Funny lady Mary Birdsong just finished her first guesting on “Raising Hope,” playing the mayor of the town inhabited by the hapless Chance family – a city official who might have a future on the show.
“On the outside, she is very Sarah Palin-esque adorable. She could have been a runner up in a beauty contest. She’s all smiles, knows what to say, wears great little suits from Talbots. But she really likes to party. A weekend warrior. She’s kept it in control, she is a good mayor, trying to do a good job. But she’s of course a drunk and a loose woman…I feel like I’ve monopolized the market on slutty drunks,” Birdsong says.
But that’s not a bad thing. She explains, “The women who play bitches will give you the shirt off their backs; it’s the ingénues have to watch out for.”
Birdsong is also being widely seen now in George Clooney’s “The Descendants,” for which she gives director Alexander Payne credit. “To cast a comedic actress, someone like me who is known for sketch comedy? It’s a real testament to Alexander Payne’s conviction of his own vision. That goes for Rob Huebel, too,” she notes of the “Descendants” actor and Upright Citizens Brigade alumnus.
A veteran of the audition process and knowledgeable about the prevailing wisdom in actor circles, she tells us, “It toughens you up, gives you a sense of gallows humor.” For instance, when she was asked to meet Payne, she thought, “‘Okay, you guys are having fun with this crazy joke?’” One gets so jaded, according to her, “When they say something complimentary, you know you’re never going to hear from them again — that’s the kiss of death! It’s like, ‘You are so talented.’ ‘Oh, yeah? You know what? $#@! you!’”
But cast her, Payne did — and to the film’s benefit.