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Interview with Melissa Peterman of "Baby
Daddy" on ABC Family 6/4/13
ABC Family’s Q&A with Melissa Peterman
Moderator: You seem like you're just naturally funny.
M. Peterman: I like to think that, but my husband would
probably disagree sometimes, but I think that I find humor
in a lot of things.
Moderator: How did you discover your natural talent for
comedy on stage and on TV?
M. Peterman: I had always loved theater. People are really
surprised, I was kind of a quiet kid but I was a natural
observer. I loved to watch people and part of it was I was
close to six feet tall in high school and got into theater.
When you got someone to laugh it was like the power of “if I
can just get them to laugh with me and not at me”, it was a
powerful—the ability to get a laugh out of somebody, it
doesn’t matter if you do it for a living or not, that’s an
amazing feeling, humor is the glue that gets everyone
together and it was a great defense for me in a way in high
school. If you're funny, it doesn’t matter that you're
towering over every boy there, and then I learned to embrace
my height so it was a good combo. I think I was just on
stage. I did a lot of theater in high school, and when I
first got that first laugh, I was addicted.
Moderator: Speaking of your humor and using it in your show,
Dancing Fools, you do these voiceovers for the videos, and
they're really funny. I was wondering do you prepare for
those when you're recording them, or do you make it up on
M. Peterman: We had a great team of writers led by Brennan
Huntington who is fantastic and we had a couple of writers
who used to work for the Ellen show. So we had a great team
that would come in and they’d been watching them and they'd
send them to me and I'd watch them and mull it over. So, I
was able to have jokes prepared, but a lot of times, we
would get in the booth and start watching them and either
tweak that or I'd have an idea or they'd have an idea. So,
we had a template that sometimes we went off of.
There was one, and we could not figure out what to do with
this. It's this older gentleman and I think he's dressed as
a baby dancing and we couldn’t come up with anything because
it was hilarious but a little creepy but we wanted it to be
funny. So over time, after a couple tries, we just came up
with a voice of, "Hi, my name's Clark Stevens. I'm here to
audition for the part of the baby. Goo-goo gah-gah." We just
went “Okay, that works, we can do that.” So, a lot of times,
we had a template, but we would definitely stray from it
depending on what was happening in the booth at the time.
Moderator: Were you part of the evolution of the series or
did they come and talk to you about it because they know
you're naturally funny?
M. Peterman: Phil Gurn, who's the producer, I've worked with
him in the past. He did the Singing Bee which I did for him
for CMC, and so, he knew me as the host but he came to me
with this idea, and no, that was all them. I thought it was
such a great twist of it's got the feel of America's
Funniest Home Videos but with dance, but then the twist is
there's a game show element. There's a live element of
getting them to come dance live, I think is just genius, and
that was the most fun to see the people that we were
watching all week over and over again because that’s what I
love about the videos too.
Even though we don’t want to admit that we're getting sucked
into watching videos on YouTube at our work, we do. I love
watching any sort of fun video like that, and so, it was fun
to have them, to be watching them over and over and then to
see them come live, and who doesn’t like a chance to win
$10,000 for a video that they might have done in their
basement or at a wedding reception for fun? So, I just
thought the idea was a great twist. You just love to watch
it. You can't stop yourself.
Moderator: Any chance we can get you a part on Melissa and
Joey and just do a Melissa Peterman trifecta on Wednesday?
M. Peterman: I would think that would be amazing to do. I
would love that. I’m a big fan of the show and the Melissa
and Joey cast and our cast, we share some of the same crew
as in we share some of the makeup people that have to do
both shows, and I just have this feeling that Melissa Joan
Hart and I would—everyone who knows both of us are like “You
guys should do something together. You would love each
other”. So, I'd love to do something with her.
Moderator: What's your favorite part about working on Dancing
M. Peterman: Meeting the contestants. I just love genuinely—I
think everyone has a story and I love meeting new people and
we met some amazing people. I like hearing people's stories
and what they do and I love that and also the professional
dancers that we have, I love trying to dance with them. That
also makes me very happy.
