The Daily Show correspondent Desi Lydic spoke with Solzy at the Movies about the Emmy-nominated Desi Lydic Foxsplains.
Lydic is currently nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series. Final-round online voting for this years Emmy Awards will begin on August 12 and will run through August 22 at 10 PM.
It’s been a few years since we last spoke at SXSW 2019. How are you doing?
Desi Lydic: I’m doing great. I was just thinking that. I think last time I saw you we were at the Presidential Twitter Library, right?
Desi Lydic: Yeah. Hey, I got no complaints these days. I’m happy. How are you?
I’m hanging in there. It’s been a lot of rewatching of classics for comfort.
Desi Lydic: Amen. I just went on a binge of all of these 90s movies that anything Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers—I watched Private Benjamin recently, Baby Boom. I was going through that hole. I just felt it’s comforting. A little bit comforting during these times.
Congrats on your first Emmy nomination! How honored are you?
Desi Lydic: Thank you! Yeah, it’s still very strange to hear that but I’m trying to go with it and enjoy it. I’m over the moon. It’s nuts, totally nuts.
The Vaccine Mandates episode was submitted for Emmy consideration. What was it about this episode that you really enjoyed doing?
Desi Lydic: I think at the time that we shot that one, there was just so much narrative around the vaccines. There were a lot of conspiracy theories from the right-wing media. I think because we let it percolate for a little bit at the time that we did it, we had quite the collection of absurd conspiracy theories that we somehow figured out a way of heightening even more. It resonated with our audience in a way that that I think hopefully felt a little comforting for them, too.
How quickly do the scripts come together?
Desi Lydic: Fast, very fast. I think this is just kind of the nature of us being a daily show. But generally, what happens is, we have a couple of producers that are appointed to this specific series. They’ll keep an eye on stories that are happening, certain narratives that tend to be recurring on Fox News, an event—whether it’s January 6 or the vaccines or Ketanji Brown Jackson—whatever it is, some narrative. Once they figure out, Okay, here’s something we should dive into, then they’ll start making notes of what they’re hearing on Fox News. They assemble the beginning of a script. We send it off to a writing team who punch it up and throw a second draft together and send it back. Our producers Ramin Hedayati and Matt Negrin will go through it again and kind of shape it, punch it up, and they’ll send it to me. All of this might happen in the course of one day, sometimes two. But usually within a day and they send me the script about 30 minutes before we record it. It is rapid fire. Thank G-d for our editor.
I watched a lot of them this week and for going through all that in a day and have it a half hour before, it’s unbelievable. I couldn’t tell.
Desi Lydic: I have to say acting-wise, I think it helps me get into that zone. There’s a very specific frequency that Fox News personalities have. It’s a very high frequency fueled on paranoia, adrenaline, and maybe a little horse tranquilizer. It helps get me in that space to be sort of extra tense, get in to that woman on the verge vibe.
How did the whole Foxsplaining the news come about?
Desi Lydic: When I auditioned for the show, almost seven years ago now, part of the audition process is we do a piece that that the writers have written and then we also write our own piece. The piece that I wrote for myself was very much in that Fox News personality. She was some version of a heightened at the time Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson. I auditioned with something that was very specifically in that lane, thinking this could be my contribution to the show. Of course, that was seven years ago. It helped me get the show but then everything changed when Trump became president. It felt like for me to consistently be in that lane of a Fox News personality was too limiting. Thank G-d that’s not the only thing that I was able to do.
As the years were going on, we were trying to figure out ways that we could go hard at Fox News because we’re hearing all these narratives. We wanted to satirize it but in a way that didn’t necessarily betray my correspondent character that’s also talking about Roe v Wade being overturned or issues where I’m a little more earnest. During the pandemic was when we came up with this. A couple of couple of writers and producers came up with this idea that I could be sitting in front of my iPhone and a ring light in my house, and I have just binge watched inhumane amount of Fox News, and that is why I’m sort of regurgitating all of this information. It gave us permission for me to actually embody the mania and the incoherent narrative in a way that felt like I could still go and do other things that I also get to do on the show.
At what point does satire come very close to misinformation?
