Jenny Slate describes her favorite San Francisco activity

Even if you aren’t familiar with Jenny Slate’s face, there’s a good chance you’ve heard her voice.

Back in 2010, Slate scored a viral hit with “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” a stop-animation short about, well, a talking shell wearing sneakers. In addition to co-writing the video, Slate voiced the character, which led to more animation work in “Bob’s Burgers,” “Big Mouth,” “The Secret Life of Pets” and much more.

In front of the camera, she’s had roles on “Saturday Night Live,” “Parks and Recreation” and most recently, the critically acclaimed multiverse action-comedy “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Now 12 years after the initial success of Marcel, the most famous shell in the world returns with a full-length feature film that’s as funny as it is heartwarming. We caught up with Slate last week to discuss her recent trip to San Francisco to screen the movie (she’s returning for stand-up sets on Aug. 19 and 20 at Cobb’s), her favorite moment from “Parks and Recreation” and why her 2014 film “Obvious Child” is so relevant today.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

"Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" screened at SFFILM 2022.

“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” screened at SFFILM 2022.

A24 Films

SFGATE: Tell me about your experience at SFFILM.

Jenny Slate: Oh, I love coming to San Francisco. I love the film festival. It was very exciting to be able to show that film at the Castro Theatreand I performed there doing stand-up a couple times. It just has that vibration of being legendary.

SFGATE: What did you do while you were in SF?

Slate: We had dim sum, then we went to Nob Hill and we just went shopping. I bought myself a nice outfit, and that is unheard of. I haven’t been in a store in the last few years, that’s the only time I’ve done that.

SFGATE: What was your favorite thing about the city during your visit?

Slate: I’m just a little baby. I like to go in the car and go up and down on the hills, and open the windows and scream “woah” as we drive.

"Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" screened at SFFILM 2022.

“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” screened at SFFILM 2022.

A24 Films

SFGATE: The root of the original Marcel shorts was stop motion. Were any computer graphics added to the film version?

Slate: It’s all stop motion. And then there are a few VFX of the bugs in the film, there’s beetles and stuff, and those are done with VFX.

SFGATE: Where did you find the shell you used in the movie?

Slate: Dean-Fleischer Camp, the director of the movie and co-creator of the character, he went to a craft store and bought a container of shells, some googly eyes and the molding clay that makes the green inside of Marcel’s eye. Then he went to a toy store on Court Street in Brooklyn called Pizzazzz Kidz. He got something that was sort of akin to a Polly Pocket and took the shoes from that. So, the shell was not found on the beach.

SFGATE: Will we see a “Marcel the Shell” cinematic universe? Will he be back?

Slate: I absolutely love playing the character. If we found producing partners again, like we found in Cinereach who produced this film, and they allowed us to do our work in a way that makes us feel good, I would love to do that.

"Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" screened at SFFILM 2022.

“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” screened at SFFILM 2022.

Katie McCurdy

SFGATE: You have a role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” I feel like I came out of that movie telling everyone to see it. Why do you think everyone should see it?

Slate: It has this central belief system, that the way to really get to the heart of things that are complex and confusing is to depend on intentional loving behavior, that ends up being what the main character Evelyn understands. But it’s just so inclusive, it takes everything to the maximum, there’s so much confidence and imagination, and so much variety in a film that in the end has a fairly simple message. One hundred percent it’s one of my favorite movies that I’ve ever seen.

SFGATE: You voice the character Tammy Larsen in “Bob’s Burgers.” What’s your perfect burger?

Slate: I like burgers that are really thin. And I like my burger on a sesame seed bun. I don’t like it when it’s like a fancy bun like a ciabatta or something like that. I just really don’t need that. I like a normal bun. And then I like American cheese. Pickles, iceberg lettuce, mayo, ketchup and yellow mustard.

SFGATE: Wow, mayo, ketchup and mustard. That’s a lot of condiments on there.

Slate: Yeah, you got to be careful.

SFGATE: What was one of your favorite things about being on “Parks and Recreation?”

Slate: All of the people there were so kind and wonderful to work with. Ben Schwartz is such a special person. He is so, so, so turbo-funny, and he’s very kind and considerate. He feels to me like a long-lost sibling, which, I mean, we did play siblings, but I felt that way about him when I first met him on a different show.

Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger, Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt, Jenny Slate as Mona-Lisa and Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford in "Parks and Recreation."

Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger, Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt, Jenny Slate as Mona-Lisa and Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford in “Parks and Recreation.”

NBCUniversal via Getty Images

SFGATE: The name of your “Parks and Rec” character Mona-Lisa still makes me chuckle. Are there any moments you look back on that still make you laugh?

Slate: Our final scene when we fake our own death. That dance that we do across the graveyardwhich is just a ridiculous, improvised weird dance, that was not supposed to be that way. It just turned out that way. It’s a treasure, it was so fun, and it’s so sweet to see something that you loved doing caught on film forever.

SFGATE: We’re speaking on the day of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Your 2014 movie “Obvious Child” addresses a lot of stigmas around abortion. How has it aged and why is it relevant today?

Slate: I think it’s incredibly relevant today, because it depicts a legal, safe abortion, that a person who was not very wealthy is able to access. What’s going to happen now is so, so deeply terrible. And this decision is so shameful, the people who are going to suffer from this are going to be the people who can’t travel out of state to get an abortion. It’s a disproportionate level of suffering, especially for women of color.

It’s time to speak out. We can’t forget that there used to be a time where it still was not great, but at least it was better. I think the most important thing is to try to just keep getting out there and showing people who might feel isolated and abandoned that there are large communities of people who want them to have their reproductive freedom. The Supreme Court has just stripped anyone with fallopian tubes of our basic human rights. They should have to live with that truth. That’s what they did. And everyone will always remember them for that.

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