A day on the set: Behind the scenes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

This past November, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with some long-lost friends. Old acquaintances, lovers, and everyone in between (read: girls from sleepaway camp) came out of the woodwork to text me, “Is this you?!!” along with a screenshot of the finale of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Yes, that was me. There, in my 1950s turtleneck, with my one line, I made my TV debut on the now Emmy-nominated Amazon series.

As this was my first ever TV audition (and my first booked role), the week leading up to it felt like a dream. I got the notice and auditioned the next day, ’cause TV moves fast and wreaks havoc on the normal 9-5 employee.

I usually try to keep quiet about my auditions, so as to not jinx them, and I usually fail. My Maisel audition was no exception. I blabbed about it everyone I could (my roommates, my boyfriend, my Jewish mother to whom the show spoke very heavily) and then spent every remaining waking hour preparing my scene. I said the lines over and over again, in a way that made me laugh. (Why yes, I do crack myself up sometimes! Don’t you?)

I also asked myself: What made me special as a comedian? What was going to get me booked over, say, the approachable blonde woman sitting next to me who looked infinitely more TV-ready and had more credits under her belt? I felt like a little rat-girl with something to prove. Answering these questions was how I settled on the exact delivery of my lines. It had to be in my voice, in my specific brand of comedy (which is still developing, and that’s okay. I’d been honing my voice for a year through live performances, and now was no time to abandon it.) I also plundered my closet for the most mid-century dress I could find, and sewed on an extra button to make sure it stayed closed during my audition, as this had been an issue with the dress in the past.

In the audition room, I took a deep breath, tried to remain steady even as the reader raced through her side of the lines, and did my scene. Afterwards, I fretted that I had showed them too much of “me” and not enough of what they wanted. Guess what, inner-negative-Nellie? I was wrong. My manager called me the next to day to tell me that while they didn’t think I was right for the part I’d read for, they thought I was “so funny” that they cast me in another role.

I trekked out to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in for my costume fitting at Steiner Studios that same night. Whose fast-and-furious life was this? Certainly not mine, a lowly customer-service rep at a men’s shaving startup who, unbeknownst to her, was about to get fired from said job.

I was ecstatic. Then, I was nervous. I’d worked in production before (another article for a much later time when everyone I’ve worked with is either dead  or too senile to read my scathing tell-all), and I knew just how many people, places, and things it took to create an episode of television. What if I didn’t know where to go on set? What if they told me to do something and I didn’t know what it meant? What if my phone buzzed while we were rolling? What if I got edited out?!

None of these things happened. Here’s what did:

August 21st – 7pm: The Night Before

I receive my call time. My call time is not the crew call time, a mistake I’ve made before. I have my own call time, specially scheduled for me. I check it once. I check it twice. I triple-check it. I cannot afford to be late and, presumably, blacklisted from the industry. This is my first TV job and I must make a good impression. I am a principal actor for the day, so I am important. I am basically the #1. The production rests on my shoulders.

My call time is 1pm, which is is a nice call time. It means I can shower, which I assume is the polite thing to do before letting people touch your hair and face. The extra sleep will ensure that I am well-rested and emotionally prepared for my one line.

August 22nd – 12:15 pm: The Day Of

I arrive on set. I’m way too early, and I know that’s not convenient because no one is there to meet me at the campers. The campers, if you’re wondering, are the big long white trailers that you see taking up all the good parking spaces during the weekday. They are full of dressing rooms and they usually have the Desi and Lucy signs, not because there’s been a 12-years-in-the-making biopic about Lucille Ball, but because it’s funny and an homage to the old TV sets of yore. I walk to a nearby cafe. I am too nervous to eat, so I only order tea, which I’m too nervous to drink, and sit there for 30 minutes. Also, I pay with credit card, which is so obnoxious. The waitress gives me death glares.

12:45: I return to the campers. I approach a PA and tell him that I have arrived. He walkies the the First Team production assistant, a woman with a cool hairstyle and a cooler name (that I immediately forget. Spike? Frankie? Gone.). She puts me in my dressing room and gives me paperwork to sign. I have not even dug my pen out of my bag when I am whisked off to hair and makeup.

1 pm: I play a spoken-word poet from the 1950s, so for makeup, I get … eyeliner. My hair, on the other hand, takes about an hour, since they have to make my long locks seem short — an illusion, the magic of television. I end up what what I think looks like a housewife’s hairdo, but actually was a hip hairstyle at the time. Period pieces. Did I mention I got my facial piercing removed for this? Well, I did. We all make sacrifices for our craft.

