D'Arcy Carden From 'The Good Place' : It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders Actress and comedian D'Arcy Carden plays Janet - the AI personal assistant - on NBC's 'The Good Place.' But she still makes time to perform at the Upright Citizens Brigade theatre in Los Angeles, where Sam got a chance to see her perform. Email the show at samsanders@npr.org and tweet @NPRItsBeenAMin with feels.

D'Arcy Carden From 'The Good Place'

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(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SAM SANDERS, HOST:

Hey, y'all. From NPR, I'm Sam Sanders. IT'S BEEN A MINUTE. Got a good conversation for you today. I'm talking with D'Arcy Carden, the actress and comedian and one of the stars of NBC's "The Good Place." D'Arcy also has a role in this new HBO show called "Barry," which is starring Bill Hader. So to get you into this conversation, I've got to take you back to an improv show I went to in LA a few weeks ago on a Saturday night in Hollywood at a place called the Upright Citizens Brigade. That's this very well-respected and renowned improv school and theater. And so D'Arcy Carden, my guest for today, she was doing a show here. And my first plan was to play you some audio of that show right now and dissect one of D'Arcy's scenes onstage for you to make it like you were right there. But then I realized, with improv, you actually have to be there.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: They can bend?

D'ARCY CARDEN: My knees are fine, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Oh, OK.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: There we go.

CARDEN: It's this bone, this bone. I think they're called a tibia and a fibia (ph), but (laughter) I'm on pain killers.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Are you good? Do you need anything else? Do you need your arms done or...

CARDEN: No, my arms are good. My arms are broken all the way through, shattered to the damn dust.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: So the great thing about this is that after I went to that show, D'Arcy and I had our chat. And we talked about improv and that show and how improv is basically the invisible ink of comedy. D'Arcy told me all about how she got her start in improv and how that led to her role on "The Good Place." On that show, D'Arcy plays this not-quite-human, not-quite-robot AI helper named Janet. D'Arcy and I were together at NPR West in Culver City just a few days after I saw her do improv at UCB. Enjoy.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: Are you from California? Are you from...

CARDEN: I am, yeah.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: I am from the northern part of California called the Bay Area. Ever heard of it?

SANDERS: Yay area.

CARDEN: Yay area.

SANDERS: Are you a E-40 fan?

CARDEN: Yes.

SANDERS: OK, good.

CARDEN: Yeah, my brother is a huge E-40 fan.

SANDERS: Really?

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: I love E-40.

CARDEN: I do, too.

SANDERS: Just because, like...

CARDEN: Tell me when to go.

SANDERS: Yeah, go, go, go, go. Or what's that...

CARDEN: Ghost ride the whip.

SANDERS: Right. My favorite E-40 line - I forget - it's probably in that song. He says...

CARDEN: I've got a favorite.

SANDERS: Yeah?

CARDEN: What's yours?

SANDERS: Jesus had dreads...

CARDEN: Yes.

SANDERS: ...So shake 'em.

CARDEN: Sam...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: ...Shut your damn mouth.

SANDERS: Jesus had dreads...

SAM SANDERS AND D'ARCY CARDEN: So shake 'em.

CARDEN: And then he goes, I ain't got dreads, but I'm thinking about growing some.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: It's the best.

CARDEN: That is insane that that's your favorite line.

SANDERS: Oh, high-five.

CARDEN: High-five across the table.

SANDERS: Love it.

CARDEN: Great.

SANDERS: Love it.

CARDEN: Yes, E-40's from - I'm from a town called Danville...

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: ...Which is East Bay, and he's - he lives in this part of Danville - or, like, right off of Danville called Blackhawk, which is a gated community.

SANDERS: Look at E-40.

CARDEN: And it is full - it is the - I mean, I'm sure, like, it would be easy to Google this, but it's, I'm sure, one of the richest communities...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...In California.

SANDERS: And E-40's like, I'm going to ghost ride the whip up here.

CARDEN: Exactly. And he is.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: To this day, he's ghost riding the whip.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: I want to talk about so many things, but I want to first talk about, one, how much - how great it was to, like, watch you do your thing at UCB this past weekend. But the moment that kind of - and I was thinking at first, we're going to play tape of the show...

CARDEN: Right.

SANDERS: ...In this interview. And then I was like, if you weren't there, you won't get it (laughter).

CARDEN: I know.

SANDERS: Because I was thinking of that scene where you are the drugged-out plane passenger...

CARDEN: OK.

SANDERS: ...With four broken limbs.

CARDEN: (Laughter).

SANDERS: And I was like, how do you even set it up?

CARDEN: I know.

SANDERS: How do you even set it up?

CARDEN: This is like - this is kind of the - well, first of all, thank you for coming to the show.

SANDERS: It was great to be there.

CARDEN: It was a pleasure to have you.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: The bummer and also the magic of improv is that it's like, it's - not only is it impossible to explain, it really - it's like, if you weren't there...

SANDERS: You weren't - yeah.

CARDEN: ...You just don't know. And it...

SANDERS: It's like invisible ink.

CARDEN: It totally is.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: It's like, not only can we never recreate it in any way...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...Even trying to tell a story of it, it usually is a fail.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: You know, it's like, oh, wait.

SANDERS: It's like, there was this thing, and they brought back this thing from act one...

CARDEN: Because that's...

SANDERS: ...But you wouldn't get it (unintelligible).

CARDEN: That's the big thing...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...Is, like, so much of it is being connected from other...

SANDERS: Exactly.

CARDEN: ...Little, dumb whatevers, like...

SANDERS: Exactly.

CARDEN: ...Little throwaway lines. But it makes it feel like magic when you're, like, in the room. And then to explain it, people are like, cool, so what do you do exactly?

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: Which was hard for, you know, a good decade of my life where...

SANDERS: Really?

CARDEN: ...You know, like, when I was performing at UCB for all through my 20s.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And I was so proud of what I was doing, but it was so hard to explain to people.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: So...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...You know, like, going back to, like, a friend's baby shower from high school, and people would be like, what?

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: It was like, I don't get it.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: (Laughter).

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: I was like...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...(Unintelligible).

SANDERS: Did you, over time, just stop trying to explain it?

CARDEN: Yeah, Yeah. I think it just...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: Like, instead of trying to really get into what UCB is and what improv is, it was just like, I'm doing live comedy.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: That's it.

SANDERS: That's it.

CARDEN: Yeah, that's an...

SANDERS: That's all you need.

CARDEN: ...Explanation. But...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...Then if anyone has any, like, interest, I would have...

SANDERS: Go further.

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: I did know there was one moment that I think our listeners could definitely relate to right away.

CARDEN: OK.

