‘For A Good Time, Call’ writer Katie Naylon talks phone sex, women in comedy, more! (Interview)

By | August 31, 2012 at 12:54 pm | No comments | feature slider, Interviews, TV/Movies | Tags: , , ,

There’s a good chance that none of you know who Katie Naylon is– but it’s a name you all should learn. Naylon is the co-writer and producer of the soon-to-be-hit indie comedy For A Good Time Call…, in theaters today. The film centers around two best friends in New York City who run a phone sex line to make ends meet. But more than that, it’s about the love that grows between the duo, who begin as enemies. It’s typical story, sure, but the execution is hilarious. If you’re into references, think about it as Bridesmaids meets Zach and Miri Make A Porno. I spoke with Naylon, who ran her own phone sex line in college, and whom Ari Graynor’s character is based upon. We chatted about phone sex (naturally), real women on screen, and the trials of making an independent raunchy female-driven comedy.

You ran your own phone sex line in college. So the material is very near and dear to your heart. What are some of the biggest misconceptions about phone sex operators?
I think the voice thing is a big misconception. I could talk in my regular voice and I never needed to use a low, sultry voice. I think there’s something about that. A lot of people ask me, ‘Do you think Lindsay Lohan would be a good phone sex operator?’ I’m like, ‘Well, if she wants to. I don’t know.’ I think it’s really about, to be a good phone sex operator, is being about ‘yes.’ It’s very improvisational. They teach this in improv class: you’re always supposed to say, ‘Yes.’ Whenever someone says, ‘Okay, we’re sitting on an imaginary bench.’ You’re like, ‘Yes.’ But if you say, ‘No,’ the improv stops because then everybody has to change the flow. So it’s kind of the same with phone sex. So you just have to say, ‘Yes.’ Unless, of coarse, they want you to say, ‘No,’ in which case you just say, ‘No.’

What’s a memorable call you took where you worked really hard not to blurt out laughing?
I guess my first call was the call that was like that for me. I was a virgin when I ran my phone sex line. I remember I used AskJeeves.com (I know, I’m dating myself), it was like the year 2000, and I remember searching ‘S&M’ which brought up so many things. I didn’t know what it was and this guy said, ‘Are you into that?’ And I said, ‘Oh, yeah, if you are!’ And then we had phone sex. But I had no idea what I was saying.

You also have some stand-up comedy experience. How did that happen?
I was waitlisted for the David Letterman internship in New York and then I didn’t get it. But I had already gotten an apartment, and loans, and everything because I was sure I was going to get it. So I decided I was going to go to New York anyways and figure it out when I got there, which my parents weren’t too thrilled about. I came by myself and I’d never really been there and I just hit the ground running. I found this comedian who was one of the beginners of College Humor, Steve Hofstetter. I worked for him cold calling companies to get them to have outings at comedy clubs. I would hand out flyers and do all that stuff when I had this feeling like, ‘I’m funnier than these people at the open mics.’ So it was because of him I started doing comedy. I did some of his rooms and other ones when I moved back to New York. But I didn’t like hanging around bars all night, plus the career of stand-up comedy is really hard, so I kinda figured that wasn’t exactly my dream. So I went with a different direction with it. But it definitely helped with my writing.

When I moved out to LA, I moved to be with Lauren [Anne Miller, co-writer of For a Good Time Call] and to write a movie with her. The first thing we did is we sat down and we wanted to write a story about girls becoming friends and getting over something. The phone sex is just a funny background. We never set out to write a raunchy comedy or an R-rated comedy. It just so happens that the jokes were dirty and that’s why it was R-rated. On Girls or on Sex and the City, that’s how women talk and not everyone likes that.

