Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Closing Session: Molly Shannon

The last day was yesterday! Kind of couldn't believe it. The only ALA event was the closing session, which was with actress, comedian, and now writer, Molly Shannon. The reason she was speaking at ALA is because she recently came out with a children's book called Tilly the Trickster. She didn't talk about her book right away though. First she just talked about her life.  Her mother and younger sister died in a car accident when Molly was very young, so she grew up with her older sister and her father.  She spoke very highly of her father, praising him for letting her be herself.  She had a love for singing and dancing and theater early on, and in 6th grade she joined a theater group.  She loved how affectionate the theater people were.

Molly got into NYU, and her father encouraged her to march herself into talent agent's offices and tell them how she was the next big thing.  So she did, and she got herself and agent.  Interestingly, Molly did mostly drama.  It wasn't until a college review show that she first started doing improv and comedy.  This is also when she first invent the character of Mary Katherine Gallagher.  People started telling her she should do comedy. 

After graduation, Molly moved to LA with the goal of creating her own comedy show.  She took a class at Second City where she met Rob Muir and they started The Rob and Molly show.  She also went on auditions, but no one was interested or understood what she was doing.  She decided to focus on her stage show and work on developing her characters.  Molly joined the cast of SNL after Marci Klein saw her perform in her show.  Molly talked about what it was like to be on SNL, which is apparently pretty stressful.  It's more of a writing job than anything else, since you're competing to have your sketches chosen over many others.

Molly has since been in many movies and TV shows, as well as in Promises, Promises on Broadway and is currently developing a TV show for HBO about a nun leaving the convent after many years and getting into the world of dating.  Amazing.

The Molly began to talk about why she wanted to write a children's book.  She said she'd always wanted to write one, but felt like she should wait until she'd have kids so she would understand better what they liked.  She always told oral stories to her children (she has a little boy and girl who are SO CUTE) and what they liked best was when the kids in the stories played tricks on each other.

Molly was a bit of a trickster herself, and she told a hysterical story about she and a friend dressing up as ballerinas and sneaking on to a plane to New York.  They'd ask her father first, of course, and he'd said, "Sure, if you can do it."  And then they really did it and ended up in New York!  Molly said she thought it was important to create an irreverent character, one that was not mean spirited, but liked to have fun.  She also wanted the book be something that would be easy for parents to read out loud to their children.

Molly ended by reading the book aloud to us.  She was an excellent reader out-louder, I can see why her kids love her stories so much.  It's a very cute book.  Molly ended by saying that librarians were very close to her heart.  Her mother was a librarian, and after she died her students had written wonderful things about her and Molly would read them and feel like she knew her mother better.  Molly was such fun and it was great to hear her speak.  A successful end to the conference!

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