A master of the above-it-all annoyed-teenager look, Aubrey Plaza found a way to take her disgruntled millennial girl routine to primetime in the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation.” It’s a character type the improv-oriented comedian first honed on the Web series “The Jeannie Tate Show,” where she plays the troubled stepdaughter to the show’s titular soccer mom, developing it even further on a trashy MTV-style dating show satire she wrote and directed.
“I am not sick of roles as the angry teenager; I could be one for the rest of my life,” quips Plaza, who explains, “I have a younger sister who I draw a lot of inspiration from.”
Sure enough, Plaza jumped at another droll adolescent role opposite Michael Cera in “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” And though the acting attention is heating up, Plaza still considers herself a student of the form.
She spent the 2004-05 season interning on the set of “Saturday Night Live,” being a wallflower while quietly observing the pros in action. “People on ‘SNL’ remarked how quiet I was and were shocked to learn that I was in comedy,” she reports.
And although she studied improv with the Upright Citizens Brigade, Plaza decided to branch into standup after landing the role of Seth Rogen’s girlfriend in “Funny People.” Director Judd Apatow wanted an actual standup for the part, so Plaza made a point to film herself onstage at a comedy club in Queens.
Plaza’s early material has been dark and rebellious, reminiscent of those grunge comediennes who came before her, such as Janeane Garofalo and Sarah Silverman (in fact, she does a killer impression of the latter’s potty-mouthed persona).
“My sense of humor is a little strange,” Plaza admits. “I have to remind myself that if I think it’s funny, then I shouldn’t worry about others getting it.”
“My purse is so heavy that when I put it on the passenger seat of the car while I am driving, the airbag light goes on because it thinks there’s a person there.”