SANDERS: After the show, me and my colleague Anjuli accosted you backstage. And we're like...

CARDEN: I love it.

SANDERS: ...We're going to talk for a little bit. And there was this moment where I kind of just have you describe the strangeness of the space backstage. It was not glamorous. We have the tape of it, actually.

CARDEN: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SANDERS: Before I let you go, describe this room for our...

CARDEN: (Laughter) OK.

SANDERS: ...Listeners who can't see.

CARDEN: OK.

SANDERS: This is just outside of the stage...

CARDEN: Right.

SANDERS: ...In the green room.

CARDEN: Steps away from the stage.

SANDERS: You are in front of some garbage cans.

CARDEN: I'm standing on some sort of, like, puddle of garbage juice.

SANDERS: Nice.

CARDEN: OK. There are many - maybe, like, 10 kegs of beer next to us.

SANDERS: I don't know what those are.

CARDEN: This is...

SANDERS: Water heaters.

CARDEN: ...Water heaters. Yeah. We're right next to this bar. And, like, servers keep coming in and out of the door to, like, throw garbage away.

SANDERS: Yeah. So you live a glamorous life.

CARDEN: Yeah. Yeah. And, yeah, there's, like, a bathroom down those steps. And there's, like...

SANDERS: And a recycling bin.

CARDEN: Yeah. But like I said, it's nicer than the one in New York that I came up in.

SANDERS: And it just, like, underscored for me - like, I'll meet folks that are making it in the industry, and you're like, oh, you're on TV. Your life must be glamorous all the time. Not so much.

CARDEN: No, really not. And, I mean, when you looked on - I'm trying to think of who played on Saturday night when you were there - but, like, the majority of those people are on TV.

SANDERS: Oh, yeah. I was like, I know you from that show and from that show and from that show.

CARDEN: Exactly. Yeah. But, you know - and sure, like, there are plenty of things that are glamorous about that life. But like, there are more things that are not. You know what I mean (laughter)?

SANDERS: Exactly. Exactly.

CARDEN: And I will also say, like, it's a garbage dump there. And that speaks to how much we love it, like that - that people that have come up at UCB that continue to go back to do these shows week after week. It's like, it is our home, and we love it. And like, bring it - bring on the garbage juice.

SANDERS: (Laughter) I mean, and I also found myself saying, well, gosh, if I was in D'Arcy's spot and I had a clutch roll on a successful network sitcom...

CARDEN: Thanks, dude.

SANDERS: ...I'd be like, I ain't never doing garbage juice again. I'm out of here. I'm guessing you don't have to do UCB anymore. What makes you want to keep doing it?

CARDEN: Well, like, have to as far as, like, career stuff?

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: You know, it's, like - I don't really - the weird thing about UCB is, like, it never really was a have to because I'm sure this is public knowledge, but, like, we don't get paid for it. Not a dime. So it's never been a have to as far as, like, I need to...

SANDERS: Start paying your bills.

CARDEN: ...Yeah. It's so much about, like, loving it. And to be honest, when I don't do it, I find myself, like, going a little cuckoo. Like, when I moved - when my husband and I moved from New York to LA...

SANDERS: Where in New York were you?

CARDEN: ...We lived in Brooklyn Heights but performed at UCB in Chelsea...

SANDERS: Got you. Got you.

CARDEN: ...You know, like, many nights a week. You know, anywhere from one to truly, like, five shows a week...

SANDERS: You said we. Your husband, too?

CARDEN: ...My husband - I say we a lot - my husband is not - he's a producer. We were in that world...

SANDERS: In that space.

CARDEN: ...In that life very much, very, like, deeply. And then moving to LA where, you know, there's a UCB here, but it takes a minute to, like - you don't automatically just get to do the same shows and, you know, you have to like...

SANDERS: You had to, like, re-audition?

CARDEN: ...Yeah, a little - yeah, you do have to re-audition, which was...

SANDERS: Insulting.

CARDEN: ...It was probably, like, I don't know, humbling or good. You know, it's always good to, like, mix it up. But, yeah, it definitely kind of rocked me, you know, going from doing many shows a week to coming to LA and doing a show once in a while. That first, I don't know, six months was - I found myself, like, needing a creative outlet.

SANDERS: Really?

CARDEN: ...Weird things. Like, I would be (laughter) - I'd be, like, in the car. You know, we sing to the radio, but I would be, like, ad-libbing to the radio. Or I would, like, be writing poetry in my head. I just - I was, like, what am I doing? And then I'd realize, like, I have all this pent up weird, creative energy that I usually can just leave onstage.

SANDERS: Put onstage. So have you found a method that you reliably use now to get those juices out, or you just bounce around with stuff?

CARDEN: Well, I think, like - OK, so when I am shooting "The Good Place," it is - or "Barry"...

SANDERS: What's that about?

CARDEN: This is Bill Hader's new show.

SANDERS: Oh, I heard him on - he was on KPCC yesterday...

CARDEN: Yes, he was.

SANDERS: ...Yeah, on The Frame.

CARDEN: We had the premiere last night, which is why I look like this...

SANDERS: You look great.

CARDEN: ...Which is a little rough. But we're on the, you know...

SANDERS: Oh, listen; you look great.

CARDEN: ...On the air. So you can't see me. But anyway, so, like, when I'm shooting those shows, it is definitely harder to get the UCB shows in. But I almost think of it as, like, working out or something. Like, my brain would get soft...

SANDERS: OK. Yeah, need a run, you know?

CARDEN: Totally. It's like I need it.

SANDERS: Got to keep those muscles tight. Did your experience doing those shows change once you, like, got big?

CARDEN: Oh, I am so big (laughter).

SANDERS: Yeah, you are (laughter).

CARDEN: No, no, no, no. I mean, you know, it - OK. So it's a weird thing because on one hand, no, not at all. And then on the other hand, it's a pressure that, like, I think I probably am putting on myself. You can, like - there's something that happens when a person sees a person on TV. It's like whether they watch the show, whether they even like the person, it's just this little whatever.

SANDERS: They become separate and apart.

CARDEN: Right. It's like this thing like. I - it's just this thing. And we've all seen it. And we've all done it. And whatever, I've done it. So I have noticed that, like, when I come out on stage, there's, like, a little bit more of a vocal than I had heard when I was not. So you can kind of just feel that recognition, which is not a big deal. But I can a little bit get in my head about, like...

SANDERS: Does it put more pressure on you?

CARDEN: ...Yeah. Like, you better deliver, honey. But like, that's only going to result in getting in your head. I mean, and the thing about improv is truly, like, as little as you can put pressure on yourself and be in your head, the better.

