Some innovators are trying to come up with a device that will change the world. Others hope to solve a global social ill. Sara Sherman is eager to bring the fake vomit of “Saturday Night Live” into the modern era.
The comic has gained notoriety on NBC’s long-running late-night series for its bizarre humor that combines crude jokes with a taste for the absurd. He has been working with colleagues for months on new technology that would make the act of pretending to vomit on stage much easier and more comfortable. During years, “SNLCast members have relied on a tube placed along their arm and usually inside the sleeve of a jacket that spews out a vomit-like or blood-like liquid. At just the right moment, the actor brings his arm close to his mouth and the “vomit platform” does the rest. Dan Aykroyd wore that outfit in 1978 when he played Julia Child, who cut her hand, and Jay Mohr did much the same in 1994 while playing a nauseous rookie cop.
Sherman and her colleagues have new ideas in 2023. “It’s an advanced vomiting platform that’s hands-free, kind of like the Bluetooth style,” says the comedian, now in her third season. She and her co-star Mikey Day wrote a sketch that would make use of it, but it was cut after a dress rehearsal. “Just know that we have some of the brightest minds in special effects working around the clock to develop live gags,” she says. “I’m trying every day to do great things.”
Below, Sherman discusses how he brings his signature humor to “SNL” and reveals behind-the-scenes details on signature sketches.
Variety: Where does your sense of humor come from?
Sara Sherman: I just like outrageous things. I come from a loud, Jewish and scandalous family. I grew up loving, you know, crazy cartoons, and I love Joan Rivers and “The Nanny” and Garbage Pail Kids and “Ren & Stimpy” and stuff like that. I grew up liking crazy stuff and then I started doing comedy in Chicago, in more of a performing arts community. I learned from all these crazy performance artists around me how to combine visual art and performance style.
Variety: One of the skits you’re best known for on “SNL” is one where you’re covered in strange talking meatballs. What did doing that entail?
Sara Sherman: Dan Bulla, who I write with regularly on the show, saw my stuff outside of the show and said, “I have an idea for you. What if you’re a girl covered in singing meatballs? “No problem! Absolutely!” Some people said, “That sketch is so yours,” and I said, “That’s the magic of the show.” It wasn’t actually my idea!”… It was a mix of special effects and physical puppets. The meatball heads were cast members who put their heads inside a meatball puppet made by Monkey Boys Prods., who make all the puppets for the show. It had real puppet arms and legs, and then the visual effects team worked around the clock mixing physical puppets with special effects and putting little shadows under the meatballs’ arms and legs.
Variety: Looks like you’re having a lot of fun pushing Colin Jost on Weekend Update. How does it work?
Sara Sherman: Oh my god, the only reason I can do that is because we’re friends and he can handle it. He is a great support. The show is amazing, of course, but it’s hard to find something that works. Your first season can be a challenge. So when I said, “Hey, do you mind if I go on Weekend Update and emotionally terrorize you?” he said, “Yeah, no problem.” Who could ask for better support than that?
Things you didn’t know about Sarah Sherman:
Native city: Great Neck, New York –
Favorite “SNL” sketch: “Massive Head Wound Harry,” a 1991 film starring Dana Carvey as a party girl with a terrible head injury. –
Comics that make her laugh: Tim Robinson, Eric André, Tim Heidecker. “These guys are masters at being monsters.”
A fan of Fran Drescher? Sherman recently did an “SNL” impression of the SAG-AFTRA president. “I saw her post about it on Instagram, which I thought was a chef’s kiss – Fran’s seal of approval.”
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