Still from Obvious Child, courtesy of A24. Jenny Slate. Photography by Jessica Chou.

Jenny Slate On Post-Breakup Outfits, 'Light Stalking'

BY Jessica Chou | Wed. June 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM | Culture Club
If there’s anyone who knows exactly how to get that dirt off her shoulder, it’s Jenny Slate. After a single season on Saturday Night Live (and accidentally swearing on live television), Slate moved on to create the adorably self-aware, one-eyed Marcel the Shell in a series of stop-motion videos. You might know her as Mona-Lisa on Parks and Recreation, or Sarah Guggenheim on House of Lies. But the comedian is mostly known for her confessional standup, and now, as Donna Stern, the hapless, hilarious lead in Gillian Robespierre’s “abortion comedy,” Obvious Child (out this Friday).

As Donna, Jenny gets brutally dumped, drunkenly dances during a one-night stand, takes a pregnancy test, and finds herself figuring out whether to tell her one-night stand about her upcoming abortion. But, of course, real-life Jenny is hardly a Donna. “She needs boundaries that she doesn’t have yet, and I’ve always been aware of those boundaries,” Jenny says.

We caught up with the Los Angeles-based comedian as she sipped tea to cure herself of a cold, asking her about the best post-breakup cures, and what exactly “light stalking” is.

JESSICA CHOU: So Donna gets brutally dumped at the beginning of the movie. What’s your method for getting over a breakup?
I think the key to it is self-care, you know? Sequestering yourself with people who love you and people who will ferociously take your side. Donna gets dumped, like pretty mercilessly dumped. She kind of thinks it’s her fault because she talked about him on stage, but when it comes down to it, he cheated on her and he’s an asshole, and he dumped her. So, why romantic comedies are so satisfying is because you get to see the woman in her recuperation process, focusing on herself, you know. She gets a new, short haircut or whatever, goes away to her fun aunt’s house, and just chills out.

What would be your post-breakup outfit?
A good pair of high-waisted, tight jeans that show off your ass [are] a great power tool. Donna does not do that: she goes completely the other way and sort of disintegrates before getting her shit together. But for me, yeah, I have a really tight pair of high-waisted Courtshop jeans and I like the way they make my butt look like a big ‘ole heart. I feel really loud and proud when I wear those jeans.

So you would tell Donna to get those jeans.
Yeah, get your ass into those jeans; get that juicy ass out there into the streets.

What’s your favorite pickup method?
Well, I’m married now, and I was actually pretty shy with guys. I remember when my husband and I had been on three dates and he still hadn’t kissed me, my best approach was just to be honest about it. We were standing outside the bar, which was closed, and it was raining, and there was nothing left to say. Like, are we going home together or separately? And, I said, “Well, I don’t know what to do here… we’re both so shy.” Just call it out.

The movie mentions “light stalking.” What exactly is that?
There’s a line in the movie where Donna is out just staring at her ex-boyfriend’s door and he comes out with his new girlfriend and they have a dog. And Gaby Hoffmann’s character asks Donna, “What are you doing?” And she says, “Oh, I’m just out doing some light stalking.”

That’s definitely heavy stalking.
Yeah, it’s definitely somewhere between heavy and light. In college, I had boyfriends who dumped me and I would want them to see me in my new outfit or whatever, which sounds so pathetic, but I guess I used to do it. I would know their class schedule and just kind of be like, reading a book by the quad or whatever, when I knew they would be walking by. That’s some light stalking right there.

And you would be wearing your high-waisted jeans.
Of course. Well, it was the early 2000s, so they were like, low-rider Diesels. Those have gone by the wayside. My style in college was a combination of Shakira and Erykah Badu. Lots of midriffs, headscarves, and bell-bottoms.

What’s one thing every 20-something should do?
Give yourself a break. You’re not supposed to know everything. That’s what I suffered from: anxiety thinking I needed to have everything in gear. Give yourself a break. There’s plenty of time to get your shit together.

Obvious Child opens June 6