‘Hacks’ breakout star megstalter finds parts of herself in the hilarious, yet delusional characters she portrays. “When you make fun of someone, you’re making fun of the part of them that’s like you,” she says. Keep reading, here:
The comedian and actress spun her Instagram bits into gold during lockdown. Now, she’s getting her moment.
where she portrays a deranged realtor (“That one’s haunted. That one’s haunted. That one’s not haunted, but someone died on the lawn.”). Chances are, if you spent late pandemic nights doom-scrolling, you happened upon one of her character videos in which she’s mocking corporations' performative Pride celebrations
,or pretending she’s a liquored-up mom having a good Mother’s Day. Stalter quickly became synonymous with her desperate, clueless and (often) Midwestern characters.Living in a handful of Midwestern suburbs and cities, in fact, has helped foster Stalter's brand of comedy. At this point, she has been “around every kind of person.” And while they might be different people with nuanced personalities and dissimilar life experiences, the comedian has found parts of herself within them all. “Most of my characters are really delusional, confident, but secretly very nervous, and I think that's part of who I am,” she says. “When you make fun of someone, you’re making fun of the part of them that’s like you.”
It’s a technique that's apparent in her scene-stealing role as Kayla onHacks, a series about the complex mentorship between an aging Las Vegas comic and a young comedy outcast. While Kayla is a nepotistic, inept assistant to a talent agent (Paul W. Downs), it’s impossible not to be endeared to the misguided character: There’s a sparkle of unbridled joy and chaos in Kayla’s inflection, she rocks aqua eyeshadow, is consistently unprofessional, and excitedly bursts into Instagram caption-ready phrases like “Bitch, you got this, bitch!” When Stalter read the script, she knew she had to get the part. For her, the role “felt natural.” If Kayla seems eerily similar to Stalter’s bits, that’s no coincidence—the headtopics.com
Hacksstar was encouraged to put her own flourishes on the character. “What I was improvising and what they wrote were so similar that I can't even remember what line was already written,” she says. “If I said every line that was in the script, it would still look like I made it up.” Since portraying Kayla, Stalter has become increasingly aware of how relatable her character is. “So many times, people have come up to me and been like, ‘Oh my god, I had an assistant like that’ or ‘Everybody works with someone like Kayla,’” she notes. For her, characters are the funniest “when they feel so real.” “That’s why I think people like Kayla,” Stalter adds. “She’s saying something insane, but she’s relatable.” With the success of
Hacks, Stalter hopes that season 2 will come with some more unhinged storylines for Kayla. “I’ve been pitching [that] I hope she has a bunch of male model boyfriends,” she says.In the meantime, Stalter has gradually begun taking her stand-up routine on the road again. After more than a year with no IRL audience, “being able to perform again feels like drugs.” She’s also been able to experience firsthand how much her comedy connected people throughout the year. “There’s a group of young adults in a Twitter group with me who just have been watching [my] Instagram Lives, and they all flew out to go to the New York show, and we went to dinner,” Stalter says.
Beyond stand-up, Stalter’s ambitions for her acting career are seemingly limitless. While the lines between reality and fantasy may exist on her Instagram and onHacks Read more: W magazine »
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