Molly Shannon Reveals The Story Behind Jeannie Darcy
One of the great joys of watching Saturday Night Live is getting the chance to witness those rare 11th-hour sketches — the kind that are so bizarre and subversive, a few years need to pass before anyone can stop and say, “Hey, that was kind of awesome.”
For me, that sketch was always Jeannie Darcy, Molly Shannon’s painfully unaware stand-up comedian whose jokes about her relationships had the ability to kill (quite literally, in the case of her trip to St. Joseph’s Hospital in 2001).
Darcy made only three appearances on SNL, a number that pales in comparison to Shannon’s most-popular character, Mary Katherine Gallagher. Even so, Darcy became a benchmark among die-hard Shannon fans; an opportunity to showcase her ability to be both hilarious and downright weird.
Looking back on the character nearly 13 years after it debuted, Shannon tells Celebuzz she created it based on a combination of people and experiences.
“My father-in-law doesn’t know this, but it’s a little based on him and then a little made up of somebody in the spectrum of Asperger’s who tries to get into comedy,” she said with a laugh. “And then also somebody who’s completely out of touch with her own sexuality, which is an area that was of interest to me. Clearly, she’s gay, but she’s still doing straight comedy.”
“I liked that she’s terrible at comedy,” she continued. “I think that came from an idea when I was first struggling in Los Angeles. I was amazed at the people who would just stay in town and keep trying and working on their acts, even when there were no breaks coming. I loved that the character lived somewhere in the heart of the northern part of the San Fernando Valley and she’s like, ‘Well, I’m working on my jokes.’ She’s just somebody who should not be in comedy at all, but she has a lot of hope and she’ just working on her act and she stays hopeful.”
Shannon left SNL in February 2001, and went on to star in and produce a number of projects. Most recently, she appeared on the TV comedy Enlightened, which HBO canceled in March after just two seasons.
“I actually really feel like they made a mistake,” she said of HBO’s decision to pull the plug on the critically acclaimed — but low-rated — series. “I loved the show. [Creator] Mike White’s a really good friend of mine.”
“I just felt like the show really gained traction this season,” she continued. “I really felt like we could have used another season to explore those characters. I thought the characters were so good. I loved the world. I love Laura Dern, and Diane Ladd, and Luke Wilson and Dermot Mulroney and Mike White — just the whole world of Abbadon and then the downstairs world. To me, it’s one of my favorite acting jobs I’ve ever done.”
For now, she’s keeping her focus on a new campaign for Excedrin, which has Facebook users vote to determine who deserves the headache-relief medicine the most.
“I don’t think headaches are funny or something to laugh at,” Shannon said. “But sometimes when I think about situations that might be headache-inducing, I would definitely have a sense of humor about it. For me, it would bet dying to get my kids in the car in the morning. Like, ‘Come on! Get your shoes on! Get in the car!’ I’m like a drill sergeant. [Laughs]”
“If you go to the Excedrin Facebook page, you can go and vote on who deserves Excedrin the most, and there’s a chance to give away all these prizes,” she continued.
“Also, they made sixteen funny videos about various headache-inducing scenarios. There is one really cute one about a little girl with her mom, and every 10 seconds she asks her mom, “Why?” I just thought it was really funny, because I actually saw a little kid at the airport who did the same thing to her mom, and the mom was like, “I don’t know!” The mom got so impatient. It was very funny.”