Monday, June 20, 2011

A Glee-ful Jane Lynch at BEA

Jane Lynch at BEA

Jane Lynch is one of the funniest actors working today. Her role in Christopher Guest's movie Best In Show stands out in a movie filled with great performances. Most people know her as the crazy cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester, on TV's Glee. She's about to add author to her list of accomplishments when her memoir, Happy Accidents, publishes in September.

She spoke at the Book Expo in May to a standing room only crowd. She bounded out onto the stage, full of enthusiasm and smiles, which she displayed throughout her talk, wandering the stage, waving her arms, squatting at the end of the stage, moving as close to the audience as she could get.

She began by stating that this has been a good year for her: she got married "to a lady- cause I'm gay, I have a daughter and I turned 50". All this got her thinking about her life, and she put it down on paper.

Her wife is a scientist and deals in facts, while Lynch searches for answers anywhere, (astrology, etc). She says that she has a single minded focus, which has helped her in her career.

Growing up, she always felt "outside of her Irish/Catholic family". She loved TV, and while watching The Brady Bunch as a child, she knew she wanted to act. She sent a letter to the casting agent for the show, and got a response saying they did not cast from letters. Lynch actually ended up with a professional connection to The Brady Bunch: she worked on the comedic stage parody of The Brady Bunch, playing Carol in the Chicago show.

Lynch said that if asked what she would tell her younger self, it would be "to stay open and say yes to everything." She laughed as she said that her agent says "Jane will do anything for $1.50 and a steak".

After studying at Cornell University, Lynch ended up at Second City in Chicago. It was the only acting callback she got, and she thought she would find improv "unsettling- I like rules", she said. But she found being in an ensemble "perfect for my skill set" and ended up in the Second City touring company. It was one of her "happy accidents".

Someone asked about her initial reaction to the role of Sue Sylvester in Glee, and Lynch knew "it was great right away". She loved that in the first episode Sue was described that "she may or may not have posed for Penthouse and may or may not have taken horse estrogen". She loves that everything that Sue does is extreme.

She was asked about her singing in Glee, and she said that she "sings all day. But that doesn't mean that I'm good or that people like it." She spoke of her girlhood crush on Olivia Newton-John, and what a thrill it was to sing Let's Get Physical with her on the show. She also is pleased to call childhood idol Carol Burnett her friend, now that Burnett plays her Nazi-hunting mother on Glee.

An audience member mentioned the PSA commercial about using the 'r-word' that Lynch did with the actress who plays Becky, Sue's assistant/cheerleader who has Down's syndrome. Everyone applauded loudly, and Lynch is very proud to have done that. She spoke of working with Lauren Potter, the actress who plays Becky, and Robin Trocki, the actress who played her sister who had Down's syndrome. The relationships Sue have with her sister and Becky keep Sue from being nothing but a caricature, and Lynch does a marvelous job with the role.

Lynch acted bored and whipped out her Macbook to "check her email" during the Q&A, which garnered another laugh. She said she decides which project to do next based on "who's in it and what's to eat at craft services. " The best question asked "was which famous person would Lynch like to portray?" It is Eleanor Roosevelt's lover, Lorena Hickock.

Jane Lynch signed autographs following her talk, and she was gracious and vivacious; she's at a good point in her life, and she's happy to share her joy with all.


  1. She was on Bill Maher last week and did this bit about the Weiner scandal which was laugh out loud funny (although pretty off color!)

  2. I haven't seen that one yet- I heard it was hysterical!