Kristen Schaal voices the character of Louise in FOX’s animated hit comedy, Bob’s Burgers. Louise, which is also my grandmothers name (I know you really wanted to know that), is the youngest and oddest member of the Belcher family and is constantly causing trouble; telling customers the burgers are made out of human remains or that her dad, Bob, died inside the walls of the restaurant.
I first saw Schaal, who won Best Alternative Comic at the 2006 Aspen Comedy Arts Festival, on HBO’s awesome Flight of the Conchords and have loved her ever since. Her recent credits include Dinner for Schmucks, voice-over work on Toy Story 3 and Shrek Forever After as well as Modern Family and most recently, 30 Rock and The Daily Show with John Stewart.
Kristen was joined by series creator and producer Loren Bouchard in a conference call where they talked about her character, being the only ‘real woman’ in the cast and how she is actually 75 years old – or so she says.
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Bob’s Burgers airs on Sundays at 8:30/7:30c on FOX
Kristen, despite there being many female characters on the show, you seem to be the only woman in the regular cast. How is that?
Kristen Schaal: Well, it hasn’t been abnormal in any way. They’re all my friends so it’s just like going to work with my friends. I don’t feel any gender equality or any special treatment, unfortunately.
Even since you guys have started last season there have been a lot of animated shows come out. What makes your show unique from other animated shows?
Kristen Schaal: I said this before and I realize it’s perfect. I would say that our show is sort of the Citizen Cane of cartoons but funnier. Don’t you agree, Loren?
Loren Bouchard: Yes. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds great.
Kristen Schaal: I don’t want to say that other cartoons don’t have this, but what I like about Bob’s Burgers is that the characters are very well-rounded and accessible. As much as they are funny, I don’t think they’re over the top or unbelievable. I think that they are people that you could sort of come across, so in that regard I think the relationship that they’re going to have with viewers is eternal.
Loren Bouchard: That sounds nice. Eternal sounds nice. I agree wholeheartedly with. I would add that I don’t whether the other shows would agree or disagree and I don’t want to take anything away from them, but Bob’s Burgers is specifically character-based. It’s character-driven in the extreme. We are really committed to that. It’s more important than being satirical, which we are not. It’s more important than jokes even. We like jokes, but being character-driven and protecting the characters is probably the guiding principle for us.
Kristen, is there a story behind how you got this part, and what is it specifically about your character that blows your skirt up?
Kristen Schaal: Okay. That’s disgusting, first of all. I don’t wear skirts. She’s nine. No, I wear dresses. I got the part because I would give all the credit to Holly Slessinger – good luck spelling that German name – who is Loren’s assistant. Now she writes on the show. She told Loren to come and see me perform at a comedy show. He came to this hole in the wall, Lori’s Sideshow, and then he put me in the show. Isn’t that right, Loren, that’s how I got it?
Loren Bouchard: Yes. That’s it but there is this terrible lag time. I saw you years ago. Holly Slessinger, what Kristen said was true. She was emphatic. She’s good at this and she identified people we should work with before. She said, “Oh, we’ve got to work with Kristen. She’s got a voice that’s natural for animation and she’s incredibly funny.” That was like five years ago and I just don’t know why we didn’t put you in about two or three other things before Bob’s Burgers, but that is just a tragedy—
Kristen Schaal: I could have used the money. I’ll say that. I was working some other jobs I’m not too proud of.
Loren Bouchard: You could have been rolling in cable TV money.
Kristen Schaal: I know, man. I could have had so much blowing up my skirt.
Loren Bouchard: You could have been spending some of that adult … dough, but instead, maybe we were sort of destined to wait for this project because it does feel perfect. It’s nice that we’re finally able to do something together.
Kristen Schaal: Yes. In answer the second part of your question, Louise is the only reason I get out of bed in the morning is just to play her. Otherwise, I’d probably just stay in bed under a deep depression in my own tent of a comforter and just wish the world away.
Kristen, what do you find most challenging about voicing an animated series?
Kristen Schaal: I think just being sure to protect your vocal chords and also keeping the energy up, to be honest. It’s a lot of energy that people don’t realize just making the character come alive with just your voice. I think you have to preserve it to get through recording and to keep the integrity all the way through. I’m like an athlete and a lot people don’t understand that. It’s really starting to get under my skin that I don’t have an endorsement deal yet.
What do you do to maintain the integrity of your voice? Do you do any vocal exercises, or do you just keep quiet for a few days sometimes or a couple of hours?
Kristen Schaal: I can’t keep quiet. I’ve got too much to say. No, I don’t do anything, but I don’t smoke cigarettes and that’s about it.
Kristen, how did you get your start?
Kristen Schaal: Well, you know, I was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I had three kids. I was on my fourth husband and I was just like, “You know what? I’m 57 years old and is this really what I dreamed of with my life?” Then I just packed it up and I moved to New York. I wanted to audition for stuff but I didn’t have the look. I didn’t have the look and my voice was a little weird, so I couldn’t even get an agent or any auditions so I just started doing standup. After that standup was very appealing to certain folks and I clawed my way up and go into the Aspen Comedy Festival and from there got Flight of the Concords. Now as a 75-year-old woman I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I took the plunge.
Well, you look fantastic for 75.
Kristen Schaal: You know, people have been saying that but I disagree. I’m going to get some work done. I think I am. I’m going to try that poison in your face.