It would be safe to say Jenny Slate is well-known. A New York Times bestselling children’s author, actress with screen and film credits both indie and blockbuster, and a comedian who, since her tenure on Saturday Night Live, has performed widely. In 2019, roughly two weeks after Netflix premiered her hybrid stand-up special meets mini-documentary Stage Fright – her sort-of memoir, Little Weirds, was released. Between the two, it seems if Slate was known, she was asking to be known better.
Over the phone, Slate on a long drive across the east coast, me in my living room in Melbourne, I ask her what she intended to create with Little Weirds, a 240-page collection of odd and lovely vignettes. ‘‘I’m not sure exactly what I intended to write except for that I intended to write something.’’
Crafted in the wake of a divorce, the divisive 2016 US Presidential election, and the #MeToo movement, Little Weirds jumps from hallucinatory, wild prose to furious commentary on misogyny, then right back to poetic musings on making a sardine sandwich.
With the psychic pain of heartbreak and the absurdity of the realities of being a modern woman at the heart of both Stage Fright and Little Weirds, Slate agrees her work can be both sad and sweet: ‘‘I tend to often be fascinated by or fixated on the ways in which things can be both mighty and melancholy, ways in which there can be sorrow without pessimism.’’