TRANSCRIPT Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Claudia O’Doherty

Claudia O’Doherty is, as you are about to hear, an extremely funny person. She is from Sydney, Australia. Some of her work includes serving as a writer on Inside Amy Schumer and a regular part on Netflix’s Love. Claudia has her own brand of comedy that I guess one could describe as “cheerfully deranged.” Sort of a kindler, gentler Adult Swim bizarreness. Her latest project is called Killing It. It is a sitcom streaming on Peacock summed pretty neatly in the tag line: “Class, capitalism and one man’s quest to achieve the American dream.” Claudia O’Doherty joins Bullseye to talk about her work on Killing It. She also talks with us about how she got into comedy and the Australian comedy scene. Plus, she reveals to us what the Australian term for “slide” is – like the playground toy you slide down.

Guests: Claudia O'Doherty

Transcript

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Speaker: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn is a production of MaximumFun.org and is distributed by NPR. [Music fades out.]

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jesse thorn

It’s Bullseye. I’m Jesse Thorn. Claudia O’Doherty is my next guest this week. She is, as you’re about to hear, an extremely funny person. She’s from Sydney, Australia. She was a writer on Inside Amy Schumer, a regular on the Netflix show Love. She has her own brand of comedy that you might describe as cheerfully deranged, sort of like a kinder, gentler Adult Swim bizarreness. That means standup sets sponsored by the National Chair Association, videos recorded from home while under house arrest, and a fake news magazine piece about women in magic and whether they’re witches.

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Claudia O’Doherty: And we’ve got her here, today! It’s Lydia Kroman. Ooooh! You must be so nervous. Did you ever think you’d get to be on TV? Lydia Kroman: Oh, well, I’ve actually already been on TV. Um, I asked a question on Question Time. Claudia: Oh! Were you asking when they were gonna outlaw burning witches at the stake? Lydia: I think it’s already illegal to burn people at the stake. Claudia: Oh, sorry, people. Witches are people. You… are a person. Lydia: I’m not a witch. Um. I’m an entertainer and professional medium. I’m actually one of the top 15 corporate entertainers within a 60-mile radius, and I’m gonna be going on a— Claudia: [Interrupting.] Is your husband a wizard?

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jesse

Claudia’s latest project is called Killing It. It’s a sitcom streaming on Peacock. It’s summed up pretty neatly in the tagline: “Class, capitalism, and one man’s quest to achieve the American dream.” That one man is Craig, played by Craig Robinson—Darryl from The Office and Doug Judy from Brooklyn 99. He’s an out of work security guard with a nearly surefire plan for business success. All he needs is capital. And after getting turned down for a loan from pretty much every bank, he finally catches a break. He’s got a good meeting with a loan officer in an hour, and he hustles out the door. Only, his car’s busted. So, he opens up an app and hails a ride. Enter Jillian G, played by my guest, Claudia O’Doherty.

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Music: Upbeat, plucky music. Jillian (Killing It): You didn’t have to worry. I’m not one of those weird Uber drivers that doesn’t talk. Craig: Okay. Jillian: Are you from around here? Craig: Yes. Jillian: I’m from Australia. [Beat.] Have you ever seen the movie Grease? Craig: [Beat.] Yeah. Jillian: Well, here’s a little secret for you. Olivia Newton-John is from Australia! [Beat.] Sandy? [Beat.] She played Sandy. Yeah. Craig: Yeah, yeah. I know who you’re talking about. Jillian: Have you ever heard of Nicole Kidman? [A cellphone rings.] Craig: Oh! I’m sorry. I’ve gotta take this. Jillian: She’s Australian, too.

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jesse

[Laughs.] Claudia O’Doherty, welcome to Bullseye. It’s nice to see you.

claudia o’doherty

Thank you so much, Jesse! It’s so nice to be here.

jesse

Is that your understanding of what it is to be Australian in America? [Chuckling.] Just a list of Australian people?

claudia

100% how I have made a lot of friends.

jesse

You just—you get a meeting with your agent by saying that you know Yahoo Serious.

claudia

Exactly. I mean, I actually do sort of know Yahoo Serious.

jesse

[Shocked.] No, you don’t know Yahoo Serious!

claudia

I don’t know him very well, but he—my dad’s band did play the song that was like the end of Young Einstein. You know how he plays rock and roll music? [Jesse affirms.] And my—it was actually my—

jesse

That’s how he’s different from the old Einstein. One of several ways.

claudia

Exactly. [Laughs.] Yeah. That’s how he separates himself from his dad?

jesse

Yeah, I think so. Yeah.

claudia

The original Einstein? I don’t remember it that well. I remember the pie full of kittens, but that’s my Yahoo Serious connection.

