Podcast: Listen to our interview with Jane Lynch

See Jane Sing! (with Jane Lynch)Episode 171: John Moore chats with Jane Lynch, who created the iconic character of the maniacal yet melodic Sue Sylvester on “Glee,” which airs its final episode on March 20.

In the meantime, Lynch will be spreading her own brand of Valentine’s Day love here in Denver with her one-night-only “anti-cabaret show” titled See Jane Sing, an evening of musical comedy, wit and the occasional showtune. That’s at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. She will be joined in Denver by actor Kate Flannery, who played ever-drunk Meredith on The Office.

In our podcast, Lynch talks about “Glee” and its lasting legacy, as well as former co-star Melissa Benoist of Denver. She also mentions Carol Burnett, Olivia Newton John, why “the pop song is basically responsible for unhealthy relationships and unattainable dreams,” and why Laurie Bohner fom A Mighty Wind was her favorite character in any of her many Christopher Guest films: 

“She sang. She was in porno. She was married to John Michael Higgins. She had a fake tan. She said ridiculous things, and she worshiped color. What more could you ask for?”

For info on “See Jane Sing,” call 303-893-4100 or click here to get further details on the DCPA’s web site.

Jane Lynch Quote 1

For those who would prefer to read the conversation, here is a transcript for your convenience: 

John Moore: Maybe we can start by talking about your show. Tell me a little bit about the evolution from the Mighty Wind days to doing a live show in front of 3,000 people?

Jane Lynch: Well, you know I haven’t been on stage probably since we toured A Mighty Wind. I haven’t really done a show. This kind of came out of the blue, the request to do this show. I had done Annie on Broadway the summer before, so I guess that was first time I had been on stage in a long time. And the people at 54 Below asked me the next summer if I would like four nights at their place to do a cabaret show. And I said yes, even though I didn’t have a cabaret show. But I took some time and made one, and I enjoyed doing it and really loved it. So that’s kind of how this tour became a reality for me. We basically just picked up that show, and we have been taking it around the country. We have a beautiful, five-piece band. And they are fantastic. It’s the Tony Guerrero Quintet, and Tim Davis has joined us, too. Tim is a wonderful singer and vocal arranger – and he’s the guy who does all the arrangements on Glee.

John Moore: What kind of an evening do we have when we spend Valentine’s Day with Jane Lynch?

Jane Lynch: Well, we are going to kick it off with some romantic singing. Tim is my opener. He is probably going to do a couple of numbers. He’s a crooner, so he’ll do some pretty love songs, I am sure, with a swing – because that band is really hot. But the show is basically a bunch of music over many different styles. My friend Kate Flannery, who played Meredith on The Office, joins me on a few of them – and she is hilarious, as well. And Tim is great. We have some three-part harmonies. We have some a capella stuff. And hopefully some funny banter in-between. So it is a lot of fun. I have this one song by Irving Berlin called “Mr. Monotony.” Most people know Irving Berlin, but they don’t know (that song). There are a bunch of songs like that. You might not know them, but as soon as you hear them, you go, ‘Oh, I love this song.’ And we also have some standards in there, too.

John Moore: So tell us a little bit about your musical background, and how that fits into your overall (skill set).

Jane Lynch: You know, I don’t have any musical training per se. But I come from a family who loved to sing. None of us were professionals. We were just sitting around the kitchen table singing and watching musicals together. I didn’t go to school for it. I went to school for acting. But I always loved doing musicals, and I have done a lot of sketch comedy. I almost always include a song. I had a one-person show about 12 or 13 years ago. I always try to find an excuse to sing.

John Moore: I don’t know if you know this or not, but it was about this time a year ago when Matthew Morrison came to the Denver Center an performed at the big annual fundraiser for arts education. It raised $800,000 in one night.

Jane Lynch: Oh, my gosh! Bravo, Matthew.

John Moore: Yeah, it was a great night at the Denver Center … and here you are now. Do you want to throw down at all?

Jane Lynch: (Laughing.) No, no. What I will say is that Matt has been my mentor in this whole process. He has been doing this now for a couple of years, and he has helped me in ways I can’t even explain. In fact, my first show at 54 Below, he came up and sang a song with me. So, yeah: He’s been a valuable resource and source of support for me in doing this. He has been great.

John Moore: What was it like for you when you finally got to to realize your Broadway dream and play Miss Hannigan in Annie?

Jane Lynch: Oh, it was amazing. You know, I thank Glee so much for that. I don’t think the people at Annie would know who Jane Lynch was if it weren’t for the fact that i had been on Glee for several years. That was kind of handed to me. It was all gift-wrapped and said, ‘Here: For you.’ I loved it, and appreciated it, and I want to go back. I want to do more theatre.

John Moore: All right, I am going to throw a wild-card at you: The first time you hosted the Do Something Awards – celebrating the achievements of Americans under the age of 25 – a young girl won named Jessica Posner, who built a school for girls in Kenya’s largest slum. She is from Denver. I have to ask, why was it important for you to take on the Do Something Awards?

Jane Lynch Quote 3Jane Lynch: Because these people needed a light shone on them. Because I know she didn’t do it to have a light shone on her. She did it because it helped girls in a horrible situation and made it much better for them. And it gave them opportunities by opening their minds. So I felt it was our job to go, ‘There is something happening here with this generation that will become the operative generation for the next several decades. They are doing some really awesome things. So I was really glad to be on-board to do that. I did it two years in a row, and it was really moving – and very heartening.

John Moore: The other local person you know and we know – and love – here in Denver is your former Glee co-star, Melissa Benoist.

Jane Lynch: Ah, yeah.

John Moore: I know it was only for a short time, but what was it like working with her?

