Call Answered: Lisa Linke: Amazon's "Successful People", Netflix's "LOVE", + "Rick & Len Fix Sh!t In Your House"
From improv to web series to guest starring on network TV shows (This Is Us, Modern Family, Black-ish), Lisa Linke is always working. She wrote, produced, and starred in the award winning web series Rick & Len Fix Sh!t In Your House.
Lisa & I had a great time chatting about The Olympics, success, improv, creating a web series, love, and guest starring on network TV shows. Lisa will be appearing in Netflix's LOVE, Season 3, which drops today, March 9.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I’ve always been a performer - ask anyone in my family. When I found that being funny got attention, that was it. I was hooked. I grew up an extravert in a house full of introverts, so you kind of have to be a performer to command the attention you want. Plus, I watched a ton of TV growing up, and read so many books. I was always connecting and relating to the characters I saw on the page and screen, and would act out what they were going through in my room.
2. You have a background in improv & sketch comedy. How do you feel the training you got in this genre has helped you with your TV work? Ah! Immensely. Aside from my understanding of timing, understanding the joke the writer has written and being able to adapt on the fly, it’s given me a great mindset to collaborate. I’ve improvised for almost two decades, but to me, there is nothing more collaborative than film and TV - it takes so many people to make a project! Being able to execute my role in the collaboration well, and adjust to meet the needs of different sets that I encounter is something I didn’t anticipate, but for which I’m really grateful.
3. You are known for your role on Amazon's Successful People, a comedic web series about a songwriting duo struggling to make it big surrounded by a world full of successful people. As a singer yourself, do you feel you approached this show any differently than if you were not a singer? Yes! Mostly because there are way better singers on the show than me. 😄My role has no singing - in fact my character refers to her voice as something that made people cry - and not in a good way - so I lucked out not having to be under pressure to sing next to professional singers! I sang in choir all while growing up, and then my voice is now what I like to call “sketch voice” which means I can sing a quick tune for a sketch but, you know, nobody is going to be calling asking me to sing backup vocals.
4. Since the show is called Successful People and it deals with struggling to make it big while surrounded by a world full of successful people, how do you stay focused on your own path and not compare yourself to others who are where you want to be/hoped to be at this stage of your career? You’ve hit the nail on the head: keep your eyes on your own paper. Everyone out here in LA is selling their own flavor of ice cream, and someone wants to buy yours, you just have to find them. Wishing you had a different flavor of ice cream doesn’t do you any good. A better use of my time is to make sure I’m marketing my flavor of ice cream the best way I can, and scooping up that ice cream as best I can whenever I have a chance to deliver it. "Comparison is the thief of joy” (credit to Theodore Roosevelt, but I only listened when Brené Brown said it), so I try to focus on what I have control over and execute on that.
5. Next up for you is your appearance in the Netflix series Love. Season 3 drops March 9. What can you tell us about your role on this show? I’m so excited! I can’t say much about it, but I play "Gus’" cousin in an episode where they travel home. A real stretch for me - “Cousin Lisa” from the Midwest. Ha! It was a great time shooting on set with Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust - what an amazing week I had! Also, I got to perform with some actors that I’ve watched on TV for years. It was really thrilling. I love the episode and I can’t wait to see it!
6. With the show being called Love, other than acting, what is something you love to do? I love being in nature with my dogs, and watching them just sniff around and get excited about grass and leaves and the wind. I mean, if they can get excited about that, then I’ve got a pretty cushy life, right? Also, I love taking photos of pets. I take so many pictures and love to print them for my friends. Babies, too. But pets are more fun.
7. Another project you have is the web series Rick & Len Fix Sh!t In Your House, which you wrote, produced, & starred in. How did this series come to be? What is the hardest part about creating a web series? What's the most rewarding part? My friend Robyn, Scott and I created these characters while in Mexico celebrating her birthday with a bunch of friends, and we just loved them so much, we wouldn’t let them go. So, we buckled down, created a world they lived in, a format for the show, and started writing episodes. We got into producing it with a great team - our DP/Editor and Director were game to bring the series to life - and we just had a blast making it.
It’s a lot of hard work to produce and create and star in a series, not to mention having that kind of character costume to get in, or tearing up your home: we literally tore up carpet in my town home in Chicago, hacked apart an armoire and did everything from craft services to set design to make the episodes. It was such a learning experience with people I love and had a blast with. I am so lucky to have had that growth and learning opportunity and also just a fun time.