Moderator: How does Dancing Fools differ from any other dance
competition show that’s on television today?
M. Peterman: Because at any given point, we could have a ten
year old or a grandma or two best friends or bridesmaids or
groups—at any given point, you could have a 5 year old or a
80 year old coming to dance live and compete. So, I think
that’s what's very different.
Moderator: What is your most embarrassing dance memory?
M. Peterman: How much time do you have? Probably one of the
earliest was my first dance recital and I think it must have
been eight or nine or something like that and we were doing
99 Red Balloons. Imagine an eight year old girl with red
turtleneck, leotards with the balloons and so, we'd
rehearsed it without the balloons because we were going to
carry helium balloons and then let them go right when the
“da-da-da-da” started and we let them go, and I guess nobody
thought that when helium balloons are released in an
auditorium or a stage and they hit the lights they would all
explode, and so, all these balloons just started popping and
all of us were screaming but we were trying so hard to keep
it together and keep dancing and I might have wet my pants.
I was afraid by the balloons popping and the sounds and it
was pop, pop, pop. So, that was the first, which was just a
high bar to set for many years of embarrassing dance
I love it when you think you're killing it at a wedding and
you're like, “Man, everyone is watching me dance” and then
you realize your dress is tucked into the back. That’s
happened before. I've had a lot. I guess I'm not that
embarrassed by it because I enjoy it so much that I figure
things happen and I'm not the only one they happen to, but
yes, thinking that you're killing it and realizing that the
reason they're watching you is not the reason you think.
Moderator: Dancing Fools is a perfect show for you to host,
M. Peterman: It's a perfect show, and I love it. I love game
shows. I love dancing. I imagine I'm a much better dancer in
my brain and I do love to dance. These two best friends
[did] a dance that they sprung at a wedding reception and it
gave me so much joy to watch them because you could just
tell they were having the best time ever and we could not
stop watching it over and over again. We bring them to do it
live and it turns out that they had said that the wedding
was going to be the last time they were going to do this
dance together. They’ve been best friends since they were
14, and we brought them out of retirement on Dancing Fools
to redo it and they were just the nicest guys, both recently
married. One's expecting a baby. I love those stories, and
they were amazing.
Moderator: Are there any comedians that have influenced you
or that you admire?
M. Peterman: Carol Burnett is a huge [influence]—I watched
her Saturday night when I was a kid and just fell in love.
Gilda Radner, I absolutely adored and would get to watch
Saturday Night Live at my aunt's house when I slept over and
my parents didn’t know, so Gilda Radner, Catherine O'Hara,
Andrea Martin. More recently, Tina Fey, I think is just a
genius, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, anyone who’s
fearless. I feel like that’s what I love to see in another
woman comic, be fearless and don’t worry about being pretty.
You'll do anything if you know it's funny, and you don’t
care how you look and don’t be afraid to be the butt of the
joke and I think that’s just the secret. It was very
exciting for me when we were shooting Baby Daddy that Hot in
Cleveland shot next door and Betty White was like four doors
down from me, and I wrote her a letter and sent it over to
her dressing room and she said I could come over and meet
her, and for me, she did three of the most—Rose Nylund and
Sue Ann Nivens—she created so many amazing sidekicks that
were just hilarious, and she's 92 and she's fearless. So,
for me, it's any woman who is completely fearless and
willing to go for it and commit.
Moderator: When do you find time to sleep with everything
that you're doing and what else do you have coming up?
M. Peterman: Well, it looks busier because they're all airing
right now. The reality is I'm done shooting them all so now
they're just all airing. So, it's extreme periods of
business followed by a good chunk of time off, but during
the shooting, it was extremely busy.
I do it because I do have so much downtime when it's over,
and I have a husband who’s a stay-at-home daddy so I have
that support at home, but it appears busy because they're
all airing at the same time. Right now, I'm off until July
15th when I go start Baby Daddy again, but it is busy but I
enjoy it so much. If it was a show that I wasn’t having fun
on or I didn’t enjoy, I don’t think I could do it or commit
to that much, but I've honestly really enjoyed everything
I've been doing. So, it's fun. It's never a job when you
like what you're doing. So, that helps.