jesse

Wait, so did Yahoo Serious ever come over to your house when you were a kid? [Claudia confirms.] I’m sorry that this is all Yahoo Serious stuff.

claudia

I think he did, yeah. I think he did. You know. I think my parents are still friends with him, but they’re definitely still friends with his ex-wife.

jesse

Yeah. [Laughs.] That rules. [Claudia agrees with a laugh.] Congratulations on that, Claudia.

claudia

Thank you so much. Yeah.

jesse

So, the first time I saw you perform was in Scotland, in Edinburgh. [Claudia expresses surprise.] At one of the Edinburgh festivals. And you were working mostly in England at the time. I think.

claudia

Yeah! I lived in London from 2012 to 2015, I think.

jesse

So, the show that I saw, the main thing that I remember was that you were some kind of weird guru—maybe a business guru. [Claudia affirms with a laugh.] And it was sort of like—I would describe the tone—it was a tone piece, let’s say. [Chuckling.] It was maybe like if Tim and Eric were more genial, maybe. [Claudia chuckles.] Like, it was still very upsetting. But—[laughs].

claudia

That was often one of my aims, to be upsetting. Yeah.

jesse

Yeah. And I mean, I saw that—and you had been like acclaimed at the fest. You know, you were doing great at that festival, but I remember seeing that show and thinking, “Where do you take this?” Like, [laughs] “Where—” Like, everyone else at that festival—like at the time, I don’t know if it’s still the case, but like England was in this huge standup comedy boom. So, if you could put together a decent hour to put up there, you could tour and make big money playing—you know—1000 seat community centers in Leeds all year long. [Claudia confirms.] And I saw you doing this weird thing in like a black turtleneck in front of space lights or something.

claudia

I wonder if you saw the show about soil erosion or the one where I had like a rear projection screen and a scrim in front of me, so I was inside the projection. [Jesse laughs.] Which one—do you remember which one that was?

jesse

Those both sound right, so.

claudia

I was wearing a turtleneck in one and in the other, I was wearing black shorts and black t-shirt. [Jesse affirms.] So. You know.

jesse

Well. So, what were you thinking you were doing? What was your plan there?

claudia

Well, I just wanted to like make funny shows. And like, you know, I’d always wanted to do comedy. I’d been in a sketch group with like two friends, in Sydney, Australia. And then they wanted to not do it anymore, because one of them wanted to be like a serious actor and one of them wanted to be like a playwright. And I just wanted to like keep doing comedy. But I didn’t wanna be a standup; that did not appeal to me at all. So, I was like well, I guess I could keep doing shows. And it was like very terrifying when I did my first solo show. But I was like, I guess just what I think is gonna be funny in a room for an hour and is like what, to me would be like worth making people be in a room for an hour for. Because that’s a very long time to watch something.

jesse

I have a vague feeling that maybe Maria Bamford and Greg Bahrendt and Arj Barker are famous in Australia. Besides— [Claudia confirms and giggles.] That’s great, because they’re all wonderful. Just that’s three of the best and I’m so glad they’re famous in Australia, three American comics. Besides that and Yahoo Serious, I don’t have a strong understanding of what’s going on in Australia.

claudia

In the Australian comedy world? [Jesse confirms.] Well, that was the weird—that’s kind of the weird thing about it, where it’s like it’s—there’s no like huge standup scene like there is in London or the UK or New York. But there is the Melbourne Comedy Festival and the Adelaide Fringe Festival. So, it’s kind of like a very—it’s very possible to like get started doing festival shows, which is actually probably why my showing [chuckling]—like, that is why I was doing what I was doing, where I was writing a new hour-long show every year. And I wasn’t—I like wasn’t thinking about touring. I was just always like, “What is, to me, the funnest thing you can do in like a 100-seat room every day for a month?”

jesse

What did you think you could achieve in England that you couldn’t in Australia?

claudia

Well, there just were tons more opportunities. ‘Cause I started to do Edinburgh before I moved to England, and there were always like people who wanted to like—you know, develop things or like be my agent. [Chuckles.] And stuff like that. Whereas like I had an agent in Australia, but like Australian television back then was like—there was almost nothing to do there. And there isn’t that much to do there now. There’s a little bit more because they’ve got Netflix and all—you know, there are streamers and stuff like that. But there were very, very deeply limited opportunities. But like, I always just wanted to like—you know, be in and make TV and movies, but I didn’t wanna like be an actor. I didn’t wanna like go to auditions and that didn’t—like, I didn’t wanna go to drama school. That seemed really, um, horrible to me. [They laugh.] So, I was like, “Well, I’ll do comedy. But also, I don’t wanna do standup.” And you know, eventually it worked out.

jesse

More with Claudia O’Doherty after the break. Stay with us! It’s Bullseye, from MaximumFun.org and NPR.

