Fort Worth — Think of the great impressionists of all-time. I’ll give you a minute.
Time’s up. Who did you come up with? Dana Carvey? Frank Caliendo? Jim Breuer, perhaps? Will Ferrell, maybe?
If you didn't have any women on your list, Melissa Villaseñor is here to change all that.
She has the chops, that’s for sure (see video above). But unlike other SNL newbies, she also has a you-may-already-know her pedigree, from America’s Got Talent to Frank TV, run by Caliendo himself.
She’s in town, too, playing all week in the comedy series at Amphibian Stage Productions in Fort Worth. The series encourages comedians develop and try out new material. Here’s what she had to say to TheaterJones.
TheaterJones: You've been on more than 40 episodes of SNL. What do you know about it now that you would you have liked to have told the just-starting-SNL Melissa?
Melissa Villaseñor: To meditate more and trust my instincts.
You posted this video of your favorite impressions about a year and a half ago. You emphasized that these people make you happy or inspire you. If you were reshooting today, would you have anyone new to add (in that they make you happy AND you enjoy doing impressions of them)?
Yes. Steve Buscemi and Diane Keaton.
You are celebrated as the first Latina SNL cast member. Is it an easy crown to wear? Do people have expectations for you to be an ambassador of sorts? How do you handle that?
Nah. I do what brings me joy. That's it. My goal is to make myself laugh and if folks are on board, oh hell yeah.
Being on SNL means needing to develop new impressions. Which ones have been the most difficult or have taken the most practice?
I feel I learn the ones I focus on quite well! But I think having more time I could have perfected the Golden Girls queen Estelle Getty.
You talk about being shy as a kid in this interview. Would you still characterize yourself as shy? Are you more comfortable on stage than at after-parties?
I am an introvert who needs solo time to be creative and quiet to find my peace. I will say though, I am better at socializing and being assertive these days. It's a big thanks to New York for teaching me to be close to people, help people, and especially at SNL, teamwork is a big lesson which I didn't have much of before.