At hair-and-makeup, I’m sitting next to a woman I saw at the auditions. Turns out neither of us got the part we auditioned for, but both got cast in other roles. We chat. She’s very nice. I like making friends on set because besides having the obvious in common, what greater “this is how we met” story is there?

2 pm: My hair and makeup are done. I am put into a van with a couple of crew members and two other actors who will be my Best Friends For The Day. We are driven to the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel stages in Brooklyn. Yes, I woke up in Brooklyn, came to Manhattan to get my makeup done, and went back to Brooklyn to film my scene. Showbiz, baby!

3 pm: We arrive back on set. I am taken to my onstage dressing room, and am delighted to find that there is a bathroom and a bunch of mirrors. I take pictures and send it to my family, so they can understand that I have hit the big time. I have a bathroom! In my (second) dressing room of the day! My costume is in there, so I try it on. My boobs are pointy and ready for action.

3:30 pm I go back to hair and makeup so they can make sure their work matches with the costume I’m now in. I don’t bring my purse down with me, and they want to see it with the purse. I go back upstairs and get my purse. Did I mention  that I have a First Team PA on me at all times? That means there’s always someone to bring me from point A to point B. I could say “I want to go to my McDonalds” and they would accompany me there, even though there’s a more convenient McDonalds right down the block. I don’t make this kind of request because I don’t like McDonalds, but one day I might.

4 pm We break for lunch. I don’t feel as though I’ve been working hard enough to deserve a break, but union rules are union rules, and the crew has been working hard and they need lunch. I eat chicken (it’s very good!) and drink water and hang out with my two new Best Friends Of the Day. We go over how we got these roles and who reps us. I like hearing how everyone got to this place in their lives, because every single story is a combination of hard work and sheer luck. I feel lucky to be here.

5 pm We meet to rehearse. We sit in a circle and go over our lines with the the creator and the director of this ep, Amy Sherman-Palladino. I am nervous and intimidated by the sheer popularity of Gilmore Girls (Sherman-Palladino’s other show), so I mess up my one line. She corrects me and I already know she thinks hiring me was a mistake. Then I remember that it was a little stumble, about which she doesn’t care, so neither do I. Okay!

5:30-11 pm Cameras roll! And roll and roll and roll. Basically, each shot goes like this: The cameras set up. The principal actors and extras come in and we rehearse to make sure the shot works with everyone moving. The makeup/costume people check to make sure everything looks good on the people-side. Then we film it a few times. Then onto the next shot. Rinse, repeat.

When we film my closeup, the director asks me to pace up my line. I say “what?” because even though I know what “pace” and “up” mean, the two together confuse me. She says to make it faster. I say okay. And then I do. And all the while, I know she is thinking, “Why did we hire this stupid, short girl who speaks at the pace of a snail and doesn’t even know her line?” And yet she still didn’t edit me out. So thank you, Amy.

We do the scene over and over again. It’s only about a page, but it takes six hours, which is normal. The cameras focus on different people, and different angles on different people. Sometimes, the cameras have to set up in an entirely different part of the room, so everyone clears out and waits in “holding.” I take selfies with my new best friends. We’re gonna keep in touch when this is over, i just know it. But it is a long day of standing around and not moving until you’re told. Sometimes, if you’re not in the background of a shot, you can just hang out. Usually, though, you’re on your feet. It’s fun. It’s tiring. It’s nowhere near as tiring as being a crew member. I do get cheese, though. It’s on the craft-services table.

11 pm: I am wrapped. The crew still has one more short scene to film, but my scene is done. I go upstairs (with my trusty First Team PA), change out of my costume, check in with the PA they told me to check in with, and grab a Lyft. It is raining, and I am soaked waiting for the Lyft. I take out my 100,000 bobby pins in the car.


SOPHIE ZUCKER (T.A.) is a comedian-slash-child-star who loves musicals and slime. She has appeared in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and has written and produced videos for Jill Soloway’s wifey.tv. She wrote, produced, and starred in a million sold-out shows in New York and is now a TV writer in L.A.. @mightyzucks


How To Do Comedy: A Workshop For Girls + Others

An online course that's actually funny!

OMG! Sign me up!

I Lived It: The fun fact I shared at orientation was a lie

I’ve never considered myself a dishonest person. I’ve always been a communicative girlfriend; an honest best friend; and, in my more recent years, a candid daughter (my mother was not thrilled to learn about the hit-and-run, but I know we’re stronger for it).

