “Fuck, a piano.”
8. What’s your go-to karaoke song?
NP: That’s so hard. And I have to pick one? Maybe “Basket Case” by Green Day? I don’t know, what’s better, that or “Santeria” by Sublime? “Don’t Look Back In Anger” by Oasis? You pick one. Maybe “Basket Case”?
AVC: Those are all good. You clearly have an era that you like to pull from.
NP: Let’s go with “Basket Case” by Green Day. I use karaoke as an opportunity to get real nostalgic. I listened to a lot of that Dookie album during very formative years in my life.
9. What’s the worst living situation you’ve ever had?
NP: Right after college, I shared a room with a boyfriend in an apartment full of his friends. I think one of them slept on a mattress inside the hallway closet, no joke.
AVC: Where was that?
NP: West L.A.
AVC: Did you guys survive it? Were you still dating when you moved out?
NP: We sure weren’t. No.
It was quite the sausage fest. Just dudes everywhere, no hardwood floors: my complete nightmare.
AVC: Disgusting kitchen, disgusting bathroom, I’m sure.
NP: A bathroom I had to share. I was like, “I love you, but this is testing me too greatly.”
10. Who could you take in a fight?
NP: I mean, look at me. Who am I going to fight? I wouldn’t want to take anyone in a fight, but who would I be physically capable of taking? A very distracted, small child.
11. Do you have anybody’s autograph? And if not, whose would you want?
NP: Yes. I have Lucille Ball’s. It’s a copy of her signature printed on a mug I bought from Universal Studios. As an 11-year-old, that fully counted.
AVC: You were probably so excited, and your parents probably didn’t have the heart to tell you.
NP: Yeah, and they were like, “We did it! We gave you the greatest thing in the world that nobody else has: a copy of her signature printed on a mug I bought.” And I was like, “This counts.”
Bonus question from Leighton Meester: What’s your favorite cuss word, and do you remember the first time you cussed?
NP: Oh my gosh. My favorite cuss word? We’re, like, inside the actor’s studio right now.
Well, it would be used as a noun, but “Fuckrag.” Like, “So-and-so is a real fuckrag today,” or “so-and-so is being a real fuckrag.”
AVC: Do you remember the first time you cussed?
NP: I don’t think I remember, but I’m sure it was as a prepubescent. I’m trying to think. It probably had to do with singing along to Rick Ross as a teen, maybe like his song “Every Day I’m Hustlin’.” Maybe Too Short. One of those.
AVC: You get to ask a question to the next person, but you don’t know who that is. What’s your question?
NP: Okay. Let me think about this.
AVC: It’s a big one.
NP: It is a big one! I want to tell you all the things coming to my mind. What about, “If you got stuck in an elevator with Gwyneth Paltrow, what would happen?”
AVC: That’s a good one.
NP: Does that seem mean, like I’m trying to make a comment on her?
AVC: No. Derek Waters from Drunk History asked, “In your opinion, what happened to Eddie Murphy?” Jenny Slate asked, “Who seems like the most responsible celebrity?” You’re not making a statement on Gwyneth.
NP: Should it be someone more random than her? Okay, wait.
If you got stuck on an elevator with Mark-Paul Gosselaar, do you think Saved By The Bell would come up?
AVC: Do you think it would if you did?
NP: For a few hours? Yeah. [Laughs.] How could it not?
AVC: Would you bring it up?
NP: Yes. If it was, like five minutes, that would be one thing. If I was on an elevator with him for, like four hours, what else would we talk about?
AVC: Franklin & Bash.
NP: [Laughs] I’d have very little to say about that.