NU alumnus Katie Rich talks about Netflix’s new animated series SNL
For Katie Rich (Weinberg ’05), a parody Twitter account was the inspiration for her new Netflix animated series, “Chicago Party Aunt”.
“It was crazy to take something that was just jokes on Twitter and turn it into a real human being, ”Rich said. “But I like to create a world from a character perspective.”
Rich, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, was involved in theater as a student at Northwestern. After graduating, she joined The Second City, an improv comedy troupe, something she said she always wanted to do.
After three years with Second City, Rich joined Saturday Night Live as a writer for seven years, working primarily on “Weekend Update.” Today, she is the co-creator and executive producer of “Chicago Party Aunt,” which premiered on September 17th.
The idea behind “Chicago Party Aunt” came from a Twitter account created by one of Rich’s friends, poking fun at the stereotype of an older parent who is always in the mood to party. The show follows Diane Dunbrowski, a “party relic,” and her teenage nephew, Daniel, who moves in with her, as they both navigate the world with each other’s help.
Rich said she focused on finding a character’s “hurt” when considering a script. Finding the rationale behind why they lead life the way they do is the starting point for her, she said.
“In Diane’s case, it’s this fear of not being relevant – to become one of those “invisible” older women, said Rich. “And once you know that, the amount of stories you can tell is endless.”
“Chicago Party Aunt” was Rich’s first animated show, causing a learning curve. This learning curve was also made worse by COVID-19, which disrupted the team’s creative process. Over 80% of the show was created remotely, but she said it was an escape from reality when the outside world became isolating.
Rich is currently working on the second half of Season 1 of “Chicago Party Aunt” and has just finished creating a Super Bowl commercial. She also stated that she is in the process of developing a new animated series.
One of Rich’s close friends, Susan Messing (Communication ’86), said she admires Rich’s belief in everything she does.
“I admire her humor, her loyalty… I admire everything about her,” Messing said. “She also has this ability to take a joke and turn it into a fully realized sitcom, which she did.
Another friend of Rich’s, Pete Schultz, echoed Messing’s sentiments. Schultz is the head writer for “Weekend Update” on SNL and said he met Rich when she joined their editorial team on the recommendation of actor Cecily Strong, who was Rich’s former understudy at Second City.
While most of the other writers quietly worked on their projects, Schultz said Rich always brings energy and joy to the writers’ room.
“Besides being very funny and having the best laugh… Katie was first and foremost a performer and has a very effervescent personality, ”said Schultz. “If you’re in a shell she won’t let you stay there, which I really appreciated. She brought all the staff together and we spent a lot more time chatting as a group once she got on board.
Schultz said he was watching “Chicago Party Aunt,” calling her “the essence of Katie” because of the show’s energy, creativity, and personality.
Ultimately, Rich said she enjoys doing what she does and the variety that comes with her job every day.
“Every day is different and it really keeps me going, ”said Rich. “I also had the chance to always be part of a team. Even at SNL, I worked mainly on Weekend Update, so we had our little show in a show. And what we can create as a team is infinitely better than what we can create on our own. “
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