New comedy ‘American Auto’ takes American business in a unique way
Ana Gasteyer doesn’t really like driving, so it only makes sense that she would star in a sit-com about cars.
New Serie american automobile talks about the quirky executives and employees of a large Detroit auto company as they try to adapt to a rapidly changing industry.
Gasteyer plays Katherine Hastings, the new CEO of an automotive company whose bold leadership and business acumen are only slightly outweighed by her complete lack of knowledge about cars. To keep the business afloat, she must lead a crew of diverse characters and opinions in a bold new direction.
She explains her reluctance to drive with a story by saying, “My character can’t drive. I drive, but I live in NYC, so I don’t do that a lot, and my family don’t like it when I do. I learned to ride a bike and [then] I forgot how to ride a bike and my husband didn’t believe me [about that] and I took one, and immediately ran into a mailbox and hurt myself badly. So I’m not very comfortable with things on wheels, that’s what I’m trying to say.
When the time came to learn to drive, she said, “My mom taught me to drive. I grew up on Capitol Hill in DC, and she taught me about rush hour traffic, with a clutch car, uphill. So, maybe that’s why I don’t like to drive.
Gasteyer says that while she’s been very successful in her career, she likes to keep doing new things, explaining, “Obviously, Saturday Night Live is an insane launching pad. the visibility is just crazy. I mean, you get recognized pretty quickly just to be in this cast. And I worked on Broadway; I worked on television; I’ve worked, you know, wherever I can work. And I love to work, so I kept my nose on the grindstone, if you will.
Aside from her driving problems, she says she was drawn to this project because, “I’ve waited my entire career to be in my 50s. I’ve been waiting for this role since I was 30 years old. And frankly, 10 years ago that role wouldn’t have existed, I don’t think so. I think the mere opportunity to play a female CEO was really exciting for me because I love characters who are sort of lost in a moral dilemma, and Katherine definitely is. She definitely personifies the company’s aspirations to do well, but maybe not always. It’s a funny gray area, comically.
Things didn’t go right right away for Gasteyer when she stepped into the role. “I flew to LA, and I had my fitting for the pilot, and we were getting ready to film it when the whole world stopped.”
But, the delay turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise admits Gasteyer, “We ended up doing the pilot last October – 2020 – then we picked up and started filming in 2021. So that was a long time. , kind of, long thing, but pretty cool, in a way, because, as a distro and community, we’ve been doing this thing where we’ve established a relationship through text, and over months and time on the set we were really friends, which was fantastic.
Series creator Justin Spitzer, who also directed Hypermarket for six seasons, explained the genesis of the show, saying, “I presented this show in 2013. I was on Office for a long time, and thought I would like to do a workplace show about the corporate world. And in Office, they refer to decisions made by companies, occasionally, and I was like, like, oh, what is this show about and how are those decisions made? The people in the company are not bad people; They are good people who do their best to try to make the business run and sometimes their decisions have bad effects on the employees, but I thought it would be fun to see why those decisions are made. The fact that it was the auto industry came later. I just wanted it to be a big, multi-billion dollar American industry.
Spitzer, says his cast, which in addition to Gasteyer includes Jon Barinholtz, Harriet Dyer, Humphrey Ker, X Mayo, Michael B. Washington and Tye White, are welcome to pump up the comedy via improvisation. “We always like to think of script jokes as a safety net. It won’t be any worse than that line, and as far as the actors can improve it, I always want to cheer it on.
He adds: “It was very important to me, even during the casting. I worked with Jon on Hypermarket; I worked with Humphrey years ago on another pilot [so] I knew they were incredible improvisers. Obviously Ana was too, from her years SNL, and other things. So, I love when the actors beat the jokes that are on the page; to make it the best joke.
Gasteyer points out that the concept that in a workplace comedy, the cast of the character set and the workplace being the star was part of the draw for her. ‘[I like] not having to carry so much stuff on my own. I like to work with other people. Many of us come from improvisation and ensemble backgrounds, so it is essential that you work as a team. This is actually what ends up being the most fun.
Another factor that is important for Spitzer, he says, is having diverse characters because “it allows you to make more types of stories, especially on a show like this, which deals with problems.”
Washington, who is black, said that his character traits were very important to him in this regard, explaining, “I was drawn to the fact that Cyrus is a very intelligent and educated business executive who has the Right to be the smartest in the room, for better or for worse, whether or not he puts his foot in his mouth, and all the comedy that goes with it. Representing this so that young black boys, young black girls can see someone in a smart suit is still not the norm.
He goes on to point out that “Play with these amazing comedians and keep it light on it. It’s not always impactful; it’s light and fun, [showing that] diversity can be a fun thing too.
While Gasteyer has his conduct issues, Barinholtz has a bit more of a historical connection to american automobile as he explains, “My grandpa was one of the first used car salesmen in Chicago, because used cars are, like, a newer thing. And then my great-great-great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side was Studebaker. That’s right: there are four Studebaker brothers, and Jacob was the one I’m descended from, and he was the one who thought the cars weren’t going to take off, and he was like, “I’m going to stick with it. agriculture. “
To which Gasteyer replied: “It was the slowest Studebaker; it’s what you say ? You are a descendant of the slower Studebaker. Understood.”
‘American Auto,’ airs Tuesdays at 8-7 a.m. on NBC starting January 4.