If you haven’t seen Odd Mom Out, head directly to your TV. The hit Bravo show pokes fun at the audacious behavior of New York City’s super wealthy on the Upper East Side. The show skewers everything from getting into the right preschool to the competition for burial plots. Season Two debuts June 20, armed with the show’s signature humor and the addition of celebrity guests like Drew Barrymore and Blythe Danner.
Connecticut native Abby Elliott brilliantly stars as Brooke Von Weber, the momzilla extraordinaire and sister-in-law of creator and star Jill Kargman. The daughter of actor/comedian Chris Elliott (Groundhog Day, There’s Something About Mary) and an alum (along with her father) of Saturday Night Live, Elliott knows funny.
Were you always interested in comedy?
Always. I grew up with a funny father and thought I would go down the musical theater route. I was interested in dramatic acting and performed in plays at school. After I graduated high school, I auditioned for Juilliard’s acting program where you had to perform a contemporary and Shakespearean monologue and I was terrible. I think at that moment I realized I should go into comedy!
Where did you get your improvisation and acting training?
I went to Marymount Manhattan College for a semester and it was the same thing as Juilliard—I was trying out for dramatic monologues and getting more laughs than tears. That inspired me to move to LA and start comedy improvisation classes at [legendary improv company] The Groundlings.
What was it like growing up with actor and comedian Chris Elliott as your dad?
It was great! He was really goofy when I was young. We would put on plays and he would record them. We would do parodies. I remember doing a Calvin Klein CK One commercial and recording it with my dad. We were always encouraged to have fun and be silly. When I was around 12 I would go to The Late Show with David Letterman when he was on, and once my sister and I played his daughters in a comic bit. We did a similar thing on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. We were so nervous and only had one line. I also have memories of my dad when he was a cast member on SNL. I remember going to the studio and meeting Sarah Jessica Parker and going home and drawing a picture of her.
Who was your mentor when you started out?
My dad was definitely my mentor. He would always tell me if you’re not having fun, what’s the point; it’s not worth it. I would call him crying after a commercial audition and he would just tell me not to go to these things. In that sense it helped me weed out the things that were making me unhappy and focus on the right opportunities, which would [not] have been that Pizza Hut commercial! Although commercials pay really well!
What advice would you give if your child wanted to be an actor?
When I have kids they will see me acting, and they’ll see what I am going through, just like I watched my dad go through things. I wouldn’t discourage them from doing what they wanted, but I would let them know how difficult it is. I would also give the same advice my dad gave me—if it’s not fun, it’s not worth it.
You were on Saturday Night Live for four seasons. What was that experience like?
It was kind of like my college experience because I started when I was 21. I really learned how to write and be in a pressure cooker environment. I loved working with Kristen Wiig. She is so talented and I learned so much from watching her technique. I only had a year working with Casey Wilson, but I think she is one of the funniest comedians working today.
What was your experience working with Amy Schumer on Inside Amy Schumer?
She is amazing. I love her so much! She is a champion for women and I’m not just saying that. There are people that supposedly are but I can tell you they are not—I’m not going to name names! She is incredibly supportive of everyone around her. She always took the time to give me feedback on my work and it was such a good feeling.
How did you first get involved with Odd Mom Out?
I saw the pilot presentation that Jill [Kargman] made and loved it. I immediately thought she was incredible. Jill is so smart and there is nobody like her. She asked to meet with me in LA and I couldn’t believe that this person wasn’t an actress. She obviously was a writer but I thought she should be on TV. Her comedic sensibility is unlike anyone’s I’ve ever met. It’s not something you can learn and it’s not something you can train for. It’s her. I immediately knew I wanted to work with her.
You play Brooke, an unlikable momzilla character on Odd Mom Out. Where do you get your inspiration for playing the character?
I’ve met a lot of people along this crazy journey in life that embody Brooke, whether it’s the mean girl in high school or an actual Upper East Side mother that I babysat for. She is a combination of all those people. When Jill wrote the character it was a combination of all the people she knew in her own personal life. She has said that none of them think it’s based on themselves!
Do the women on the show remind you at all of women you knew growing up in this area?
Absolutely. The competitive softball moms! There weren’t many, but there were a few.
What is life like on set?
Every day is fun. The fish stinks from the head down or smells like roses from the head down. With Jill it is a dream. They hand me gifts with their writing and I can have the freedom to try different things. Jill is similar to the character she plays on the show. She is hysterical and chock full of jokes. She is a writer and can just turn it on and go. I’m in awe of her.
What are you most excited about for the second season?
Blythe Danner is guest starring and it was amazing to work with her. She’s wonderful and brilliant. I also got to work with Molly Ringwald which was awesome. Drew Barrymore is another guest star this season and I’m really excited about her episode.
What about the show do you think hits a nerve with so many people?
Jill Kargman always says it’s like keeping up with the Joneses. Like your neighbor having a new car and you’re envious. Odd Mom Out is more about keeping up with the Rockefellers. It’s the same thing but on a different scale. It’s that feeling of always wanting to be perfect and have what someone else has and feeling like the odd person out when you don’t have that car.
Did you ever feel that way living here?
A little, I think, because we were a family of artists in Wilton where most people’s dads commuted to the city for work in a finance job or what have you. In that way I definitely did. Also, there wasn’t a huge art presence there. I went to Catholic school so even in that way I felt left out from the rest of the town.
What did you like best about being raised in Connecticut?
I love Connecticut. I grew up in Wilton and moved to Ridgefield in high school. I’m getting married in Old Lyme in September. I’m a Connecticut girl through and through. I loved knowing people in my town, the carnival coming every year, going to the gazebo in Wilton and hanging out as a pre-teen. There was a trail behind our house in Wilton that we would walk through to a riding club and pet the horses.
It was all really fun for me. I played softball and travelled to all the other towns. My parents have since moved to the shore in Connecticut and I love coming to visit them.
Do you come back often?
My best girlfriend lives in Stamford. I was with her just last week and we went to Hudson Grille for her birthday. There is a whole strip of clubs there and it is quite a scene! It was really fun.
By Hollie Parmelee
Photographs by Emilio G. Hernandez