SANDERS: And also, it seems as like from what I've seen when I watch these shows, no one's actually trying to be the star. They're just trying to keep it moving.

CARDEN: And when you are - when one is trying to be the star - which, like, I can't even remember the last time I was in a show like that because to be honest, you don't, like, get very far at UCB if that's the vibe - it is rough. And it almost does the opposite. Like, you can feel the audience kind of go like, they're stepping out again...

SANDERS: Yeah, this guy.

CARDEN: ...Yeah. Like, they're tagging that person out again? You know, I think I mentioned this to you backstage. Like, the thing that I love about improv is how much of an ensemble it is and how much we are trying to, like, build each other up. And it's not about me saying the funniest thing. It's about me, like, setting you up to say the funniest thing or whatever, you know? I always say, like, you make me look like a genius, and I promise I'll make you look like a genius. I think that's, like - I love that.

SANDERS: All right. Time for a quick break. When we come back, D'Arcy talks about her role on "The Good Place." There are spoilers ahead, but we'll warn you. We just did, actually. All right. BRB.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: What improv lessons, skills, stuff do you take to your show, "The Good Place?"

CARDEN: Well, it's, like, this - I don't know how to explain this. It's, like, so deep within me that I almost don't know. (Laughter).

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: It's, like, what my foundation is at this point. I mean, I guess my foundation is just, like, acting, you know? Like, I went to school for theater and Shakespeare and all that stuff. But then getting my, like, comedy foundation there, it's, like, it permeates everything I do, I think. So occasionally on "The Good Place," they will have us improvise. And I say occasionally because it's a weird - it's, like, the scripts on that show are so insanely good...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: ...And tightly written...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...It...

SANDERS: You've just got to get the lines.

CARDEN: Yes.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: And, like, it almost feels like going off on a little tangent. It's, like, how do you get back? We're, like, chugging through.

SANDERS: You've got to stay on that machine. Yeah.

CARDEN: But occasionally, you know, even just to come up with a funnier line, or - God, a funnier line? Yeah, right. Those writers. But, you know. Like, if something's not working, I guess I should say, and they can feel it. And the director or the writer or whatever is like, try some more things.

SANDERS: You know how to do that.

CARDEN: That's where then I'm like, great. This is, like, I got this.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: But I guess, like, making big choices and trusting your - I guess, OK, here's what it is. It's trusting your voice. Trusting your, like, comedic sensibility.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: Humor and being funny is subjective, and it's, you know, what's funny to me isn't necessarily funny to someone else. But I know what I think is funny. I know what feels funny. I know, like, the sound of funny. So...

SANDERS: You trust that.

CARDEN: I trust that. Where maybe...

SANDERS: Years ago you might not have.

CARDEN: Yeah, exactly.

SANDERS: All right.

CARDEN: Does that make sense?

SANDERS: Yeah. We should talk more about "The Good Place." My colleague Anjuli says we have to talk about the big twist.

CARDEN: OK.

SANDERS: Can we? Is that OK?

CARDEN: It's a funny thing. Like, we're about to start shooting season three in a couple weeks. So season - we're talking about the end of season one.

SANDERS: Yeah. All right. If you don't know by now...

CARDEN: I am of two minds because I'm like, if you don't know by now, get on board.

SANDERS: Yes.

CARDEN: But on the other hand, I'm like, it is such a good twist that if you even have the possibility of not being spoiled...

SANDERS: Then don't let it.

CARDEN: I guess just turn it off for a minute.

SANDERS: So then let's say for the next 30 seconds, non "Good Place" watchers, mute us.

CARDEN: Mute us.

SANDERS: So let's describe briefly and quickly...

CARDEN: Quickly. Thirty seconds.

SANDERS: So the show basically is, the main character ends up in what she thinks is heaven by mistake.

CARDEN: Right. Right.

SANDERS: But then...

(LAUGHTER)

CARDEN: So I'll do it really quick. So she thinks she's in heaven. She realizes that she is not supposed to be there 'cause she was not a great person. She is Kristen Bell.

SANDERS: Yes.

CARDEN: And so she's kind of trying to, like, make her way through so that she doesn't get sent to the bad place. And her friends who are in the good place with her try to help her. And then by the end of the first season, the big reveal is - again, mute it if you haven't heard.

SANDERS: But drumroll 'cause it's crazy.

CARDEN: Ted Danson, who plays Michael, who's a good guy this whole time, he reveals in the last episode that, guess what? You're actually in the bad place...

SANDERS: That's crazy.

CARDEN: ...And this whole thing has been set up to, like, torture you. And it is the best twist I've, like...

SANDERS: Really?

CARDEN: It's, like, Shyamalan-level twist.

(LAUGHTER)

CARDEN: Early Shyamalan.

SANDERS: Yeah. When did you find out about the twist?

CARDEN: OK. So there are the four - we call ourselves the four babies. And there's Kristen and Ted, and then the four babies. And the four babies are Will Harper, Manny Jacinto, Jameela Jamil and me.

SANDERS: Why are you all the four babies?

CARDEN: Because this was, like, our first big show...

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: ...And I think that Kristen and Ted have been on shows before. (Laughter).

SANDERS: Yeah. Little bit.

(LAUGHTER)

CARDEN: So Kristen and Ted knew. Mike Schur, the amazing, wonderful showrunner, show creator, he told them the twist right away. So when he pitched them the show, he was like, here's the first season. And for us, it was a different story from day one. I mean, from the audition, it was, like, this was a different thing.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: We read the script. We didn't - the audition sides, like, the script that we got to audition, was not real. Like, it was made up. It was not even our characters. It was just, like, the vibe of our characters. So it was all kind of, like, shrouded in secrecy.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And then we got it, and Mike Schur kind of told us the first few episodes. But then it was just, like, episode by episode. Get a script.

SANDERS: Really?

CARDEN: Yes. And then around episode nine or 10, he brought us into our lunchroom...

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: ...Which was a little scary.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: I was like...

SANDERS: You were like, am I going to get fired?

CARDEN: Yeah. Or, like, are we, the four of us, are we being let go? This is not - it's not been working? OK. You're going to bring in actual famous people? OK.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: But he was like, OK, I want to tell you what the end of the season looks like. And he told us. And we were - the tape - I should say Kristen Bell was recording it.

SANDERS: Recording y'all.

CARDEN: Yes.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: So feel free to Google that or...

SANDERS: What was your - redo your reaction.

CARDEN: My reaction was probably what your reaction was and probably everybody who was - who watched it, which is just like - I think my hands were over my mouth.

SANDERS: Uh-huh.

CARDEN: And then - huge smile when the - when he said the reveal, but then, like, instantly sort of piecing what that means and then, like, being, like, wait. Wait. Wait. What?

