Molly Shannon was not afraid to throw herself on a pile of metal chairs on “Saturday Night Live” like the overzealous Catholic schoolgirl Mary Katherine Gallagher, who longed to become a “superstar”. In real life, Shannon is not afraid to be serious either.
“I find it almost more exhausting to have to be ‘on’ all the time, like doing talk shows where you have to tell these funny anecdotes,” Shannon says in an interview promoting her new book, “Hey, Molly! ” (Ecco, 304 p., Out now).
“I like to be serious and genuine,” Shannon says. “As my friend John C. Reilly says, ‘You can be dead serious.’ I think some comedians push people away, but I do not like that. I like to feel close and connect with people and share things to connect. “
“Hey, Molly!” begins with a car accident in the summer of 1969 that cost Shannon’s mother, Peggy Keating, her 25-year-old cousin, Fran, and her 3-year-old sister, Katie, their lives. Shannon was just 4 at the time. Her father, Jim Shannon, who had been drinking for today’s party in honor of a family member’s high school diploma, drove the two hours home.
“There’s no way of knowing exactly what happened that night, though my gut feeling tells me he fell asleep at the wheel,” writes Shannon, now 57. “But would he have fallen asleep without drinking? It holds me still awake at night. Sometimes, but in the end, the only thing that matters is that it changed our lives forever. “
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Shannon tells that USA TODAY, writing the book made her “dig deep”. She looked at the site of the crash on Google Maps for the first time.
“I just never wanted to think about it,” she says. “People say, ‘Oh, was (writing the memoirs) heartbreaking?’ And I think, ‘No, I’d already worked so much of it into therapy.’ But then, honestly, yes, it was catharsis! “It was heartbreaking to discover that.”
In her memoirs, Shannon remembers the first time she elicited laughter from a group – by announcing to a friend’s mother, who served chicken cacciatore, that she would “get the chicken, but I do not want any of the cacciatore.” documents the time spent developing his craft at NYU, the origins of the famous “SNL” characters Mary Katherine Gallagher and Sally O’Malley. From her personal life, she shares the story of staying with her husband of nearly 18 years, artist Fritz Chesnut, and how she turned a towed car into an adventure for her children, Stella Shannon Chesnut and Nolan Shannon Chesnut, when they were young. They are now 18 and 17, respectively.
Shannon also writes about the relationship with her father, a man who had his flaws – at times he could be quick-witted and he struggled with alcoholism – but which she wholeheartedly adored. He came out to his daughter in 2001, just months before he died in 2002.
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“He really was like my biggest supporter,” says Molly Shannon. “He was like, ‘Look, you’re marching into the offices of those agents and Hollywood managers and just saying,’ Hey! Hold the phone! I have talent! ‘ And then he said, ‘And use your singing voice.’ That was his advice. ”
Shannon made his “SNL” debut in 1995 and stayed for six seasons. But the success she enjoyed on NBC’s sketch show also brought some grief for a while.
“I had been driven to achieve, achieve, achieve,” she says, “and I ran and worked so hard on my show, trying to do it, do it, do it, and then finally, when I get on ‘SNL’ and I get Mary Katherine on, and people (shout) ‘Molly!’ They know my name and they come to me on the street.I fell into a depression for a few months because I thought, ‘The one person I really want to tell me I’m good and say she’s is proud of me is my mother and this does not bring her back. “
The realization gave Shannon the freedom to enjoy her work without feeling the need to be on top. “You can just enjoy being creative, life as an artist, doing what you love, pursuing your passions,” she says. “It gave me a very healthy perspective on fame and what it means, and I carry that with me to this day.”
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Shannon decided to leave “SNL” not to follow in the footsteps of those who have used it as a career start, but to focus on his personal life.
“I was so happy that I had come so far that I could have stopped there,” she says. “I could have frozen myself and been happy with life and gone back to working in restaurants. It far exceeded my expectations, so I thought, ‘A springboard?’ I’ve never seen it that way. I thought, “This is the best job in show business!”
Shannon adds, “I knew I always wanted children because I lost my mother. I wanted to get married.”
Years later, Shannon’s desire to suck into motherhood motivates her to keep her workload manageable. She stars alongside Vanessa Bayer and Jenifer Lewis in Showtime’s “I Love That for You,” which debuted on April 29, playing a home sales network bestseller. Shannon also appears as a popular talk show host and mother on HBO Max’s “The Other Two.”
“My kids are teenagers and I really want to enjoy this time because I feel like I’ll never get it back,” Shannon says. “So I actually do not want to do that much and I do not want to go out that much. I just want to be there and enjoy my kids before they go to college.”
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