Comedy fans know Kristen Wiig for her signature blend of physical comedy and impeccable timing, but even viewers that don't see her theatrical masterpieces know that she's pretty amazing during her late-night visits to Jimmy Fallon.
During her appearances on The Tonight Show, Wiig has portrayed a slew of different characters, ranging from reality-show superstar JoJo Fletcher to Game of Thrones stalwart Daenerys Targaryen. In a new interview with Esquire, Wiig explained that those impromptu performances are just that: improvised. Chalk it up to her time on SNL, but that on-the-spot comedy shows off major chops.
"I get there, like, fifteen minutes early and they have something for me to wear. It's really fun for me because I don’t have to prepare stories. It’s kind of like improv. There's no reason to be nervous because you don’t have anything you have to say, and it really forces you to be in the moment," Wiig explained. "And when the audience knows that you're not prepared, maybe they're on your side a little bit more, too. It feels like everyone's in the same boat watching you try to make up stuff on the spot. So you feel like you just have a little more freedom to fail."
Wiig explains that for her, it's actually easier to improvise these various characters than actually talk about herself. She told the men's magazine that talking about herself would actually give her a major case of anxiety.
"If someone told me to get onstage and just be myself and start talking, I think I would have a panic attack," she said.
To Wiig, having a character between her and her audience gives her a bit of a buffer. When she's dressed as Peyton Manning or Michael Jordan, the audience knows that she's playing a part, so things aren't taken the same way as when she says them as Kristen Wiig.
"I never wanted to be myself on Saturday Night Live," she added. "I wanted to separate the two: being on the show and me."
For now, Wiig says that she's looking to challenge herself, whether that means dramatic or comedic roles. No matter what she does, fans can be sure that during those obligatory promo tours, she'll be her usual, side-splitting self when she pays her regular visit to Jimmy Fallon.
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