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: Like, now everything needs to start...

SANDERS: Everything has changed.

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: Were you mad they didn't tell you sooner?

CARDEN: No. I wasn't mad.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: I was sad...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: ...That these characters were in the bad place.

SANDERS: Yeah, because...

CARDEN: You know, I was like...

SANDERS: You were - I guess you related to the characters.

CARDEN: Yeah. I felt like I knew them and loved them and, you know, it changes everything. But it was almost more like as an audience member...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...Rather than mad or sad as an actor. It - to be honest, like, it was almost a gift because then we...

SANDERS: Wow.

CARDEN: ...Didn't have to play too many...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: We just played what we...

SANDERS: Played what you did.

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: Yeah. Is season three, like, purgatory?

CARDEN: You think I'm going to tell you anything?

SANDERS: (Laughter) I know. You're right.

CARDEN: It - no, season three is - I just - William Jackson Harper, the one who plays Chidi, and I just had lunch with the writers a week or two ago, and they told us, like, what this season looks like and, oh, my God.

SANDERS: Is it bananas?

CARDEN: It's so good.

SANDERS: I'm ready for it.

CARDEN: It's so good. Like, I don't - these writers are so dumb. They're like...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: ...These genius - they are geniuses that also just happen to be, like, the funniest people on earth.

SANDERS: Uh-huh.

CARDEN: But they...

SANDERS: That's crazy.

CARDEN: I feel like the writers' room is like a college class.

SANDERS: Huh.

CARDEN: They're writing books, and they're learning about ethics, and they're learning all this crap that other writers' rooms...

SANDERS: Like, philosophy and ethics stuff?

CARDEN: Yes.

SANDERS: Because the show deals a lot with...

CARDEN: Yes.

SANDERS: ...Like, morality and the afterlife.

CARDEN: It does.

SANDERS: It's heavy.

CARDEN: It's heavy in a weird - like, how is it heavy and light at the same time?

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: But it's like people that know about what we're talking about - philosophy and ethics and all this stuff - people - you know, professors and people that are studying this...

SANDERS: And probably teaching their class - teaching the show.

CARDEN: Truly they are.

SANDERS: Really?

CARDEN: We've had many times that our show is shown in, you know, universities and...

SANDERS: That's great.

CARDEN: Which is great. We love that.

SANDERS: Tell folks a little bit about your character. I want to assume that we're stoked because now we've - spoilers out of the way.

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: Let's assume that half the listeners here have not seen...

CARDEN: OK.

SANDERS: ...Your show yet. Describe your character.

CARDEN: OK. So I play Janet. And Janet is - the easiest way I will explain her is she's like a human version of Siri.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: So, like, this - the hard part is she's not a robot.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: But she's not a human.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And she actually says those two things a lot because people will call her a robot or a girl, and she's - always corrects them. But the thing with Janet is that she has, over the course of two seasons and now going into the third - she has changed a lot. There's been some - I guess we'll let the spoilers fly. There's been some, like, reboots of her...

SANDERS: Uh-huh.

CARDEN: She's been...

SANDERS: A lot.

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: She's been, like, quote, unquote, "murdered" and...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: ...Brought back to life. And, you know...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...Since she's not a human, like, what does that mean? You know, it means something similar to when your, like, phone gets updated or your computer - you know...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...New software. But...

SANDERS: But it's more than that.

CARDEN: ...Also she's starting to feel emotions and maybe, like, fall in love a little bit or maybe not or what the heck - I don't even know. So it has been, like - it has been a weird challenge and something that Mike Schur and I have had to sort of, like, come up with. You know...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...Like, what is this next step? What is this feeling? What is - how far can I go on the, like, human scale?

SANDERS: How far do you want to go?

CARDEN: I mean, it's - when - there was, like, an episode - there was, like, an episode - no.

SANDERS: You can say like.

CARDEN: There is - I know, but why do we? Called "Janet And Michael" - and so that was - it was an episode where Ted and I got to, you know, really dig into our characters. And it was one of the best weeks of my frickin' life...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...Because it was just me and...

SANDERS: Ted Danson.

CARDEN: ...Ted on set every day. And it was a blast. And that was, like, a - I don't know - not - I shouldn't even say a challenge. It was a challenge but, like, not a bad challenge.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: It was great.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: It was like an exploration...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...To see kind of, like, where Janet lives in this, like, emotional world.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: Because it is changing, and things that maybe were set in season one are sort of, like - she's evolving. It's really fun.

SANDERS: Which is crazy because it is - it's a machine...

CARDEN: Right.

SANDERS: ...At its core that's evolving.

CARDEN: Totally.

SANDERS: You know?

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: And, I mean, I'm sure that, like, a lot of the issues that are brought up by your character in the show - people in the real world are thinking about them all the time.

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: You know, like, has doing the show and playing this character made you think any big, new thoughts or come to some new realizations about some of these issues? Like, has it changed your worldview when it comes to this kind of human-not human stuff?

CARDEN: It - I don't - like, I wish I could say - not that you're, like, looking for me to say yes. But I almost wish I could say yes...

SANDERS: Huh.

CARDEN: ...But I don't know that it has.

SANDERS: Why do you wish you could say it?

CARDEN: Because it would be great to have some sort of, like, big epiphany.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And you're, like, now I get it...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...Or something.

SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah.

CARDEN: I mean, I do - I am, like, fascinated by - you know, here's what I'll say.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: I'm, like, fascinated by - and I always have since I was a little kid - this sort of, like, "Pinocchio" story, if that makes sense - like, a Pinocchio...

SANDERS: It's a wooden doll.

CARDEN: Yes.

SANDERS: But it's also, like - it has life.

CARDEN: Yeah. And it just, like, thinks it's a little boy and wants to be a little boy. And, you know, it's - there's something very endearing and...

SANDERS: And tragic.

CARDEN: ...And sort of - yeah, exactly. Like, there - I would - "Pinocchio" for me growing up was, like, the roughest movie I'd ever seen. And - yeah.

SANDERS: Worse than "Bambi."

CARDEN: Yes, worse than "Bambi."

SANDERS: OK (laughter).

CARDEN: What the heck? Which is maybe, like, narcissistic or something...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: ...Because I saw myself in Pinocchio.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: You know, like, the kids - oh, my god. Remember that, like, donkey island? Does that ring a bell?

SANDERS: Oh, yeah. It does. It does. I'm trying to...

CARDEN: Where they, like...

SANDERS: I'm trying to bring it back.

CARDEN: I know. I am, too.

SANDERS: Describe it to me. It's a...