So, the hardest part is not having someone finance it for you, doing multiple jobs and achieving the same end product on a smaller scale with less budget. The most rewarding part is you feel such a sense of ownership over the entire project, because you did so much of it! There isn’t a piece of the experience that you didn’t touch. It’s really wonderful.
8. Let's just play with the title of this show for a moment. Instead of fixing Sh!t In Your House, what is some Sh!t in your life you'd like to fix? Oh, man! I’d love to fix Sh!t in my house still - the ceiling fan in my bedroom out here works but the lights don’t turn on…And I don’t ask my landlord to fix it, because I keep thinking I will 😄 I always have boxes that need to be broken down before they go into the recycling bin…And I need to be better about cooking food and saving money vs. being lazy and ordering Postmates. Can we just start with that?
9. You have also guest starred on several network TV shows including Black-ish, Shameless, and most recently This Is Us and Modern Family. What is it like to be the guest star and come onto a set where everyone knows each other? What is one story you can tell us about your time on one of these shows? I had such a great time as a costar on the shows you mention above, and I have a Guest Star on a Disney show coming out this spring/summer. You’re right - it’s a different experience to come onto a set and work where everyone is at their job, and they know everyone. But also, you are at your job, and your role is to show up, do your part and then go home. Everyone is usually very helpful because they know you’re only there for a short time, and they get what it’s like to not know where anything is.
My first costar was back when I was living in Chicago still - on Shameless - because they shoot their exteriors in the city. I was so overjoyed to have booked it and had no idea what to expect. My scene was in a car in the street outside the "Gallagher" home - and that set moves so fast! It was a hot, muggy day in August, and we were shooting in a car that of course is off and has no air conditioning, and there was a stunt driver for the other car, and there were so many moving parts and I was just so freaking thrilled to be there - I took everything in and was so happy to say yes to everything! In between takes I danced in my seat because I was so happy. I mean, I was sweating like a pig because it was so hot, but I was still dancing.
10. I also read that you are an excellent swimmer. What is your stroke of choice? Who is your favorite Olympic swimmer? Nice work! I started out as a back-stroker, but then when I got mono in high school, as part of my recovery I ended up being a long-distance swimmer. Nowadays, if I get in the pool, I usually swim freestyle. My favorite Olympic swimmer would probably be Janet Evans because she was such a powerhouse and growing up we all looked up to her - defying the odds with her different stroke pattern, but still smashing world records with her determination and grit. and, you can’t beat Phelps as the GOAT. Plus, Dara Torres has been in so many Olympics! Swimmers are awesome, man.
More on Lisa:
Lisa Linke has been improvising for seventeen years, and performing since she got her first laugh at six months old. A veteran of the Chicago improv scene, she spent almost fourteen years studying and performing improvisation and sketch comedy at The Second City, iO (formerly Improv Olympic), The Annoyance and ComedySportz.
Before she relocated to Los Angeles, she taught all levels of longform improvisation at iO and performed for six years with Harold team Cougars as well as the critically-acclaimed remount of Close Quarters. She performed for over five years with Big Yellow Bus at The Playground Theater, and for over ten with Mustang Repair. She has written, performed, directed and produced improvised and scripted shows all around Chicago. She taught beginning comedy writing at The Second City Training Center, and sometimes still works with Second City Communications, traveling around the world to teach business people how to utilize improv in their everyday lives, and sometimes perform classic scenes and improvise. Which is awesome.
She is a recurring co-star on TV Land's Teachers and just shot a co-star for This Is Us, Modern Family and for Season 3 of Love on Netflix. She was also seen on the Season 2 premiere of Black-ish, as "Waggy Lee Miller," the tough-as-nails dog dance instructor in the web series Dog Moms, Disney Channel France feature film where she got to drive a tow truck, a short where she played a Taylor Swift fan who took things just a tish too far, a May The Fourth Be With You short where she played an aging, slightly drunk "Princess Leia," some improv via FaceTime with Lauren Lapkus, and a short produced by Maker Studios, where she smoked fruit punch vapor from an e-cigarette.
Prior to all of that, she was incredibly proud of the award-winning web series Rick & Len Fix $h!t In Your House, which she co-created, co-wrote, and co-executive produced. In that, you can watch her play a very awkward man named Len.