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jesse

It’s Bullseye, I’m Jesse Thorn. I’m talking with Claudia O’Doherty. She’s a writer, standup comic, and actor who’s worked with—among others—Amy Schumer and Will Forte and was a regular on the Netflix comedy, Love. On the new sitcom, Killing It, she stars alongside Craig Robinson as Jillian, a deranged, snake obsessed, app-based car driver. You can catch the show’s entire first season right now on Peacock. Let’s get back into our interview. When you moved to the United States, was it directly because you had gotten a job on Love?

claudia

Yes. That’s true. [Laughs.]

jesse

What was like the—what was like the phone call that you got or whatever?

claudia

I had to come over. And I’d sort of like had some—I’d done Trainwreck already, but I was still living in my share house in England. So, it was full of mice. And our landlords wouldn’t get rid of the mice for about eight months, which is tough for me, because I’m really scared of mice. There was so—

jesse

How many mice are we talking about?

claudia

Well, there was one day where like the poison that the landlords had put—which was like a powder they just like scattered across the floor. It like kicked in. And when you poison mice and rats, they go crazy because they want water. That’s what the poison does to them. And when they drink water, their insides explode or something like that. Then they die. So, there was like a day where all of my roommates were out and it was raining really heavily outside, and I was waiting to be picked up for a job. So, I like couldn’t leave. And I had dropped my phone in the toilet. So, I had a burner phone, like a little like—you know, with like two people’s phone numbers in it. And [chuckles] the poison kicked in, and suddenly there were mice everywhere.

jesse

[Chuckles.] That sounds like horrible torture.

claudia

Yeah, it was really bad.

jesse

So. [They chuckle.] So, you were surrounded by insane mice, and you got a call from Judd Apatow or whatever?

claudia

Oh, right. So, I had been living in that house. I’d—when I did Trainwreck, like on my last day—I shot on that movie for like three days. And then, Judd said to me like, “Heyyy!” Like, I was in the makeup trailer I think, and he was like, “Hey, we’re doing a show set in LA about relationships. You should be in it!” And I was like okay! [Chuckles.] Not thinking that was true at all, that any of that would actually happen. And then, my manager said it was true. But then I went back to England for like months. And then I went back to Australia. And I was—you know, for the Christmas holidays. And I was just like surely none of that’s happening. I also had no money. So, I was just like, “That would all be great. But I can’t believe that’s true.” And then I was like on my way to like a little vacation to a shack in the bush is what we call it. And I got a call—had bad reception and my manager was like, “The deal’s gone through! It’s happening. You’re going to America.”

jesse

How— [They laugh.] Great news, Fievel!

claudia

Did I give way too much detail to that story? [Chuckles.] Yeah! I was Fievel in this scenario.

jesse

How much—how much warning did you have?

claudia

I had—I think I had like a few months’ warning. So, I went back to London, recorded like a sketch show pilot with all my friends who—all the people from Stath Lets Flats. Have you seen that show?

jesse

Yeah, that’s a very funny show. It’s very—

claudia

Really, incredibly funny.

jesse

Very intense, though. [Laughs.]

claudia

It is really funny. And so, we recorded this sketch show pilot that obviously did not get made, and then I like left the next day. So, it was like early—yeah, it was a couple months after I found out, I guess.

jesse

What things were like different or overwhelming or a big adjustment to you when you moved to Los Angeles?

claudia

Uh, too many cars. [Chuckles.] The traffic was—you know. That—but actually, it was really nice, ‘cause I had lived in London, and I went from having like no money to some money. So, that’s like a fun improvement. Everyone would agree. And also, I had not realized that I missed sunshine, ‘cause I’m from Sydney, Australia. So, it was like, “Oh my god, it’s warm. This is incredible! And I have a really nice job and there’s nice people.” It was all pretty good, actually.

jesse

Did—what was it like for you to like always enter the room as an Australian person?

claudia

It’s kind of good. It makes—it gives you a thing. You know? [They chuckle.]

jesse

Besides just the turtlenecks.

claudia

Yeah, exactly. It was—yeah. And it continues to be my thing. I’m Australian.

jesse

Have you auditioned for anything where you’re supposed to speak with an American accent?

claudia

I definitely have. But it’s possible I like wiped them all from my brain. Often, like I’m just like can I just do it in my own accent? I mean, even with this show, Killing It, what we will be talking about—soon, I imagine. Like, I was—when I heard about it, I was like so desperate to audition for it, but I had a terrible feeling that they would want me to do it in an American accent, which would almost definitely count me out of the role. Because I don’t think people wanna hear a bad American accent. Although! Here’s my question for you, as an American. I’m often seeing Australians in stuff and I’m like, [muttering] “That’s a really bad accent.” But you guys don’t seem to care? Or you do care?