CARDEN: No, they, like - they go - I feel like they went to some island - I don't know why I'm saying island, but let's go with it - an island where they were, like, able to do whatever they want. Like, maybe it was, like, a carnival thing. But then they took it too far and they started turning into donkeys?

SANDERS: People forget, Disney was dark as hell...

CARDEN: Dark.

SANDERS: Until, like, the '90s.

CARDEN: And - yes. I know.

SANDERS: And even then, they killed Mufasa.

CARDEN: Yes, they did. That's dark.

SANDERS: Like, Disney, come on.

CARDEN: This is dark.

SANDERS: Disney did not get woke till, like, 3 years ago.

CARDEN: Is it even?

SANDERS: Is woke even the right word? They just, like, stopped torturing us.

CARDEN: I know. But then, like, Anna and Elsa's parents died in...

SANDERS: Well, there's that theory, you know, that, like, every Disney hero has to have a parent that dies.

CARDEN: Yes. And maybe that is, you know, a hero's journey or whatever.

SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah. They are very much hero's journey story arcs. Anyways...

CARDEN: Where did we...

SANDERS: ...Where did we go (laughter)...

CARDEN: Sam.

SANDERS: (Laughter) It's my fault. It's my fault. "Pinocchio"...

CARDEN: "Pinocchio."

SANDERS: ...And you were talking about how you could relate to that. Why could you as a kid relate to "Pinocchio"? There's some deep stuff there.

CARDEN: I know. I know. And maybe I don't even mean relate. But I think as a kid, I had such a - I guess, like, my biggest fear or my biggest issue as a kid was, like, being taken away from my parents. Whoa.

SANDERS: We're going to go deep this episode.

CARDEN: I know. I know. I know. And in fact, this is - OK, let's go deep. I had a reoccurring nightmare as a child that my older sister Laney and I were in an orphanage...

SANDERS: Oh, my God.

CARDEN: ...And - in kind of like an "Annie" vibe. So we had, like, a...

SANDERS: OK, so a fun orphanage.

CARDEN: But no, because what was - let's think, let's think. Miss Hannigan was, like, a - you know, she was, like, a mean - a mean orphanage runner. Anyway, here's the part that sticks out. Every time I would dream this, my mom and dad would come to adopt us. They would only take my sister.

SANDERS: Oh, my God.

CARDEN: But guess who would adopt me.

SANDERS: Who?

CARDEN: Dracula and Mrs. Frankenstein.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Oh, my God. To all of our psychotherapists listening, email the show and tell us what this means.

CARDEN: Is that her name with the, like, big hair that sticks up, Mrs. Frankenstein?

SANDERS: Miss Dracula, Miss Frankenstein. Was it Miss Frankenstein?

CARDEN: Mrs. Frankenstein?

SANDERS: Dark villains wanted to adopt you.

CARDEN: Yes, two - yes. And I would, like, have to leave the orphanage with them. And I'd see my mom and dad with my sister kind of, like, skipping down the street. And I would be like, take me.

SANDERS: Oh, my God.

CARDEN: I mean, it's - we can go deep. But I have a great family. So what even is that?

SANDERS: (Laughter) What even?

CARDEN: What even is that? My parents love me. I love them. We're all good.

SANDERS: Oh, man. So then it seems like you were always, in your heart of hearts, ready to play a character like this?

CARDEN: Somehow, yeah. Somehow - I mean, I don't know why it clicks for me so well. And I mean that, like, in my, like, actor soul. Like, it feel - it - she has been a challenge, but, like, the best challenge. Like, and at this point, you know, after doing her for two years, or even after doing her for one year, like, coming back for season two, it was, like, I felt like I was so at home with her. I love her.

SANDERS: That's cool.

CARDEN: It is a funny thing. You know, we get different directors, and we get these incredible directors for every episode, usually different ones. A couple times, they've repeated. But - and they know the show well, and they know the scripts well. But, you know, we know our characters the best. And it is a funny thing where a director will suggest something and some little alarm goes off because I'm just like, no, she wouldn't do that. I know she wouldn't do that.

SANDERS: She would never. You know her.

CARDEN: Yeah. Yeah.

SANDERS: Wow.

CARDEN: So I have to just, like, speak my truth. And I have to tell them.

SANDERS: Yeah. If you could talk to her, what's the first thing you'd ask her or say to her?

CARDEN: There's something, like - she's so generous and so helpful and so giving.

SANDERS: She wants to help, yeah.

CARDEN: Like, I want to treat her.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: I'm like, let's go to the spa, girl. Like, what do you want to do today?

SANDERS: Yeah, treat yourself.

CARDEN: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Like, she deserves some - she's so good and giving and positive. I'm like, what do you need?

SANDERS: Has - when you do a character like this in a show like this, does it change the way you approach everyday interactions with artificial intelligence like Alexa or Siri?

CARDEN: Oh, my gosh. This is so funny because it totally does.

SANDERS: How?

CARDEN: Because I - maybe you're the same way. I am very sensitive to these...

SANDERS: No.

CARDEN: ...These women.

SANDERS: I can't stand Alexa.

CARDEN: Is that true?

SANDERS: I curse Alexa out sometimes.

CARDEN: Sam, how dare you.

SANDERS: I know. Just...

CARDEN: She's just trying to help you.

SANDERS: But you know what, though? Alexa, if you want to help me, listen to me.

CARDEN: (Laughter).

SANDERS: Because I'm trying to tell you everything and you - I, like, I yell at Alexa.

CARDEN: Yeah. I do - I - there's a lot of please and a lot of thank you.

SANDERS: Really?

CARDEN: And I do have, like, the desire to almost, like, have a conversation with her, them.

SANDERS: Have you tried to?

CARDEN: Yeah. But they don't - I mean, sometimes they're, like, programmed to say these funny little things. But occasionally, there will be something. Like, you know, if I ask Siri to call my husband, usually it's just like, calling Jason. But sometimes it's like, I'll get right on that for you or something.

SANDERS: Like, sexy Siri.

CARDEN: And I'm like, damn, Siri, you little cutie.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: Yes. I have just - the most recent car I got has, like, a really great - I don't know what - Siri connection, phone, whatever? And wow, she's helpful as hell.

SANDERS: What - how so? Like, what do you...

CARDEN: Texting. You know, like, it is really funny to text people with your voice and then have her read it back - a sentence for you.

SANDERS: Oh, yeah, because they'll read emojis.

CARDEN: I love it.

SANDERS: When they read emojis, it's so awesome.

CARDEN: My favorite is the - my - wait, let me just think. My husband the other day texted me something and ended it with peanut because that is what he calls me.

SANDERS: Aw.

