As hilarious “Saturday Night Live” character Bobbie Moughan-Culp, viewers will recall an off-key, shrill singing voice coming from actress Ana Gasteyer, as music teacher husband Will Ferrell’s ultra-nerd Marty Culp accompanied her on keyboards.
Expect something totally different when the multi-talented Gasteyer takes the stage at the Manship Theatre Friday night.
“It’s really a throwback ‘entertainers era’ night of jazz, and because it’s me, we try to keep it light and fun and funny,” Gasteyer said last week from her home in Brooklyn, New York. “There are no characters. It’s not really a variety show so much as just a good-time gal with a band beltin’ it out. It’s kind of a contemporary version of one of those throw-backy jazz shows.”
Although most known for her six-year stint (1996-2002) on the longtime NBC sketch comedy “SNL,” the 48-year-old Gasteyer’s also had musical roles on Broadway and in national touring productions, as well as comedic gigs on TV series “The Goldbergs” and “Suburgatory,” and feature films “Mean Girls” and “What Women Want,” among others. Just last month, she played Principal McGee on Fox’s “Grease: Live.”
“I’ve always been into it (music),” she said. “I have two distinct branches to my career: I have a comedienne’s resumé, and then I’ve done quite a few shows on Broadway and traditional musical theater, and I love playing those roles when I’m behind the cover of ‘the fourth wall’ so to speak. But when it comes to doing my own act, I wanted to find something that felt a little more personal.”
Think an intimate 1940s nightclub, Gasteyer in maybe a slinky black dress, flower in her hair, backed by a swing band. She’s belting out tunes like “One Mint Julep,” “Proper Cup of Coffee” and, wait, what’s that? Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”?
“That has been a really satisfying song,” she said of her cover of the 2005 country/pop hit. “I love a story song first of all, and I love a song with any kind of emotional intention, and that makes for a great song lyrically, and I do listen to lyrics and I care about them.
“I have to say it’s been particularly fun to perform that down South because I think that song is so well-known and well-loved there.”
For a recent swing through this region, Gasteyer’s children — 13-year-old Frances, and Ulysses, 9 — tagged along.
“They were on winter break last week, so we hopped around the South together,” she said. “It was really fun. Spent a couple of days in Memphis, then went down to St. Petersburg/Tampa, then drove up through Florida to Tallahassee and spent a day there. It was nice.”
The Valentine’s night Tallahassee show was her most recent. The actress/singer said she schedules her jazz shows far enough apart that she’s able to go back home to Brooklyn to spend time with the kids and husband, advertising agency executive Charles McKittrick.
A band travels with her, although Gasteyer does hire a few local musicians when she arrives in a concert city.
“Especially in places like Baton Rouge, where there’s so many excellent musicians,” she said. “And then I bring my musical director and we rehearse there.”
No doubt they’ll be running through numbers from her 2014 CD, “I’m Hip.” Gasteyer has freshened up the 1965 lyrics to the Dave Frishberg title track.
“I live in Brooklyn and that song’s obviously an old cabaret favorite and a kind of self-aware, ironic lyric that I’ve always related to,” Gasteyer said. “But I do live in Brooklyn, and I’m surrounded by the hippest of the hip.
“It made me laugh,” she said of putting her spin on the song made popular by Blossom Dearie.
And although it’s an evening of music, there will be plenty of laughs, Gasteyer said.
“I’m not a very serious person, so it would be hard to avoid that (humor),” she said. “I do tell quite a few personal stories. It’s a musical act with comedy, I guess I would say.
“… Jazz means a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me, the style of jazz that I love the most, it lends itself to a lot of comedy, a lot of improvisation, it’s musically really collaborative,” Gasteyer said. “There’s a cool skeleton that’s required of it, but it’s fun more than anything else, and it just suits me and it suits my personality really well.”