jesse

I think on the whole, of all the groups of non-American people doing American accents in film and television—of which there are innumerable ones, because we control the purse strings of the world’s entertainment industry. [Claudia confirms.] I would say Australians are—have a comfortable lead as the best among them.

claudia

That’s nice.

jesse

Like, you—there’s a looot of—

claudia

English people are worse, right?

jesse

Dramatically.

claudia

Yessss.

jesse

Significantly so. [Claudia laughs.] Yeah. Like, there is just a whole world of—my friend, Jordan, does a lot of answering the phone as Liam Neeson in one of those movies, where he goes like—

claudia

Okay, great. Yeah. Taken, etc.

jesse

[Impersonating Liam Neeson.] Yes! Arrr! Ooh! Eeeh! Ohhh!

claudia

Oh, is he speaking in an American accent in those movies? Ah, yes.

jesse

Yeah. [In a stilted American accent.] “I’m from Brooklyn.” That’s what Jordan says. [They chuckle.] Stealing his bit completely. But yeah, there’s a lot of either that or that kind of like Monty Python gameshow host voice, but in a dramatic film.

claudia

[In a slow and articulated American accent.] “Hellooo! How are yooou?” That kind of thing?

jesse

[Matching the impersonation.] “We areeee heeere.”

claudia

“Heeere we areee! I’m Jesse Thorn.” I can’t say that—no, I can’t do it.

jesse

Well, I’m glad that we got to hear your audition voice, ‘cause I was about to make you do it, and I tricked you.

claudia

That’s the audition voice I do. But I would also like to point out, if there’s any like really high-powered filmmakers listening to this episode, I could totally do an American accent if I really needed to. We could hire an accent coach. It’s fine. [Jesse disagrees.] It’s fine! And also, like sometimes people aren’t that great at it. It doesn’t matter. Who cares?

jesse

So, you said you were desperate to get a part on Killing It. That’s because you have always wanted to do a snake contest show?

claudia

Yeah. [Laughs.] That’s—no, well, I actually have worked with snakes before. So.

jesse

Worked for snakes?!

claudia

With snakes. You know. If anything, the snakes are working for me. [Jesse agrees with a laugh.] But yeah. Anything with snakes, I wanna be involved in.

jesse

I’m excited to hear more about this. I mean, we were talking before we came into the studio, and I was saying that one of the—I’ve only seen a rough cut of the pilot so far. That’s all there is, as we record this.

claudia

Yes! But that’s more than I’ve seen!

jesse

Well, it’s—one of the things that really impressed me about it was how lived-in and natural and funny this world was when, in the pilot, they had to do the work of establishing why Craig Robinson’s character wants to enter a snake killing contest to get $20,000. [Claudia agrees with a laugh.] Like, that’s a lot of concept.

claudia

It’s a lot of work!

jesse

For a naturalistic—or relatively naturalistic—comedy.

claudia

Totally. But you do you think we did it?!

jesse

Yeah! I thought it was fantastic.

claudia

That’s great.

jesse

I thought it was great.

claudia

I am so thrilled to hear that.

jesse

So, how did you hear about this snake show, and in all sincerity, like what led you be desperate?

claudia

I—well, my friend texted me, my friend Mike Silvestri, who’s a standup and a writer. And he was a writer on the show. And he—and this was like months before I auditioned. And he was like, “Hey. Are you… like available at the end of the year?” Or you know. “We’re doing—I’m writing this show. It’s Luke Del Tredici and Dan Goor, the Brooklyn 99 guys, starring Craig Robinson. It’s set in—you know, it’s set in Florida. And it’s like about a snake hunt. And this character, you know, that we’re talking about is this like very optimistic Uber driver.” And I was like, “I should do that!” Like, I was like, “That all sounds like great stuff I definitely wanna do.” And I was technically unavailable, but I was like, “I would be available for this.” And so, I was like, “Yes, please. That’s what I wanna do.” And then I kept telling my manager that I wanted to do it, and he was kind of like alright. Because I think that was actually kind of a longshot that it would be me doing this part. They would probably get someone more famous to do it and American. But you know. So, we were organizing this other work for the end of the year, and I kept being like, “But you know I wanna do Killing It.” And he was like okay! Because I think they were contemplating giving it to much more famous people.

jesse

You are often asked to play foolishly optimistic people. [Claudia laughs and agrees.] Or foolishly rosy people. Do you ever feel concern about how that reflects on you as a real human being?

claudia

I think it reflects kind of well on me as a human being! ‘Cause actually, like my instinct when I write—you know, I just think when I write something for myself, like when I was doing those Edinburgh shows, I guess my—you know, I’d always play an idiot. That was what I was doing. But often I’m kind of a slightly meaner idiot. You know, I think nice idiots and mean idiots, those are like—to me—the two funny kinds of people. [They laugh.]