CARDEN: And to hear her say peanut made me laugh, right?

SANDERS: (Imitating Siri) Pea-nut.

CARDEN: So I voice texted him back that - I was like, to hear Siri say peanut is very funny. And then he just wrote back a bunch of emojis, knowing that I would hear them out loud.

SANDERS: Nice.

CARDEN: And so it was a lot of, like, (imitating Siri) smiling pile of poo, smiling pile of poo.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: All right, time for one more quick break. When we come back, D'Arcy talks to me all about growing up in the Bay Area and how she got to LA. Back in a minute.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: How do you - walk me out of your childhood to now.

CARDEN: OK. So I - OK, so my family - mom and dad, sister Laney, who's older, brother Will, who's younger, and sister Miranda...

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: ...Who's younger. That's my fam.

SANDERS: That's a full house...

CARDEN: Full house.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: Super close.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: Three of us live here now.

SANDERS: Really?

CARDEN: Two - my brother and my sister live in Echo Park across the street from each other.

SANDERS: Do they like that?

CARDEN: Yes, we love it.

SANDERS: Do you live - how close are you...

CARDEN: I live in Silver Lake.

SANDERS: ...To the two of them?

CARDEN: I live like...

SANDERS: So you're like...

CARDEN: ...Seven minutes away.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: I see 'em...

SANDERS: So you're the one who chooses to be distant?

CARDEN: No. I - if I could, I would be on their block.

SANDERS: Aw.

CARDEN: And if my older sister in the Bay Area could, she would be on our block, too.

SANDERS: Oh, that's good.

CARDEN: It's - it's like, cheesy, but it just - we just love each other.

SANDERS: Aw.

CARDEN: My brother has new baby twin girls, so we're over there all the time.

SANDERS: Oh. How old are they?

CARDEN: They are about to be 1.

SANDERS: Oh, that's...

CARDEN: ...Astrid and Zephyr.

SANDERS: I like those names.

CARDEN: I do, too.

SANDERS: A and Z - from A to Z.

CARDEN: I know. I know.

SANDERS: OK. OK.

CARDEN: They're cool as hell.

SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah.

CARDEN: OK, so super close family - feel very, very lucky. Gosh, would I dare say blessed?

SANDERS: You could say it.

CARDEN: (Laughter).

SANDERS: You can - #blessed. Own it. Own it.

CARDEN: Own it.

SANDERS: Yeah. Were your parents creatives?

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: They - my dad is a musician.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: And then, in the '70s, my mom and dad started this music magazine called BAM...

SANDERS: Huh.

CARDEN: ...Bay Area Music.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: ...Which was, like, a big, huge, popular magazine in the Bay Area in California...

SANDERS: Nice.

CARDEN: ...In the '70s, '80s and '90s.

SANDERS: Nice.

CARDEN: So we grew up, like, heavily influenced by music.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: That was sort of our everything - religion, whatever it was.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: You know, that was our - currency? I don't even - like, that's - it's, like, how we communicated.

SANDERS: It's just how you lived your life, yeah.

CARDEN: Then I - yeah - had a great - I would say, had a great childhood in the Bay Area, thought I would move immediately to New York the day...

SANDERS: Really? To do what?

CARDEN: To act.

SANDERS: So you knew.

CARDEN: Acting was, like - I knew so early.

SANDERS: How early?

CARDEN: Like, I'm sure a lot of people had experiences like this - like, when you would see - as a child, seeing, like, a kid's play or a ballet or something, and just kind of being like, what? Like, something - the air just changed, you know I mean? Like, I need to do that. It's, like - it consumed me.

SANDERS: Huh.

CARDEN: I don't know how to do that, but I need to do that.

SANDERS: Was there a certain role, a show or a character you saw, where you were like, that's it?

CARDEN: You know what? There - when I was about - I want to say, like, 7 or 8, my dad was in a play - like a church play, community theater type of thing, just a simple play. But seeing someone I knew onstage, then I was like, great; I'm in.

SANDERS: And I can do it, too.

CARDEN: Yeah, exactly. I was like...

SANDERS: Dad can do it; I can do it.

CARDEN: ...Oh, you can do it? Great.

SANDERS: Oh, nice.

CARDEN: ...Then I can do it. And then I told my mom and dad, and they signed me up for some sort of, like, child's acting class - You know, like, community theater stuff.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And with my dad's magazine, he had an office in the Bay Area and an office in LA.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And so during the summers, we would live in LA.

SANDERS: That's cool.

CARDEN: ...Which was fun.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And then, you know, school year, we'd live in the Bay Area. But in LA, we stayed at this interesting little apartment called the Oakwoods (ph). Do you know of this place?

SANDERS: Where is that?

CARDEN: It's in Burbank, but the Oakwood is sort of famous for housing child actors.

SANDERS: I have heard of this before.

CARDEN: Do you know this? Yes. There's, like, a documentary.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: Was it weird or nice?

CARDEN: It was. It was nice, and looking back, it was weird. But at the time, it was just me hanging out with a bunch of kids that were doing what I wanted to do.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: You know, they would be going to auditions for movies and TV, and I would beg my parents to let me go, and they would say no.

SANDERS: Really?

CARDEN: They were like, you can do that when you're 18.

SANDERS: Huh.

CARDEN: But for now, it's just plays.

SANDERS: Huh.

CARDEN: Which felt, like, horrible.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: But of course, looking back...

SANDERS: Do you think it worked out OK?

CARDEN: Yeah, I do.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: But I think it was, like - I remember having, like, a - being really young and having a long conversation with my dad about being able to handle it. Like, I can handle it; I know what you're saying - it's all rejection. I get that, but I'm different; I can handle it. And he just wouldn't have it, which, again, I'm glad for.

SANDERS: So he was right.

CARDEN: He was - I mean, I think it's really hard for kids.

SANDERS: And the chances that - if you're a child TV actor, I feel like the odds are just stacked against you for, like, your adult life.

CARDEN: I think so, too. It's - your - how do I even explain this? As an actor on a set, you are treated strangely. You are sort of treated like - I'm - this is too strong a word, but almost like royalty or something. Like, you are catered to in a way that is truly insane. And...

SANDERS: You're a show dog.

CARDEN: Yes.

SANDERS: Everyone pampers you.

CARDEN: Yes.

SANDERS: But you only have one job.

CARDEN: Right.

SANDERS: And they only think you can do one thing.

CARDEN: Yeah. Right. So you're treated like a baby because you kind of act like a baby.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And I think I feel very lucky. And it's funny, like, you know, trying so desperately to get into TV and movies in my 20s and not succeeding, and you would think - what I was about to say is, I feel lucky that I got it on the later side.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...Because I am so - I know how hard all these jobs are and I've had all these jobs.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And I think there's something about, you know, walking onto a set when you're 17 and being treated like that that can really mess with you.

