‘It was difficult. ‘SNL’ was still a boys club when I was there’
Actress Abby Elliott felt like the odd one out at her first comedy job.
The 30-year-old star of Bravo’s “Odd Mom Out” was just 21 when she landed a coveted spot on “SNL” in 2008 alongside veteran comics like Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis, but she felt pressure to prove herself because of her age.
“I didn’t have 10 years of experience under my belt when I went on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ There were a lot of more seasoned actors I think that we’re kind of like ‘who do you think you are?'” she told Moneyish in an interview. “I tried not to pay attention to it, but it was difficult because you’re always seeking approval from your peers. I ran into that ageism.”
Elliott cut her teeth on sketch comedy during her four-year stint on “SNL” where she became known for her impersonations of pop culture icons like Angelina Jolie and Drew Barrymore. Despite some of her mega successful female predecessors like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Elliott says she still felt like she was working in male dominated territory.
“It was really difficult. “SNL” was still a boys club when I was there. At least it felt like it. I feel it in a lot of comedy experiences that I do, but you just kind of have to own it and and allow yourself to thrive and still be successful and not pay any attention to it,” she says, adding that generating her own material was crucial to her growth. “You have to figure out your voice, and make your stamp.”
Getting ahead in her comedy career didn’t mean saying yes to every part that came her way. Elliott says it’s important to be choosy with any job opportunity.
“I feel like you have to say no to things to get the things you do want. I would say, ‘Oh, I like this [role], but it requires nudity that I’m uncomfortable with,’ or ‘this is too broad for me right now.’ You have to really be selective. I’ll get things where I think they’re looking for someone younger or older. Is this worth my time?’”
After leaving “SNL” in 2012, Elliott went on to appear in TV sitcoms like “Two Broke Girls” and “How I Met Your Mother,” along with “Inside Amy Schumer.” In 2015, she landed a starring role on Bravo’s hit series “Odd Mom Out” — Jill Kargman’s comedy about wealthy and status-obsessed Upper East Side mothers — as Brooke Von Weber, a neurotic, control-freak momzilla who bullies the other parents. It’s a role, she says, she can’t relate to at all.
“I don’t like confrontation,” she admits. “I just want to hide in a corner when people start something. I would say I try to defend myself, but sometimes I just let it go. Sometimes it’s not worth it with those types.”
Elliott stars alongside her father, fellow comedian Chris Elliott, also a former “SNL” alum,” in the upcoming movie “Clara’s Ghost,” based on a fictional family that’s written and directed by her sister Bridey Elliott. Working with a funny family was challenging for Elliott, who says she couldn’t keep a straight face on set.
“It’s really hard not to crack up. He [Chris Elliott] was doing bits he does when he’s not on camera. We ruined so many takes with that. He’s amazing and a comedy genius,” she says.
Adulting is rough, and life can get messy, Elliott, who says she’s gone through a quarter-life crisis, admitted, while promoting her new ad campaign for Swiffer in New York City.
“As you get older, and you’re in your late 20s early 30s, you start to question the path that you’re on because things start to move a little quicker than previously, for me at least. I got married and now I have a house and a dog and that seemed to all happen within the course of a couple of years. All of the sudden I have all these responsibilities and it’s stressful and can be overwhelming,” she says.
Luckily her dad has given her plenty advice on work-life balance that she’s passed along to her sister.
“My dad has told me you don’t have to do this. If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth it. That’s advice I would pass on,” she says. “If you’re not having fun, if you’re working with terrible people get out of there. Don’t waste your time. Life’s too short.”
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