‘A League of Their Own’ Star Kate Berlant Talks Comedy Series and Acclaimed Stage Show
How did Kate Bernlant get on Prime Video’s A League of Their Own Series? “It happened [the way] essentially all I’m involved comes about, which was that somebody knows me well and likes my shtick,” she said over Zoom.
It turns out that a lot of people like what Berlant cheekily calls her shtick. She has released Would it Kill You to Laugh? in the past five months. , a Peacock special with her frequent collaborator John Early, and a Hulu stand-up special, Cinnamon in the Wind, directed by Bo Burnham, and starred in a solo stage show, KATE, also directed by Burnham, in New York. She also appeared in Olivia Wilde’s feature Don’t Worry Darling – “I’m, like, somehow involved in this big splashy Hollywood film” — and is, as previously stated, a regular on A League of Their Own ,, playing Shirley, a neurotic Rockford Peach who avoids canned foods. Berlant said that her many projects were a thrill.
The actress and comedian, who has been a fan of Penny Marshall’s film about World War II-era all female baseball league, was attracted to the new A League of Their Own primarily because of the source material and a desire to work closely with Abbi Jacobson, co-creator. Berlant was able to exercise new muscles thanks to Shirley’s strictness. She did not have to go through the baseball training camp, but she was able to exercise her physical muscles. She is “pretty happy” with her swing at the moment. She explains that she has not been seen in that comedy energy, but it feels very close to her. “I share a lot with her attributes, but they are just less horrifyingly calcified than hers.” Shirley, who wears her hair in tight braided pigtails and has a collection humidifiers, dresses herself with a formality that is a product of the time she lives. Berlant says that it’s not modern anxiety. “We live in a world where everyone talks about their anxiety and feelings, so it was fascinating to imagine what that might have been like .”
Berlant was encouraged to improvise by the League of Their Own Team. It’s a medium that Berlant thrives in — when she does stand up, it’s mostly improvisational. She says, “I love being given scripts, but I also love improvising because it’s the way I reach a character and a method that I like telling jokes.”
Despite this, the project that is most dear to her heart is being carefully planned. Her live show KATE, which she wrote, is like her “child.” At the time of this interview, she has just returned to Los Angeles after a sold-out stint in New York, but she’ll be returning to the material for another run in the winter. Berlant plays “Kate” in the solo piece. She is a heavily distorted version of herself, an actress who is drawn to the camera, but keeps a secret. A clip from A League of Their Own flashes before Berlant takes to the stage. It’s a joke that was tucked into a “blatantly careerist moment .”
KATE a performance about performance, a topic Berlant loves. “It’s about someone trying to prove that they’re an actor, and outside of it, it’s me, Kate Berlant trying to be like, ‘Hello! I’m an actress. She says, “I want to act,” which to me is what makes the show so vulnerable.” “The show is very revealing about me because it’s a very naked effort to be seen .”
This story first appeared in a stand-alone November issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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