jesse

Yeah. That’s fair.

claudia

And so, I think when I would write stuff for myself, I was always writing myself as like a mean idiot. And when I actually got the part on Love, they were like, “Oh, we’ve got this character. It’s Gillian’s best friend. She’s kind of like this cool like dry character.” And I was like I have no idea how to make that funny. And then they were like, “But if you’ve got any ideas for a character, bring it in and we’ll talk about it.” And so, I said, like—the idea I came up with [giggles]—which, I was told absolutely to not tell them, because I was like— ‘Cause I knew that there was like a TV show within that show that Paul’s character was like an onset tutor for. And there were kids in that show. So, I was like, “What if—” Because I’m like 5’2”, I was like, “What if I play the little boy’s stand-in?” [Jesse chuckles.] ‘Cause I just thought that would be really funny. And my manager was like, “Don’t tell them that! They’re trying to get you to play a much bigger part on the show.” [Jesse laughs.] And I was like, “But that would be funny! I’m a little boy’s stand-in.” And then when I came in, I think I was—you know—being really friendly, ‘cause I was terrified and trying to make them like me. And they were like, “Oh no, we don’t wanna do stand-in character. We’re gonna make you a very friendly idiot.” And that’s—I guess that’s where it all started.

jesse

So, the show that—the show that I saw you in where—it was the first time I saw you, your character had this level of broad smiling. [They laugh.] But it was clearly like somewhere between disingenuous and evil. [Claudia agrees and confirms.] And I think that I, as a human person, struggle to believe that others could be happy or actually nice to me. [Laughs.]

claudia

[Surprised.] Oh, wow! Okay. Are you okay? [Chuckles.]

jesse

[Laughing brightly.] No! Of course not! No, I’m baaarely hanging on at any given moment.

claudia

Okay, great. Yeah. Sure.

jesse

But I—so, I wonder if you have interrogated your own friendliness and asked yourself, “Am I friendly because I’m happy or friendly because I’m running from something?”

claudia

Right. Well, I didn’t even know that in real life I’m that friendly. To be honest, I’m not. I mean, I’m not mean. But I’m, um—mmm. I can be sort of like fairly judgmental and removed.

jesse

I was worried when you came on my comedy show, years ago—my reaction when I like got home to my wife was like, “Claudia O’Doherty was so funny. I think maybe she hates us.”

claudia

Oh my god! [Laughing in surprise.] See!

jesse

Like, I truly couldn’t tell. I couldn’t tell if you were being nice—

claudia

Totally removed—

jesse

—or if you hated us!

claudia

Removed! Oh my god, that’s scary. Well, I’m—I don’t hate you. [Jesse thanks her and sighs with exaggerated relief.] Didn’t hate you. Sorry for making you feel that way, but that proves what I’m saying, which is like—I think also just like when you’re a little woman, which is what I am, people come at you pretty hard. So, you kind of have to put some walls up. So, actually I’m not that—I’m not that friendly in real life. Yeah. But somehow, that’s become my schtick, I guess?

jesse

It’s okay to have a schtick. You’re really great at it.

claudia

That’s so nice. Thank you. Well, yeah! Cool! [They laugh.]

jesse

Are you comfortable with the idea that you live in a foreign country now, and that’s probably where your career lives?

claudia

No. [Laughs.] I’m not, really. I mean, definitely going back for the bulk of the initiation of the pandemic. Australia’s a really nice country to live in. It’s also very much, um… uh, you know. It suffers at the hands of climate change pretty immediately. Bush fires. Very flooded at the moment. But Australia’s really nice. It’s where my family is. And I was kind of like, “Maybe it’s time to come on back to Australia.” And then, I got a different job, which sort of brought me back to America. Also, I had left my life pretty suddenly here, and I have like an apartment that I rent here that I had sublet, and I was kind of like, “Well, I’ll go back for a little bit, do this job, see what happens.” And then I got the job on Killing It, which does kind of feel like it puts me here. But who knows? Who knows what’s gonna happen? But yeah, I’m more scared of America now.

jesse

Than before?

claudia

I think—well, no, I was always scared of America. But just like kind of like I’m like, “How long can I spend in America?” You tell me, Jesse!

jesse

What part of it are you scared of?

claudia

Um, just how far away it is from my family. I like going to the beach. I know you’ve got the beach in Los Angeles, but it’s a whole different thing.

jesse

We have bush fires too, if that helps. [Chuckles.]

claudia

Yeah. I don’t—I’m not happy about that. [Laughs.] I should be avoiding the sort of, you know, natural disasters that I would naturally get in Sydney.