That’s what I loved about your movie. Since Bridesmaids, there’s been the creation of this genre of female buddy comedy with a hint of a ‘bro’ element. It’s women being sometimes a bit too real. This is how women really are. Were there any lady secrets you found entertaining to expose to a male audience?
I wanted to be able to talk pretty frankly about sex. And maybe it doesn’t come across because that’s not the way we talk when guys are in the room. The last joke of the film, ‘Ah! It’s running down my leg!’ or whatever or on Girls talking about HPV when she explains it to all of her girlfriends– I know exactly what they’re talking about. I don’t know that guys think about that. I don’t like to hear that women are ‘unexpectedly funny’ because I think women are funny all the time. I think guys never cornered the market on that. I don’t think we made any big reveal to men, per se. I think just in a general way that girls are funny; girls are really frank and honest. We’re not trying to ‘bro out’ or anything. That’s just how women talk. We can be classy or whatever at other points in the day.

It’s also a testament to our director, Jamie Travis. He’s gay. He’s fabulous. He surrounds himself with women. He loves women. He felt like if a man directed it, they would objectify the girls and make it too sexual. And coincidentally, he thought that if a woman directed it, it may be too sentimental. He felt like he was the right guy for the job. The script really made him laugh and get misty-eyed.

You wrote this before Bridesmaids went into production, right?
Yeah. We tried to sell it. We met with like 60 production companies. Everyone thought we were great writers. We thought that was great; we thought we had arrived. We thought, ‘Maybe this is it. Maybe this is the one. Maybe they’ll want to make our movie and work with us.’

That wasn’t the case. They felt the movie wouldn’t sell, that there wasn’t any space for it in the market. Because an R-rated female comedy hadn’t proven itself yet at the box office. So when we started making it on our own, we started going down that path, we visited table readings of Bridesmaids. We thought it was great!

(Pictured: Writer Katie Naylon, co-writer, co-star Lauren Anne Miller, co-star Ari Graynor and director Jamie Travis)

We don’t mind being compared to it, because it is a great movie, albeit a very different movie. But I’ll take it. It showed the studio and important people that there is an audience for these movies, that women go see movies that aren’t just about a veterinarian who falls in love with some guy. It used to be that the only movie options for women who wanted to see themselves on screen were about trying to get Ryan Gosling. I want to get him, too. But sometimes you want something a little different. It’s kind of on us to get them back up there, to get the girls back up there.

We’re certainly stoked to be a part of that cloud of funny women and writers and self-producers. It was also really hard to get this movie made. It’s a lot easier when you have Judd Apatow to get your movie made. That would go for Bridesmaids and for Girls. If you get a big famous male producer, it’s going to be a lot easier for you to get your movie made. For a couple of girls who started out there on their own, we worked our butts off to get this movie made over the past year to be in time for the Sundance deadline. We’re really proud of the work we’ve done. And now I don’t think we’ll need anyone else. And if the film does well, we’ll get a chance to work again! Which is really all we wanted in the first place!

Where do you see this genre going? What does this trend mean for female comedy beyond menstruation and dieting jokes?
I know we aren’t going anywhere for as long as they’ll let us stick around. We’re gonna continue to write what we’re going to write about– a pretty honest, fresh take on how women are. We’re complicated people and the women we want to see up on screen aren’t shallow and aren’t caricatures. I think if we had more female-driven staff we would start to see women be more developed characters on screen, layered. Like Katie [in FAGTC], she’s a phone sex operator but she has a vulnerability and a secret that she holds with her for most of the movie. She’s very different than how she appears, like a very real, live person. That’s how most women really are.

Our favorite compliment is when girls come up to us after the screenings and go, ‘That’s us! That’s my friend! That’s how we really talk and I’ve never seen a movie where I felt like it was us up there.’ It’s so awesome to hear that. We might be seeing more real female characters up on screen. That’s going to be really exciting. There’s going to be a Renaissance– of the ladies.

For a Good Time, Call… opens in theaters today. For more info, check out foragoodtimecallmovie.com.

About the Author

Billy Procida

Billy is a stand-up comedian in New York City. Every week he sits down with former lovers and special guests to talk about sex, dating, sexuality & gender on The Manwhore Podcast: A Sex-Positive Quest for Love. Follow Billy on Twitter: @TheBillyProcida

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