Jane Lynch: She’s great. She’s a pro. She’s so beautiful. I wish she sang more solos because her solo voice is just awesome. Do you remember “Wrecking Ball”? She did a great job with that song. And I just saw her in (the film) Whiplash. She was terrific. Really beautiful work.

John Moore: With the last season of Glee having just started, a lot of people are wondering: What happened to all those kids (who were still at the school)?
Jane Lynch: Yeah, I wonder. (Laughing.) You know, they say they transferred or something. You know …

John Moore: Oh, I get you. But back to your singing. I know you have said before that two of your favorite guest stars have been Olivia Newton-John and Carol Burnett. They are such wonderful women, but so different. Why them?

Jane Lynch: Isn’t that interesting? Yeah, they are completely different. Well, Carol because of her comedy, and I watched The Carol Burnett Show every Saturday night. Although I didn’t know this consciously, it was planting little seeds in my head that this is what wanted to do. And I ended up doing sketch comedy for a long time. Just the characters that she created. I think she was probably my biggest teacher. She always made huge choices, but she always grounded them in reality. They never looked false. And Olivia Newton-John came to my consciousness with “I Honestly Love You.” That song, for some reason, every time I heard it, I would cry. It just broke my little 14-year-oold heart. I became kind of obsessed with her. Kind of a crush … or a rock-star obsession. I felt like she was probably a wonderful person, too. I just had a sense about her. And about Carol, too. I had a sense that she was just a wonderful person, and indeed, I was not disappointed on either count.

John Moore: So “I Honestly Love You” would have been the perfect song for the Glee
kids to be singing in last week’s episode when the secret file of songs that make Sue Sylvester weak was found. 

Jane Lynch: Oh, yeah, they should have. You know, I told them, ‘You should have asked me, instead of making them up yourselves.’ That song definitely would have been there. “Seasons in the Sun,” too. Do you know that song?

John Moore: Yeah.

Jane Lynch: That used to make me cry. And then Eric Clapton’s “Would You Know Me in Heaven?” I think that would go too far, though. I can’t listen to that without falling apart.

John Moore: I hate to ask you the same question you have been asked a hundred times but with Glee wrapping up, I am wondering what your thoughts are on the opportunity to create this wholly original, horrible character in Sue Sylvester that is unprecedented in television history.

Jane Lynch: Well, thank you for that.

John Moore: The ‘horrible’ part?

Jane Lynch: No, the ‘television history’ part. The ‘iconic’ thing. … ‘Legendary,’ I think you said. All these superlatives. (Laughter.)  I know that I was handed the opportunity of a lifetime, and I know that I stepped up, so I feel good about about that. I enjoyed it so much. I continue to enjoy it. Matt (Morrison) and I were doing a scene yesterday. We were laughing so hard, and he looked up and said, ‘Seven years. I still cannot get over how much fun this is.’ Our scenes together are so insane. He’s so good, and I am so bad as hell (laughter).

John Moore: From the moment I saw Kurt’s macho dad say he loved him in the first season, and the football star became his best friend, you know that the creators of this show have taken full advantage of the opportunity to use TV to imagine a world that’s more like someplace we might like it to be. And then maybe the world sort of becomes more like that because of it.

Jane Lynch: I think so. God, you put it so well, I am going to probably rip you off in my next interview.

John Moore: Please, rip me off.

Jane Lynch: They presented a world we all wish we could live in. Not all, because obviously there are people who don’t want to live in that world. But I think when you do put that on television, you make it possible, because you give people a model for what could be. And maybe there is a father who is not necessarily watching Glee but maybe caught that moment and went, ‘I can do that. I can step up to that.

John Moore: And I know this isn’t just about Glee, but how does it feel knowing that really no kid will ever grow up again saying they never really had positive gay role models in the pop culture.

Jane Lynch: Oh, I know. And God bless Ryan Murphy and Chris Colfer for that. Chris was very instrumental in every place his character went. If he had a problem with something, he would get on the phone and they would fix it. One of the things Chris and Ryan both said, ‘We don ‘t want Kurt to be a victim, ever. He’s never unempowered. He’s always going to stand up for himself.

Jane Lynch Quote 2

John Moore: I know we are coming up right against time but I have been threatened within an inch of my life if I don’t ask you your favorite role in a Christopher Guest film.

Jane Lynch: Oh, that would be hard to say. But I will say that Laurie Bohner was almost everything to me in A Mighty Wind. She sang. She was in porno. She was married to John Michael Higgins. She had a fake tan. She said ridiculous things, and she worshiped color. What more could you ask for?

John Moore: I feel like we should end on that but I want to bring it back to your show and ask what do you want to tell people in terms of why spending Valentine’s Day with you is the perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day?

Jane Lynch: Because you are going to laugh a lot, and it’s going to be fun, and the music I think is great. There are some love songs in there. But also as an added bonus, I do this love song medley about how the pop sing is basically responsible for unhealthy  relationships and unattainable dreams. But its a lot of fun if you kind of go through all these songs. Like “I Can’t Live, If Living Is Without You,”  that kind of stuff, and how unhealthy that is.  So we are going to do a very tender, moving, sentimental ode to the destructive nature of love songs.

John Moore: I love it. I would love to pick your brain more about about your Steppenwolf years and more, but I know we are against time. So I am just going to say it’s a real thrill to be able to talk to you.

Jane Lynch: Thanks. It’s been the best interview of the morning, so thank you.

John Moore: Well, thank. I’ll keep that on tape for a while, too.

Jane Lynch: Yeah, do.

John Moore: I’ll steal that, and you can steal that other thing

Jane Lynch: OK, good.         


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