jesse

Is most of your fear about America based on not fitting in or feeling like your career could end or just being—you know—relatively alone ‘cause you’re far from your family?

claudia

Mm! Okay, well! Very deep question. Actually, I feel like my career is much healthier in America. And I’m right about that. That’s true. [They laugh.] I sort of don’t really have a career in Australia. So, it’s a tricky thing of like, well, where do you live when your work is in one place? What is my fear of America based on? What do you think, man?! [Laughs.] Everything! You know. All the stuff you guys have going on. But I’m so happy to be here.

jesse

Baseball, or—?

claudia

It’s the base—I’m so scared of baseball. Look, I’m not really that scared of America, but you know, it’s a terrifying time in the world. Right?

jesse

Yeah. [Claudia affirms.] Do you think that that’s better in Australia?

claudia

Well, certainly like you guys are gonna get nuked before Australia does. Even if it’s like only a couple days. [They laugh.]

jesse

But you’ll have that few days to make peace with your god?

claudia

Well, to feel really scared. [Jesse laughs.] Yeah. We’re just—Australia’s just so far away from everything. So, you’re kind of like—we’re really—that’s a different feeling, in America.

jesse

Are there cultural things about Australia that you miss when you’re in the States?

claudia

I don’t know if the—not really. I mean, like we’re much more sarcastic. We’re much less earnest. But you know, that’s fine. I don’t worry—it doesn’t worry me that everyone here is a lot more earnest. Kind of funny. [They laugh.]

jesse

I thought you were gonna say it was kind of sweet or something!

claudia

[Laughing quietly.] It’s funny. Separates me from everyone else.

jesse

You really are as judgmental as they say. [Claudia agrees and they laugh.] I would think that there’s a lot of room here to be weird. [Claudia agrees.] Simply just as a function of like scale. Right? Like, in the entertainment industry, there's so much different stuff going on that there’s more room to be weird.

claudia

Oh! Absolutely. I mean, as I said, there’s like an actual industry here. That is like a huge difference. That’s really what’s keeping me here right now is like jobs. Actual jobs.

jesse

When you go back—so, like I’m from San Francisco and I live in Los Angeles, right? And every day that I live in Los Angeles, which is one of the great cities of the world, I miss San Francisco. [Claudia “aw”s.] I’m lucky to grow up somewhere that I really love.

claudia

Yeah, that’s really nice.

jesse

But also, when I go home to San Francisco to visit my mom or my brothers—you know, it’s not the place that lives inside me.

claudia

You grew up in. Yeah.

jesse

Yeah. It’s a different place.

claudia

Yeah, no, Sydney’s the same.

jesse

Yeah. So, like when you go home, to what extent do you feel like, oh, I’m home, and to what extent do you feel like wow, I left—you can’t go home again?

claudia

No, I kind of feel like you can go home again. I went home again. I sort of reentered my teen years for a year and a half, from 2020 through to mid-2021. Although, I did—you know—like get attacked by a shark. But um. It—yeah, you can—I can go home again. My parents still live in the same house. They’ll never move. [Chuckles.]

jesse

Do you mean that when you were a teenager you nearly got attacked by a shark or just recently?

claudia

Oh, just recently. In May of 2021. And I didn’t really nearly get attacked by a shark, but I did accidentally swim into a nest of sharks.

jesse

Okay. So, what kind of sharks are we talking about here?

claudia

I think they were dusky whaler sharks. They’ve bitten people before, but not really killed—maybe killed one person. I obviously googled extensively once I had accidentally found myself—

jesse

What are they more into biting? Whales?

claudia

I don’t know! You would—is that why that shark is called a whaler? ‘Cause it—

jesse

I mean, that was my guess. I don’t think they play hockey in Hartford.

claudia

They’re not gigantic, but they’re definitely a classic shark. So, you’ll see it and your brain goes, “Uh-oh!”

jesse

They—and they have nests in Australia?

claudia

Well, it was—I was swimming at Shelly Beach, which is this great beach. It’s like a marine reserve. People love to snorkel and scuba dive there. And so—and there’s so much sea life there. I love snorkeling. And it was May, and it was like weirdly hot, ‘cause of climate change I guess. So, my friends and I went—‘cause that’s sort of getting into winter, in Australia. And were like, “Let’s go for one snorkel.” And we did. And I just like—I went out, I guess, kind of far. And I was like, “What’s that? That’s a shark. Okay, I’m gonna turn around to go—to swim back in.” And then I was like, “That’s another shark. And another shark.” And if anything, there were just more and more sharks the more I swam. And then, I googled it and—in May—it becomes like a nursery for dusky whalers. So, that’s why. There were just tons of sharks.

