Molly Shannon

Molly Shannon, the subject of this week’s 20 Questions, has had a long career in comedy. She hit it big in 1995 when she joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” where she most famously played Mary Katherine Gallagher. She left the show in 2001 but played Gallagher in the 1999 movie “Superstar”; she also had a supporting role in “Never Been Kissed.”

This week she came to Capitol Hill as a spokeswoman for Life Insurance Awareness Month and attended an event sponsored by the Life Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to education on life, health, disability and long-term care insurance.

Shannon lives in Manhattan.

You’re here at the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education. Why are you so interested in this issue?
When I was 4, I was in an automobile accident that killed my mother, my cousin and my sister. At that time my mom didn’t have life insurance. It was emotional hardship for our family. It’s amazing that it comes full circle and that I was able to become an actress and make a living and now come and tell the story.

Is insurance a good deal?
Yes. For about a dollar a day, most plans offer up to $500,000 in coverage. That’s less than a cup of coffee.

Do you have life insurance?
I have two kids, and right after I gave birth to my first I immediately bought life insurance. I [thought], God forbid, [but if] anything should happen I would really want my kids [and] my husband to be taken care of.

Do you vote?  
I did vote.

Do you think Congress is doing a good job?
I’m not so politically active, so I don’t think I could give really good answers [to that.]

Who do you think should be our next president?
 I don’t know whom I’m going to vote for … But it’s going to be a very exciting election.

Who would Mary Katherine Gallagher cheer for?
Oh, she’d probably like a woman. I’ll say Hillary Clinton. Yeah, she’d want a strong woman.

What politicians do you like to make fun of? Do you do any impressions?
I did an impression of Monica Lewinsky for a long time.

If you could be one politician, who would it be and why?
I don’t think I’d be good at that.

Have you ever met any of the candidates?
I’ve met Hillary. [The Clintons] had “Saturday Night Live” people perform for them [at the White House] and they were really nice … “Saturday Night Live” is so connected. We’re always invited to the White House. So we went and we met Tim Russert and all of the news people. I brought my dad and he was over the moon with happiness … Everyone was so nice.

Any others?
I’ve never met Barack Obama. [I met Rudy] Giuliani because he hosted “SNL” … I did a Mary Katherine Gallagher sketch with him. That’s all.

Have you contributed to any of the presidential candidates?
No.

What do you think of the Larry Craig sex scandal?
This morning I heard that he was going to claim that he really didn’t do anything. Who knows? I wasn’t there, but yeah, it doesn’t sound good.

The Funniest Celebrity in Washington contest is coming up here soon. Do you have any advice for the contestants?
That is so funny … Well, it’s similar to acting in [the] way that they have to appeal to the public and they have to be outgoing. [Sen. Ben] Nelson’s [D-Neb.] speech today was so funny. He’s good. He’s giving me a run for my money with all his little jokes in his speech. Good luck, everybody.

What was it like to work with Will Ferrell?
He’s so great. He’s a dear friend and he is a very genuine person. He’s not the kind of guy that’s always on or anything. Just when he’s being himself, he is very observant [and] in daily life he’ll really study people. He’s just quietly observant, but he’s a really genuine person and a really kind person. Just sweet.

Any good stories?
When we were on “SNL” years ago, before he got really famous, we were sitting in our office. He got really dark and depressed [and asked], “What if animation just takes over and they won’t have a need for live performers anymore?” And I [said], “Will, I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.” [But] he of all people was worried and he has like the biggest career … He said if that happened he could just be a teacher or he could just move to a farm and drive a truck or a tractor. I think he had, like, a backup plan. It was so cute.

What’s his background like?
He comes from a great family. His dad played with the Righteous Brothers, his brother Pat is just a really smart, funny guy and his mom’s a teacher … Will was really nice to my dad and I’m friends with his wife. They’re great.

What are your favorite D.C. hangouts?
All I’ve been doing is working. I haven’t even had a minute to go around D.C. And then I have to fly out today to go back to my kids.

Have you been to any great restaurants here yet?
My sister went to Mount Vernon College … and she used to live near Dupont Circle, but it was so many years ago that I don’t really remember.

Where do you stay when you’re in Washington?
I’m staying at the Hilton. All I did was go in my hotel, order room service. I watched that new show on HBO called “Tell Me You Love Me.” It was very risqué. It was good, but it’s about all these couples, [and] it’s very sexual. I was like, “Wow.”


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