Comedienne, actress and writer Natasha Leggero always knew that there was something more waiting for her beyond the limits of her city while growing up in Rockford, IL. When she traveled to sunny Los Angeles to try her hand at acting, Leggero stumbled into the comedy world by chance. Now, it’s safe to say that she has made her mark in a mostly male dominated profession.
“I never really thought about it and I think for me it was one of those things that just kind of found me,” Leggero said about becoming a comedienne. “I saw someone I knew do it, so I had just moved to LA from New York and I didn’t really realize that it could be a young woman who talks about what they think. I always thought you had to be like Rodney Dangerfield or something or have a tagline and be like a man in a suit. I really didn’t know about female comedians, so I just happened to try it and it just went really well. After that I was like, ‘I have to keep doing this.’”
Leggero has already had a lucrative career as a comedienne appearing in numerous films and sitcoms as well as having her own Netflix special with fellow comedian Moshe Kasher, who also just happens to be her husband.
So who inspires Leggero comically?
“There are so many people who inspire me and I have so many friends who are comedians,” Leggero said. “I’ve been watching a lot of new specials that are out and I like Sarah Silverman, Tig Notaro, Bonnie McFarlane and Chelsea Peretti. Basically all of my friends are comedians, so I feel pretty lucky in that sense.”
Fans of Leggero can now see her on CBS’ new sitcom Broke. The sitcom takes place in Reseda, CA, and follows single suburban mother Jackie (portrayed by NCIS’ Pauley Perrette) who’s shocked when her estranged sister, Elizabeth (Leggero), her sister’s outrageously wealthy, big-hearted, Latin husband Javier (portrayed by Jaime Camil), and Javier’s fiercely loyal assistant/driver/friend (portrayed by Izzy Diaz) land on her doorstep in need of a place to live after the couple’s money dries up. Even though class differences may separate the women, the familiar bond of sisterhood might be the catalyst they both need to restore their relationship.
Before getting the part of Elizabeth, Leggero said she had to audition many times and feels lucky to be a part of the cast since the role of Elizabeth felt like it was written to her strengths as an actor.
“I would say she’s very much like my stage persona in a way,” Leggero said about her character. “She’s very glamorous, actually glamorous beyond her means. She was born in Reseda, but she always knew that there was more out there for her, so she got married as soon as she could. She married a guy from Mexico, who was a millionaire where they actually did fall in love, and they’ve just been living it up the past decade. Now, that the money has been cut off we basically have to go back home to Reseda and live with her family. I’m sure there’s a lot of people doing that now with the coronavirus.”
So what can viewers expect to see this season?
“Obviously it’s been quite an adjustment with everyone living with each other, but we do find a way to make it work,” Leggero said. “However, I will say that there will be some surprise visitors by people that my character does not like, so I guess I can tease that out.”
On screen, the cast seems to get along quite nicely, which is also the case when the cameras aren’t rolling.
“I had never met Pauley, but she is very cool and she’s a very generous person,” Leggero explained. “She is one of those people who sees someone on the news who needs a new wheelchair and she goes and buys it for them the next day—the nicest, highest powered wheelchair you can buy. She has a really big heart. On her birthday every year she picks a different volunteer organization to help, so she’s very inspiring in that way. I never quite met anyone like that. Jaime Camil is really so funny. I know people probably know him from Jane the Virgin, but he’s a huge star in Mexico and he’s a movie star there as well. He’s an excellent comedic actor, but he has such good timing and he looks like a Rolex model, so that helps. My husband is not very happy that I get to kiss him. Izzy Diaz is so talented and so is Antonio Corbo, who is in the cast. It’s been really fun.”
And while working on a sitcom, it’s suffice to say that there are plenty of bloopers that happen, which can sometimes be frustrating when you film in front of a live studio audience.
“The ones that I remember are usually me getting mad at Jaime because he would always laugh,” Leggero said. “It’s a multi-cam comedy, which means the audience is there, so sometimes you want to make sure that you can use the take of your best performance. That would be sometimes something I’d get frustrated with. It was always funny, but I would just get annoyed if I came out and I delivered my lines perfectly. Sometimes they would give you like an alternative line, so the second time Jaime wouldn’t even know what I was going to say. I would then say it, he would laugh and then it would ruin the take, so I was like, ‘Can I please tell you what I’m going to say so you don’t ruin the take?’ And every time he would tell me to not tell him and that he liked to be surprised and he then would laugh. It was stuff like that.”
Some might remember Leggero co-starring in Comedy Central’s Another Period as Lillian Abigail Bellacourt. The satirical comedy sitcom, which ran for three seasons, followed the opulent lives of the Bellacourts, the first family of Newport, RI, at the turn of the 20th century. Leggero created the show with her friend and fellow comedienne Riki Lindhome, who also co-starred in the show.
“It was an excellent experience,” Leggero said. “I look back and it was such a great time in my life because first of all I would walk to work and shoot at this beautiful mansion, which was up the street from my house and every day it would just be these comedic geniuses coming to set. We had the best writing staff, the best director Jeremy Konner, who directed all of them. He was a great partner that Riki and I had. My husband was in the cast, on the writing staff and then would do on-set punch ups, so we would basically come to work and the scenes that we weren’t in we were always collaborating and seeing how things could be the funniest. It was a really great learning experience and just experience in general. And also my dog got to have a starring role as Mayor Cutie.”
Leggero is also active in working with after-school programs that help kids participate in the creative arts.
“The organization that I’ve been working with I’m not sure how active it is right now because it’s an after-school program for kids because they’ve taken away all the funding for the arts,” Leggero said. “I grew up in Rockford, Illinois and it’s not that far off from Reseda, but in Rockford I was in this thing called the CAPA program, which is a creative and performing arts program, and it really gave me so much foundation to have a career in the arts. I never would have been able to do what I do now. When I look at the after-school programs now, I get so sad because these kids don’t even have that. It’s not even if you want a career in the creative arts, just even for your own mental well-being and relief. The arts are so powerful and it helps express yourself. There’s a group called LACER that I’ve also been working with and they’re specific to Los Angeles, but I do think helping the kids and the environment are important.”
So what does Leggero have planned for the rest of the year?
“Deep social distancing,” Leggero laughed. “I do have some tour dates that have been rescheduled for late fall. Right now, I’m working on a book and I also have a podcast called the Endless Honeymoon Podcast that I do with my husband and it’s kind of a spin-off from our Netflix special, which was the Endless Honeymoon Stand-Up Special and in the third act we give live relationship counseling, so we’ve been doing that with the podcast. Moshe and I will check in on our relationship and we’ve had some great guests lately. We just had Seth Rogen, Anthony Jeselnik and Chelsea Handler on and we talk to them about how their pandemic is going. Then we take calls and people are in a dark space right now, so it’s been nice calling people and talking and surprising them with our celebrity guests on the phone and people have issues they want to talk about, so I feel like we have been helping people. At the very least, we’re laughing. Anyone who wants to call in can either call us or email us at email@example.com.”
Catch Broke Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on CBS and on CBS All Access.