jesse

Did they have like—?

claudia

Fins? Yes.

jesse

I mean, I presume they had fins. [They laugh.] But I mean, were they—I’m doing—for the listener, I’m doing a fin hand gesture.

claudia

A classic Jaws-style hand gesture. Yeah. They look like, as I said—they look like sharks. So, your brain gets scared. So— [Jesse laughs.] But I was—I just was like, “I just gotta keep swimming.” But it was also kind of like a little bit murky. It had rained recently, and it was like late in the afternoon. So, I was like, “This is when people get bitten. Low visibility? I’m screwed.” But I was fine.

jesse

Do you think there’s a metaphor there?

claudia

Nope! Um. What would it be? [Jesse concedes.] Do you—what?

jesse

I don’t know, something about swimming with sharks?!

claudia

Just keep swimming?

jesse

Just throwing that out there.

claudia

Just keep swimming. Just keep breathing. Uh, no. I couldn’t—

jesse

Try not to look like a seal.

claudia

Yeah, try not to look like a seal. Try not to completely freak out. I mean, I did freak out for a second. And so, then I was like swimming as fast as I could, and I realized that was actually way slower than very calmly swimming and breathing my snorkel than doing like a manic freestyle that was very thrashy. [Jesse laughs.] Yeah. So, that’s a good lesson.

jesse

We’ll finish up with Claudia O’Doherty in just a minute. When we return, Claudia will reveal to me what the Australian term for “slide” is. Like, the kind of slide that you go down at a playground. It broke my brain, and it will probably break yours too. You have been warned. A little something called intercultural exchange. It’s Bullseye, from MaximumFun.org and NPR.

music

Thumpy synth with light vocalizations.

jesse

It’s Bullseye. I’m Jesse Thorn. I’m talking with Claudia O’Doherty. The actor and comedian is starring on the new Peacock sitcom, Killing It. Let’s get back into our interview. What do you love about America?

claudia

Wow! [Laughs.] Okay. Well, I mean, having a job! I do really love that. And like getting to work with people I find like really funny and really exciting. And for there to be like—just like a healthy industry that I get to participate in, I do really love that. And I love hamburgers.

jesse

Are you just adding that onto the end because you realized that what you just described is not like something that’s endemic to America? [She snorts a laugh.] Or like reflective of the quality of our nation, but rather just purely practical?

claudia

Well, I’m just giving you like a true—and super true answer. I’ve also got like lots of really nice friends here. And I love seeing them and getting to hang out with them. And you’ve got great food, but that’s hamburgers.

jesse

Yeah. Are you sincere about hamburgers?

claudia

Yeah, I love a Smashburger.

jesse

Yeah, Smashburgers are really good. That’s like a really—I was—I love all kinds of burgers, but those—the Smashburgers are the ones with a lot of browning. They’re cooked well done.

claudia

Yeah, those crispy—yeah. They’re the best because they’re also little. They can fit in your mouth easily. In Australia, the classic like sort of roadside burger is like insanely tall in the same way that maybe a New York deli sandwich is like—just a joke. You can’t put it in your mouth. What’s the point? [Jesse affirms.] But like—so, the Australian burger has like a beet root, pineapple, an egg. And it’s just—you can’t—and it’s so much juice coming out of the beet root that the bread like disintegrates. There’s no—there’s no point.

jesse

I feel like you just described like a breakfast you would buy for a baby at a natural food store. [They laugh.]

claudia

I don’t think forget though like—

jesse

What is a beach root?!

claudia

The beef patty—what do you mean what’s a beach root? You know what—oh, beets?

jesse

[Disbelievingly.] It’s a beet?!

claudia

Yeah. Sliced, tinned beets.

jesse

There’s beets on the hamburgers?! In Australia?

claudia

Australian burgers. Yeah! And like a tinned beet is pretty like soft and sweet. It doesn’t—it’s not crazy.

jesse

I mean, it absolutely, 100% is crazy.

claudia

It’s like ketchup in vegetable form.

jesse

A canned beet.

claudia

Yeah. Canned beets absolutely go on Australian burgers.

jesse

And an egg. [Claudia confirms.] I mean the egg—we have that.

claudia

Don’t forget sometimes pineapple!

jesse

With—so, all three of them together or one of each one?

claudia

And beef. Often bacon as well. All together.

jesse

Well, beef I would think would be taken as read. It wouldn’t be much of a burger—

claudia

It is a red meat. Yeah.

jesse

—if there weren’t a beef patty in there. [Claudia agrees with a laugh.] So—I’m sorry that the interview has become about this now, but—

claudia

No, I’m happy to talk burgers.

jesse

It’s a—it’s a beef patty. [Claudia confirms several times as Jesse continues.] And then a piece of beet. Canned beet. Kind of soft. Is it like a sweet—like a—is it like a pickled beet kind of thing?