SANDERS: I'm sure.

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: So you were doing theater as a kid.

CARDEN: Doing theater.

SANDERS: And then you finish...

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: ...High school and you're like, I'm going somewhere?

CARDEN: Yes, finished high school, the plan was to go to New York to be an actor.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And then right around the time that it was time to, like, apply to colleges, I just panicked and thought that was too far away...

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: ...You know? It just...

SANDERS: You love your family. You wanted to be close to them.

CARDEN: Yeah. So I ended up going to school at Southern Oregon University, which is, like, a five-hour drive from where I lived. And it was great. It was, like, super intense sort of theater, like, hardcore theater training. I just, like, consumed...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...Theater in college (laughter).

SANDERS: That's so cool.

CARDEN: I was kind of like a nerd. I didn't party. I didn't go out. I just, like, read plays...

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: ...And went to class.

SANDERS: It worked.

CARDEN: And I got good grades.

SANDERS: What did you do after college?

CARDEN: After college, now, that's when I went to New York immediately.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: You know, struggled my buns off the entire time. That's what New York is.

SANDERS: Did you want to do improv or did you want to act? Did you want to do all of it? Like, what?

CARDEN: I didn't even know - not to say that I didn't know what improv was but I didn't know that you could do improv. I knew that - in comedy, I knew you could be a stand-up and that's about it or you could be, like, Lucille Ball.

SANDERS: (Laughter) Yeah.

CARDEN: Like, I didn't know what - I knew that I liked comedy...

SANDERS: Yes.

CARDEN: ...And I knew that I would always get cast as the funny part in the serious play, you know?

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

CARDEN: So I knew that I could do comedy. I just didn't know what that meant. It meant - yeah, I guess it meant, like, "Saturday Night Live" or a stand-up comedian.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: So I was kind of, like, putzing around New York for a while nannying, waiting tables.

SANDERS: Were you a good waiter? It's hard.

CARDEN: I was a good waiter. I was.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: And I kind of liked it.

SANDERS: Yeah. Why?

CARDEN: No, no, I totally liked it. I had that thought. I remember one day walking to work and being like, I love going here.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CARDEN: I love these people I work with.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: But, you know, it wasn't the dream.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: I like - maybe this is cheesy but, like, all the day jobs I had, I liked them. I loved nannying, temping had its ups and downs. But, like, if you work with, like, good people, it's all good, you know what I mean?

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: So then I - a friend took me to this UCB show. And I knew who Amy Poehler was, who, by the way, is one of the founders of the theater. So I was like, great. I love her. I'll go see the show.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And kind of similarly to, like, what we were talking about before as a kid where you would have that moment of like, what am I looking at? I need to do that. That was walking into that theater and feeling the, like, electricity and then watching - I think we sat in the front row - and watching an ASSSSCAT, which is their sort of, like, flagship show. That's what you saw the other night. It really - I mean, it changed my life maybe more than anything I've ever seen because I was like, that's it.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: I've got to do that.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: I need to be on that stage with those people. I need to be here. And I signed up for class the next day.

SANDERS: Really?

CARDEN: Fun tidbit - when I went to sign up for class, it was, like - it wasn't pre-Internet but it was sort of, like, you know, early 2000s, like...

SANDERS: There wasn't, like, a smart computer in your phone.

CARDEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly. So I had to walk in with my check into the little theater.

SANDERS: Oh.

CARDEN: And the intern who took my application and check, Donald Glover.

SANDERS: Stop it.

CARDEN: Stop it.

SANDERS: Are you serious?

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: Was he cool?

CARDEN: Oh, the best - still is.

SANDERS: And you know what? I have talked now to a few folks that know Donald Glover and everyone sings that man's praises. Everyone loves him.

CARDEN: He is amazing and clearly so special.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And weirdly, like, you know, I guess I should take all of the credit for his success...

SANDERS: Do it. Yeah.

CARDEN: ...Because I knew...

SANDERS: When you - you were like, this one.

CARDEN: Like, the first time I saw him onstage, I was just like, what the hell? He - like, this guy is it.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: You know what I mean?

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And then just kind of, like, watching...

SANDERS: Watching it happen.

CARDEN: ...All the things he did, I was like, this is - he can do whatever he wants forever. And it's been - you know, especially the last few years, it's been, like, incredible to watch.

SANDERS: Oh, yeah. It's, like, it's almost, like, Donald Glover version 2.0...

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: ...Because the Donald Glover that was on "Community" is not the Donald Glover in "Atlanta."

CARDEN: Goodbye, yeah, totally.

SANDERS: That man, he's - yeah, old Taylor is dead (laughter).

CARDEN: Yes, exactly, exactly.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. So you get into UCB, they like you...

CARDEN: It's, you know - yeah. There's so many students there.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And so you saying they liked me, I'm like, yeah, I guess they liked me but they also liked hundreds of other people. So it really was a struggle.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: And it was, you know, you just had to kind of put your head down and take 1 million classes and do - and pay for - you know, well, pay for classes, pay for rehearsal space, do these [expletive] little shows around town for literally two people, maybe 10, maybe 20. You just had to put in the work. And I put in the work. I really happily put in the work. And, you know, after - it wasn't - I didn't just walk onto stage. I had to audition many times.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: And then I can look back on my time there, especially, like, in the beginning, and feel good about, like, I put...

SANDERS: You worked.

CARDEN: ...In the work. Like...

SANDERS: Was there a moment where you were like, gosh, this might not work, this is too much?

CARDEN: Yeah. I mean, yes and no.

SANDERS: OK.

CARDEN: Like, I definitely was like, this might not work as far as they might not - like, I might not work for them, meaning I might just, you know - I love this. I feel like I'm doing it well or I feel like I'm doing good at it, but I'm not getting cast on the house team or, you know, you kind of go, like, oh, I maybe missed my chance or whatever. This is the life of an actor, though is like you're constantly like, I like it. I think I'm doing good, but obviously...

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: ...It hasn't worked out and there are 1 million other people trying to do this so how can I - you know, it is hard.

SANDERS: Yeah.

CARDEN: It's hard. It is a hard career choice. And it is constant rejection and doubting yourself. And, you know, you sort of - that's the thing about, like, UCB is, you have to love it because it is a lot of money and a lot of work.

SANDERS: Yeah. So you're doing it. What gets you from doing UCB in New York to still doing UCB but the show here in LA now?

