Meet Eli Clark ’07,
playwright, web star, shish kebab…
Hometown Darien, Conn.
Favorite soup Creamy tomato bisque or creamy lobster bisque. Really anything with creamy or bisque in the title. Creamy chocolate bisque … I’d eat it.
favorite drink name I know you’re going for an alcoholic drink, but I’ve got to say Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. It’s like saying diet chocolate cayenne cinnamon something. Those flavors just don’t go together.
Favorite megafauNa I know you’re going for an alcoholic drink, but I’ve got to say Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. It’s like saying diet chocolate cayenne cinnamon something. Those flavors just don’t go together.
QSince graduating Yale two years ago you have been doing improv, a Web sitcom and your own independent playwriting. Which are you most proud of?
AI’m most proud of my play that went up last summer. I was working with people that I really love. And we raised all the money ourselves. It was like a crash course in the business. That was the best and toughest part.
QHow do you know the people that you work with?
AWell, my director, the lovely Lila Neugebauer [’07], is one of my closest friends from Yale. And a lot of actors I met from Yale auditioned. And of course non-Yale actors, too. I’ve met a lot of cool new people in New York. Like, I’m in a writing group called Youngblood, and they’re all insanely talented people. All my friends are really talented. My boyfriend Jeremy [’06] is really talented. So yeah, I work with them.
Q Your Web sitcom is called “Inconvenient Molly” (inconvenientmolly.com). Why?
AWe were playing off the documentary format; you know, like “An Inconvenient Truth.” First we called it “An Inconvenient Molly,” but then that looked weird on the Web site. And then this looked good on the Web site, so yeah. And I think it fits the character. She’s sort of inconvenient in a lot of ways.
QWhat do you see happening with “Inconvenient Molly”?
AI really love it, and I’m really proud of it. I think it’s more for fun than for recognition. If we were really trying to get it bought, it would be shorter. The second season would definitely have shorter episodes. I’m just really looking forward to the episode where Molly and George hook up; it’s gonna be really awkward. Haha. Don’t write that. Haha.
QWhere do you get ideas for your plays or sitcom?
ALately, a new play I’m working on — and the last play I wrote — they’re very dark and about apocalyptic worlds just like our own but a little cockeyed. I’ve become very interested in the sci-fi genre and geek stuff. “Inconvenient Molly,” on the other hand, is based on everyone I know. It’s sort of about me a little bit, this character who is totally absurd and someone trying to make a life in the entertainment industry.
QDo you have a side job?
AI am a nanny to a very adorable and awesome 10-year-old old boy from South Africa. And I teach an improv group of 10-year-olds in Park Slope in Brooklyn. This improv group is called, well, the kids are trying to decide between “David Hasselhoff and the Shish Kebabs” and “The Lightbulbs.” I vote “David Hasselhoff and the Shish Kabobs,” obviously. It’s a fun group. All 10-year-old boys and one girl.
QWomen in comedy. Your thoughts?
AI wrote a scene column when I was at Yale about a “Vanity Fair” article called “Why Women Aren’t Funny.” Basically, people don’t think women are funny because of a lot of reasons, but they’re usually stupid reasons. Being funny is just about letting go of inhibitions, and women have a lot of inhibitions about making themselves look stupid. But I think Mindy Kaling and Jennifer Celotta who write for “The Office” are hilarious. When I watch Tina Fey, I’m sitting on the edge of my seat. And I think Sarah Palin is the greatest comedian of our time. One of the hardest things about being in a group that isn’t widely accepted as part of something — like a woman in comedy — is falling into that [way of thinking]. If I think too hard about women in comedy, I cannot be funny. But there are some extremely funny women out there.
QWho is your audience? Who do you write for?
AMy parents. They’re the only people that I can really count on. I just joined this writing group [Youngblood], and the first Sunday of every month, there’s a brunch with an open bar of Bloody Marys and food, and my parents love it, and they can get back in time to watch football games. But mostly I write things I think I would like to watch, so I end up with stories about 23-year-old women who love lobster bisque.
QHow has experience doing improv comedy — both at Yale and with friends in New York — influenced your work?
AI had a really good time. I love the VQ, love Madam [www.myspace.com/madamcomedy]. I loved the people I met. You meet people that challenge you to be better. For me, in doing Madam or VQ, it was all about thinking: What can I do to make Jocelyn or Justin laugh? I still think that way.
QHow has Yale influenced your work?
AThe Playwrights Festival was one of my most formative experiences in college. Working with Deb [Margolin], Toni [Dorfman], [Donald] Margulies on my plays. Working with Richard Nelson, getting feedback from people who are so talented themselves and so astute. Yale made me feel like I was actually a writer and could actually be one. Oh and Master Miller is the greatest. She found out I was directing “Uncommon Women” — my first time directing at Yale — and invited the playwright Wendy Wasserstein to come talk to us! So I got to know her [Wasserstein] before she passed away. Master Miller … it’s really funny she’s dean; I think she’s great.
QAny advice for Yalies entering entertainment?
AThe thing that I live by, if you really want to do it, just find a way to do it. Amy Poehler is quoted as saying, “Anything you want to do is going to take 10 years.” So many people want to be successful right out of college, but you have to wait. I think that’s especially hard for Yale people. Don’t give up. If you interviewed someone from Goldman Sachs it’d be different.