"It's so much fun to play horrible people": The incredible Lisa Linke on Love, Dog Moms, and fangirling on set
Lisa Linke speaks to Meaww about her incredible journey from a comedian to an actress who uses her sense of humor to satirize everything that goes wrong in society
Few people are as busy as Lisa Linke. The actor, writer and improviser, is best known for her role on Successful People, a comedy series about a songwriting duo struggling to make it big while surrounded by a world full of successful people. She plays Kimberly Hawkes, the former high school classmate of the lead character, who attempts to help him jumpstart his career (the show is streaming now on Amazon Prime). That's not all she has her hands full with. She is also the creator of the web series Dog Moms, a parody of the Lifetime series Dance Moms. In the series, she plays the equivalent of Abby Lee 'Waggy Lee'.
She is currently guest starring on the popular television show Bunk'D, being aired on the Disney Channel and on the hit Netflix series Love which is streaming now. She has also performed in a variety of critically-acclaimed shows including Close Quarters, Out Of Character, and A Woman’s Path. Tired yet?
In an interview with Meaww, Lisa talks about her career and her journey from comedian to actress.
In a successful career, you have played characters both on television and web-series. How was the experience different?
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to play amazing characters across the board. I’m always grateful for work of any kind and work that gives me more experience in different mediums is exciting. I’ve produced my own web series, co-produced, and been offered roles in web series. Each time it was a new and different experience. Creating your own content is gratifying, exhausting and worthwhile. Going through a traditional audition process to book a show on a network or streaming platform is just as exciting -- getting to witness the same production process on a much larger level never gets old! I’m always trying to learn something new and there is so much to learn.
A TV show like Successful People sounds like a take on both sides of this achievement. What made you take up the role?
You’re right! It was such a fun time. My friends Artie O’Daly and Theresa Ryan were creating this series and had written this character, Kimberly Hawkes. She is the most obnoxious woman in the world. Artie said, “I think you can have fun with this,” and I said, “Yes, please!”. It is so much fun to play horrible people. We had such a great time on our episode, that when they fundraised for season two and wrote in more of Kimberly, I couldn’t have been happier, she’s the worst and the best to play!
How do you think Successful People is different from other comedy shows?
Successful People is brutally honest about the challenges of achieving success in the typical sense -- how hard it is to get a leg up when you don’t have connections or capital to spend. On top of that, the stakes are high, and the comedy is over-the-top, so you can laugh at these characters’ misfortunes and terrible choices. You almost don’t want them to find success! So, when they do seek out a modicum of exposure or success, you feel such a sense of accomplishment along with them, because you’ve been through their ridiculous struggle and the delightful journey that they have created for themselves.
We are really excited about Dog Moms. How did you come up with the idea?
Thank you! I love that web series. It is born out of my own frustration with my inability to stop watching Dance Moms on Lifetime. I felt horrible for those girls and yet there I was, showing up every week to see what would happen. I couldn’t quit it, like so many of my friends! It occurred to me that if there were a show that treated dogs the way they treated these girls then I would move heaven and earth to get them off the air. So, out of a sort of punishment for myself I created this parody and people LOVE IT!
How different is it working on Love when compared to other series like Black-ish, Shameless, et al?
Oh my gosh! Well, first of all, working on each of those sets was wonderful. It’s always amazing to get the chance to work on a show that is loved by so many people. And each show had its own wonderful experience: Black-ish was my first network co-star, Shameless was my first TV gig ever, Modern Family was with Ty Burrell (which was a dream), but on top of that, Chris Martin from Coldplay! And This Is Us had Ken Olin directing, who I think is a genius. I was fangirling so hard on the inside. Aside from that, the day is basically the same: show up, get hair and makeup done, get into wardrobe and then get to set and do your job. But discovering how each set is different is the fun part.
Let's rewind a bit. How has the journey been from a comedian to an actor?
Well, I’ve always been an actor. Ask my family. And I haven’t done stand up so much like improv, so for me, I’ve always been performing as someone else in front of an audience. So, the transition was quite seamless. It was just switching mediums (cameras for live houses). I love the process of fine-tuning that craft!
What is that one project you have enjoyed the most?
Oh, wow. I can’t pick a favorite! Each opportunity teaches me something new, so I love them all equally for that reason. As I grow in my career, I like to take more responsibility on set and have more work to do overall. This fall I’ll be on a medical drama that is a favorite of mine, so that is my next progression, and it was a thrill working on that set!
You have been an active member of the Women's March. Where do you see female comedians heading today?
Female comedians are everywhere! And yes, there is progress simply in terms of numbers. When I was improvising, all-female teams would have been considered a novelty, and today there are plenty of female improvisers to make multiple female-only improv teams. I think the next area to expand is for POC and LGBTQIA people in comedy. The great news is that comedy is funny to all people. You don’t have to look like or be like the person who wrote it or is performing it to appreciate it! It’s worked that way in white men’s favor for decades, and now they can enjoy the process of appreciating humor that wasn’t written by people who look like them.
What do you think lies in the future for women who want to pursue performance arts like acting and comedy?
There are so many avenues, platforms, and opportunities to get your voice heard and get your content out there - so the future is cluttered with content! The trick is making yours amazing so that it holds an audience.
You are already working on a lot of things and we are eager to know, what are you planning next?
I have a few projects I’m trying to put together with friends - we want to get some short films together and submit to festivals! I’m shooting another short with friends next month and Dog Moms is already out!