Desi Lydic: Entirely too frequently. I will say we always figure out a way to heighten and occasionally, after putting out a Foxsplains, where we think this is complete lunacy, it can’t get any wackier than this way that we’ve heightened it—we have heard the exact same thing said by a right-wing news personality. I think it was in one of the episodes, as part of some conspiracy, I said MLB is just BLM backwards. Within a week or two, Eric Bolling, I think it is, on OAN and he used to be on Fox News, said that very same thing. We’re like, What? Are we even going to be able to heighten it beyond or have they caught up to where we are? I don’t know. It’s constantly a challenge. We’ll see how long we can get away with this.
Desi Lydic: Yes, yes. Unfortunately, it hits a little close, sometimes.
What have been some of the challenges in making this series during the pandemic, especially in those early months, where you all were not even at the studio?
Desi Lydic: Right? Yeah, we were all completely working from home. We were trying to figure out. It can be tough with low production to figure out how to shoot something in an interesting and dynamic way with an iPhone and a ring light. I’ve got a six-year-old who’s running around, popping into frame, and needing my attention. My husband’s doing work calls in the kitchen. We were juggling a lot but thankfully, this was a series where it kind of worked in that environment. It’s almost like this woman is so far deep, she has got to get all of this out of her mouth in the next minute and a half. She doesn’t have the time to go into a studio. We figured out a way of creatively justifying it. But man, I mean, in those early days of shooting from home, it was all hands on deck. My husband was holding camera sometimes and on his lunch break. We were grabbing my son’s scooter to tide the camera on and use it for a dolly shot. I had to bribe my kid with candy. Meanwhile, my husband’s on a work call and I’m shouting obscenities into the camera like Judge Jeanine and he’s like, it’s just my wife. It’s just her job. She’s not really like that. It’s a bit of a juggle.
Now that you’re nominated, are there any plans to Foxsplain the Emmys?
Desi Lydic: That’s a great idea. I did not think about that but that is a great idea. Yeah, maybe. I think we should do a very special installment for award season. Can I steal it from you? (Laughs) We’ll give you credit.
I am a comedy writer.
Desi Lydic: Yes!
I moved here for improv!
Desi Lydic: Where did you go?
I studied at Second City.
Desi Lydic: That’s right. Okay. I never did Second City. I did Groundlings and then I did IO, which is no longer there. Second City is still there, right?
Yeah. Second City is still here are although iO Chicago is reopening under different management.
Desi Lydic: Got it. Okay. Yeah. Oh, man.
It’s been a weird few years. I used to get out to shows when I could, when I didn’t have press screenings to go to or out of town for film fests. With the pandemic and all that, I’m still not quite at that level where I want to be around large crowds at least now with this new variant and sub-variants going around.
Desi Lydic: I totally understand. I know. We have the same thought process. You’ve got to kind of pick and choose which events you decide to dive into. I know. You’re playing at smart.
I did get meet Roy Wood Jr. and CJ Hunt back in December when I was in New York for a week.
Desi Lydic: Yeah! Oh, CJ. Was that the first time you met CJ?
In person, yes. I had interviewed him over Zoom for The Neutral Ground.
Desi Lydic: Yeah.
I just happened to be in New York for a full week because of CCA events and CJ messaged me over Twitter, inviting me to the screening. Of course, I had plans to attend another film that day but I was able to stop by before the Q & A screening and got to meet him, Roy, and got to hang out for a bit.
Desi Lydic: Oh, we were there! I I don’t know if it was on the same day. They might have had a couple of days of screenings but we might have been there at the same time. The movie was incredible.
This was the Park Avenue theatre screening that Sunday.
Desi Lydic: Never mind, this was different. Ours was along the river. The one that I went to was along the Hudson. It’s a phenomenal film, CJ was a segment director here and just one of my favorite guys to work with. He’s so talented.
It was so great catching up with you.
Desi Lydic: It’s so great to see you. I’ll see you on the next one.
Good luck at the Emmys!
Desi Lydic: Thanks, Danielle. Take care. I’ll talk to you soon.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah airs weeknights at 11 PM ET/10 PM CT on Comedy Central. The 74th Emmy Awards will be broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater on Monday, Sept. 12, (8:00-11:00 PM EDT/5:00-8:00 PM PDT) on NBC and will stream live for the first time on Peacock. The 2022 Creative Arts Emmy Awards will take place at the Microsoft Theater over two consecutive nights on Saturday, Sept. 3, and Sunday, Sept. 4. An edited presentation will be aired Saturday, Sept. 10, at 8:00 PM EDT/PDT on FXX.
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