Let's be honest, what I get to do is—I'm not a miner. It's a
great job and I'm really blessed and lucky to get to do what
I love. So, I still think as an actor when most of your
career people are saying no to you, when people are finally
saying yes, it's really hard to say no especially if it's a
project that really appeals to you.
Moderator: When it comes back to Dancing Fools, can you tell
us some of your other favorite moments from this season,
what else we have to look forward to?
M. Peterman: There's this awesome kid. His name is Juan and
he dances as a character that is called Granny Myrtle, and
when I first saw the YouTube clip, I was completely blown
away because I thought it was a 90-year-old grandma dancing
to Black Eyed Peas and completely killing it. I just thought
“Oh my gosh, this grandma is amazing and I need to know what
she's eating because I need that”, and it turns out it's
this young guy and we bring him to dance live and I always
like to go meet everyone before the show and I was just
talking to him and he had the greatest story.
He created this character because he felt that he'd been
bullied before and he didn’t have a lot of friends and he
just started to make up a character and he thought what
would be fun and make people happy and he came up with this
Grandma Myrtle character and would go spontaneously dance
and bust her out in public places, and I just remember this
kid and I wanted his phone number and I wanted to keep up
with him because I just thought what a great story, but he
created a character because he felt sort of different.
That’s again, like the human interest of seeing them live
that makes me really, really happy.
Also, I think looking forward to you'll get to see a lot of
our own professional dancers. I do hone in a lot more as I
get more comfortable, which is sort of funny, but there are
some great contestants, and to me, that’s the best part of
Moderator: As far as Baby Daddy goes, what attracted you to
the role of Bonnie?
M. Peterman: Because she doesn’t have an editor. She just
does whatever she thinks, and when you first audition, you
basically just get that first pilot script so you don’t
really [know the character]. [Creator] Dan [Berendsen] was
so great and I think every great pilot, the characters are
already super defined right there, and when I read it, I
just loved her. I thought she was loud. She could come off
as overbearing and whatever, but at the end of the day, she
would kill for her kids and she was funny. It was a
completely different character from Barbara Jean but it
still had some of the fun elements of things just come out
of her mouth, and she was single and she was this woman who
her kids are all grown up and they're on a new journey and
So, she has a whole new chapter coming up and she's not 22,
but she gets to still date and see what happens now that
you're not a mom full time anymore. So, that sort of
attracted me. I don't know if you’ve seen the cast, but that
was sort of attractive too to get to work with them every
Moderator: You’ve acted in movies, television programs,
you’ve hosted, is there one that you prefer over the other?
M. Peterman: I don't know. I always kind of think of myself
as an actress first in a way, but the hosting comes so
naturally because of my improv. I don’t think I prefer
anyone over the other. I think what I like about it is if I
go host, I think that makes me a better improviser because
it makes me faster on my feet, and if I go improvise, that
makes me a better standup, and if I go do standup, that
works on my timing which makes me better at a sitcom role,
and if I go do a movie, that’s a whole other sort of muscle.
Everything's smaller and it's a little bit—just a very
different feel. So, I think I enjoy them all because I think
they make me better and help me exercise a different muscle
that makes me better for another thing. I don't know if that
Moderator: I was wondering how close do you get with the
M. Peterman: As I've hosted a few other shows, I found that
if you take the time to go before the show starts and say
hello, welcome them and take a moment to chat with them, it
puts them at ease and they can have fun because here's the
thing—their time on the show is—this is the clip or the
moment that every family's going to watch at every holiday.
They're going to e-mail it to everyone. This is their time
to shine and this is their moment. They get to be a star and
this is the clip that their family will air forever.
So, I just always think it's really important to go say
hello and welcome them and it puts them at ease and they can
have fun, but I always spend a few minutes or even longer
before the show starts with all of the contestants there. I
don't follow them home or anything, but I would a couple of
them. They were pretty fun.
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