claudia

It’s definitely like sweeter than an uncanned beet. So, I imagine there is a light pickling happening. Yeah.

jesse

And then the egg? [Claudia confirms.] Is this like a fried egg?

claudia

It’s a fried egg, yeah.

jesse

Is it fried hard or soft?

claudia

Soft. Yep.

jesse

And then there’s a piece of pineapple.

claudia

Pineapple, tomato—which I’m saying in a lightly American accent, so you understand what I’m saying. ‘Cause I would say tah-mah-to.

jesse

Yes. Tah-may-to. [Claudia echoes the pronunciation.] [Using the stilted American accent from earlier.] Would you like a tomato?

claudia

Would you like tomato on that? So, tomato, lettuce—like bad, shredded lettuce.

jesse

That’s the best kind for burgers.

claudia

And often some like half—like bacon that’s like crispy but also flabby.

jesse

[Jesse snorts into a loud, surprised laugh.] That’s not a kind, but I—

claudia

That’s how it’s cooked. You know, where it’s like—you know, it’s been on like the big flat grill. What do you call that?

jesse

A griddle?

claudia

Yeah, a griddle. But it’s—no, doesn’t have a griddle have like lines on it?

jesse

Or a flat top? A flat top.

claudia

A flat top. Yeah, it’s been on the flat top. So, it’s like—it’s cooked, but it’s not cooked that great.

jesse

Are there other things about Australia that are that mental that I as an American don’t know that I should know about? In case I ever visit?

claudia

Probably. I mean, you guys don’t have—we call things—we give things like very cute names. Like, what do you call the thing in the park that you slide down?

jesse

I would call that a slide.

claudia

We call it a slippery dip.

jesse

[Erupts into laughter that he struggles to put a lid on.] That rules! [Claudia agrees.] Oh my god, does that rule.

claudia

It’s nice.

jesse

[Still laughing.] Is that—is there president of the United Nations? ‘Cause I vote for Australia now.

claudia

Thank you! Yes! Yeah, that’s great.

jesse

[Strained.] A slippery dip! Are there other things like slippery dip?

claudia

I mean, there probably are, but I just think they’re normal names. You know what I mean?

jesse

Just ‘cause all names are great to you.

claudia

We could just go through a list of objects, and I could tell you what the Australian equivalent is.

jesse

Just American—you don’t even know that it’s—you just think all American names are disappointing.

claudia

Well, they’re just very straightforward. Yeah.

jesse

Well, Claudia, it’s been a joy to talk to you. Congratulations on the show and I’m so happy for all your success here. I hope you stay here and keep working for a long time so I can continue to enjoy your work.

claudia

That’s so nice. Thank you. You sort of have a threatening look on your face while you say that. [Laughs.]

jesse

I don’t! It’s just sincerity, Claudia. I really mean it.

claudia

Oh, it’s that American sincerity that I was talking about. [Jesse agrees.] Thank you, that’s so much. Thank you, that’s so much? That’s so nice. Thank you so much for having me.

jesse

Claudia O’Doherty. She’s fantastic on Killing It, which is really funny. It’s streaming now on Peacock. She’s also a great standup, and if you don’t believe me, just go on the internet and basically watch any video she’s ever made. You know. On YouTube or whatever. You won’t regret it. Claudia is so funny.

music

Bright, brassy music with a steady beat.

jesse

That’s the end of another episode of Bullseye. Bullseye, created from the homes me and the staff of Maximum Fun, in and around greater Los Angeles, California. There’s a light on the porch outside my home office here, and there’s been a little birdie hanging out over there. It’s pretty nice. I mean, I’m not like a full-on bird guy now, but… I wish the bird the best. Our show is produced by speaking into microphones. Our senior producer is Kevin Ferguson. Our producers, Jesus Ambrosio and Richard Robey. Our production fellow at Maximum Fun is Tabatha Myers. We get booking help from Mara Davis. Our interstitial music is by Dan Wally, who’s also known as DJW. Our theme music is by The Go! Team. It’s called “Huddle Formation”. Thanks to The Go! Team for sharing it with us, and to their label, Memphis Industries Records. Go! Team, great band. It’s from a great record. Check them out. Bullseye, also on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Find us there. Give us a follow. We’ll share with you all of our interviews. And I think that’s about it. Just remember: all great radio hosts have a signature signoff.

promo

Speaker: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn is a production of MaximumFun.org and is distributed by NPR. [Music fades out.]

About the show

Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.

If you would like to pitch a guest for Bullseye, please CLICK HERE. You can also follow Bullseye on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. For more about Bullseye and to see a list of stations that carry it, please click here.

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