CARDEN: So after doing, you know, many years of UCB in New York, my husband, who's a producer, was - he was freelancing, and then we just decided we wanted to move to LA. And then because New York is this weird, magical place, the next week, then he got hired at SNL to do production there.

SANDERS: Wow. That is, like...

CARDEN: ...Which was crazy.

SANDERS: ...Pinnacle.

CARDEN: Yes. And it truly was, like, we were - we had made peace with, like, we are leaving.

SANDERS: Leaving. And then you just had to stay.

CARDEN: We are leaving our home. And then we were like, well...

SANDERS: Actually...

CARDEN: I think we'll stay a couple more years. And two of our best friends had just been hired as writers there, so we were like, this is going to be our life for a couple years.

SANDERS: It worked, yeah.

CARDEN: And it was great. And we loved it and had a blast and, you know, would go to the show every Saturday and stay out until 6 in the morning.

SANDERS: Oh, wow.

CARDEN: And it was, like, a very fun time in our life. But after a couple of years that, you're like, no way. Yeah. Yeah. Jason would leave for work on, like, a Wednesday and, like, come home on a Saturday.

SANDERS: Wow.

CARDEN: It was a lot, you know. So then we - then he got hired at a job out here. He was going to be a producer at Funny Or Die. And so we just thought that would be a good reason to come out here - and lived in a little apartment in Hancock Park. But it was bigger than...

SANDERS: I love Hancock Park.

CARDEN: Yeah. It was, like, cheaper and bigger than our place...

SANDERS: This is LA. This is LA.

CARDEN: Yeah, it was...

SANDERS: Whenever New Yorkers get here, they're just like, what?

CARDEN: Yes. We were like, closet space? We have a linen closet?

SANDERS: There's, like, a little space once you open the front door. There's just, like, a little space.

CARDEN: Wait. What is this space?

SANDERS: How does that work?

CARDEN: Yeah. Exactly. And so that's - it's been four or five years that we've been here and, you know, just kind of struggling and auditioning and still doing UCB shows. And then it's just the way it sometimes happens. You just luck out and, you know...

SANDERS: And here you are.

CARDEN: And here I am.

SANDERS: You told GQ once, quote...

CARDEN: Quote.

SANDERS: "Acting is such a sad, little desperate job where every job interview is you begging for a job. And it happens every day. And you have no control. And it's just this sad, little thirsty job. The trick is to be confident and to not be thirsty. That's how you get the job. It's an effing mind F."

CARDEN: (Laughter) Sorry.

SANDERS: "Don't get into it. We did the hard thing." What makes you want to stay in something this hard?

CARDEN: I know. I know.

SANDERS: Is it really that hard?

CARDEN: I mean, it is really that hard. And, you know, it's not like digging ditches, so I don't mean to say that. It's not, you know...

SANDERS: Yeah, but it's spiritual, emotional work.

CARDEN: Yes, exactly. It's, like, hard on your soul. And, you know, I do think I'm, like, the type of person that takes rejection well and can - you know, it doesn't necessarily - like, I have a thick skin.

SANDERS: That's good because I have the thinnest skin.

CARDEN: Do you?

SANDERS: If I get, like, a wrong piece of punctuation in an email sent to me, I'm like, oh, what are you saying?

CARDEN: Oh, right.

SANDERS: You know?

CARDEN: That would be hard for this because it really is - like, imagine if you have five auditions in a week - by the way, congratulations. That's even...

SANDERS: Even getting five.

CARDEN: Yes. So that's even part of it, is like, oh, I have these, like, interviews for maybe getting a job. But even getting the interview is...

SANDERS: Is, like, hard.

CARDEN: Yes. So if you - like, you have five auditions in a week, congratulations. You go into these things. And you are so desperate for a job. But the only way you will get hired is if you don't seem desperate, right? And it can feel really soul crushing and icky. You know, if I - the only advice I would give to any, like, struggling actors out there, which - of which I am still definitely one - trust me, trust me.

SANDERS: Struggle's always real, huh?

CARDEN: Yeah. It's just about, like, faking confidence - you know? - faking confidence until you make confidence. Fake it till you make it. I have that on a painting in my kitchen that my...

SANDERS: That's a good place to have it.

CARDEN: My brother drew a picture of a rooster. It says, fake it till you make it.

SANDERS: Love it.

CARDEN: Yeah.

SANDERS: What would you tell, like, your 18-year-old self just starting this journey?

CARDEN: I think I would just say like, have patience and know that it's - it won't necessarily happen for you at the rate or at the speed in which you think it will. And put your head down, and do good work.

SANDERS: Do the work, yeah.

CARDEN: Yeah. Do the work.

SANDERS: This is my daily prayer.

CARDEN: Yes.

SANDERS: Lord, help me find my lane. Lord, help me stay in my lane, and help me move in my lane at the appropriate speed.

CARDEN: Yes, Sam.

SANDERS: That's it. There you go.

CARDEN: That's it.

SANDERS: We did it.

CARDEN: Woo (ph). "Tell Me When To Go."

SANDERS: Hey. Oh, she got it. She got it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TELL ME WHEN TO GO")

E-40: (Singing) Tell me when to go.

SANDERS: It's such a good song because it's really so simple.

CARDEN: It really is.

SANDERS: It's just, like, dance now, go ahead. I love it. This was delightful, seriously.

CARDEN: Sam, you are.

SANDERS: You are. You made a rainy day sunny in my heart.

CARDEN: Sunny - oh, good.

SANDERS: Thank you.

CARDEN: Thanks for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TELL ME WHEN TO GO")

E-40: (Rapping) Jesus Christ had dreads, so shake them. I ain't got none, but I'm planning on growing some.

SANDERS: D'Arcy, thank you. That was actress and comedian D'Arcy Carden. We really had fun with that chat. And you heard it here first, guys - they're going to let us crash the set of "The Good Place." It's been promised. Also, special thanks to E-40 for being E-40.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TELL ME WHEN TO GO")

E-40: (Rapping) Tell me when to go. Tell me when to go.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: And before we go, got to make an exciting, exciting announcement for all of you. I'm going to drumroll it. (Drumming) You can announce it, too, Anjuli. Say it.

ANJULI SASTRY, BYLINE: Live show in Chicago.

SANDERS: Oh, that was great (laughter). So as my colleague Anjuli Sastry told you guys, we're doing a live show in Chicago on May 15 at the Old Town School of Folk Music. We'll have some special guests we'll announce in time. Tickets go on sale this Friday. We'll have a link for you on Twitter, et cetera. Follow us there @NPRItsBeenAMin - M-I-N. This show's going to be fun. I love Chicago. I love live shows. Be there if you can. All right, we're back in your feeds Friday with more good things. Talk soon.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

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