So when I stood up at Dylan&Josh’s weekly Team Meeting, I never expected to lie. After all, Dylan&Josh is the important men’s lifestyle brand that bravely fights to deliver high-end toothpaste to males, and I had just been entrusted with the role of their head of sales of their radical product. According to the company handbook, the mission requires us to be transparent. And brave. And progressive. And fashionable. And scrappy. And wildly successful. We are all of these things, and they never conflict with one another. In that moment, I wanted the CEOs, Alex and Alex (Dylan & Josh were names that tested well with male audiences), to know that they weren’t making a mistake by hiring me.

At Dylan&Josh, Team Meetings are no ordinary town-hall gatherings. Team Meeting is a blast! And by “blast,” I mean new hires share fun facts about themselves at every meeting. These range from “I hiked Kilimanjaro with my dude Justin” to “I hiked the Appalachian Trail with my dude Justin.” Team Meeting is truly so fun and different from normal corporate meetings, I practically want to gouge my eyeballs out, rip of all the premature-balding men’s hair in the company, and scream “CAPITALISM IS LEGIT EVIL AND UR ALL COMPLICIT LOL!!!!” Yeah, it’s a good time.

I had been planning my fun-fact for weeks. I had the perfect one to convey to the rest of the company that I, too, grew up white and wealthy, but in an offbeat way. When the microphone got passed to me (our start-up only consists of 30 people, but you better believe our Team Meeting takes place in a stadium because that’s fun and an appropriate use of resources!), I calmly stood and cleared my throat.

“Hi, I’m Angela, the new head of sales, and my fun fact is that I was a Junior Olympic archer in high school.” This elicited oohs and ahh’s from the crowd. I sat down, my cheeks burning. My co-workers probably assumed that I was uncomfortable with public speaking. Of course, had they seen me on the witness stand following my pesky little felony, they would’ve thought differently. The truth is, I wasn’t a Junior Olympic Archer in high school. I was training to be one, but I never actually made it to Nationals.

This isn’t rare. Most of the girls on my high school team didn’t make it to nationals. Nationals was highly competitive! So, what compelled me to sputter such a downright lie? A falsity? I guess, at this company where production speaks volumes, I wanted to show that I produced results. So I lied. I said I had a marker of success when, in reality, my passion for archery had merely helped me develop a strong work ethic, the ability to collaborate with a team, and a passion for being active. Who gave a crap about those things?

In the following hours, I felt like I had a target on my back. This was worse than being the only woman working at a men’s lifestyle startup! Everywhere I went, I felt eyes on me. Could they tell I was lying? Did they think I was a fraud? Did Alex & Alex no longer trust me to do my job at Dylan&Josh? I started to get hives. Luckily, the Product team was developing a new men’s skincare line; I tried out the beta and it made my hives disappear.

By the time they reappeared in a vastly brighter hue (turns out the skincare line had bypassed a few important QA iterations in the rush to disrupt the market before Elon’s Musk could launch), I had left the company — they found out about my history of manslaughter before uncovering my massive alternatruth — but I have chosen to reframe this as a valuable lesson. Lying is not a core value. From now on, I strive to be truthful and honest.

Also, if you could fill my canteen balance, I’d appreciate it. Orange may be the new black, but ramen noodles are still the only thing you can safely eat in prison.


SOPHIE ZUCKER (T.A.) is a comedian-slash-child-star who loves musicals and slime. She has appeared in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and has written and produced videos for Jill Soloway’s wifey.tv. She wrote, produced, and starred in a million sold-out shows in New York and is now a TV writer in L.A.. @mightyzucks

Stay GOLDen

Sign up for our newsletters


Wow! These sisters are twins, but one is seven years younger

In the mid-2000’s, a pair of conjoined twins, Abby and Brittany Hensel, made a splash. They graced The Oprah Winfrey Show, appeared—twice!—on the cover of LIFE magazine, and were the subject of a Discovery Health Channel documentary. The Hensel twins are a fascinating duo, not just born at the same time but also sharing the same body. They’ve been the one of the most unusual cases of twins—until now.

Sue and Cara Zeitgeist are twins living on the remote island of Manhattan. They are identical in every way, both sporting long brown hair, watery blue eyes, and too much eyeliner. They enjoy all the same activities.

“We both love puppies, we both do musical theater, and we both cannot stop listening to the new Taylor Swift album. We’re twins!” says Sue.

“Literally same,” adds Cara.

The twins are alike in every respect except for one: Their age. That’s right. These twins arrived seven years apart. Sue was born in 1993; Cara, 2000. But how is such a thing possible? For an explanation, we went straight to the (literal) source: Their mother.

“We don’t have twins,” she said. “Our girls are not twins. You really shouldn’t call them twins, it’s a very dumb joke. In fact, my husband and I specifically planned to have our girls 7 years apart, which is what we did.”

Medically, this 7-year defect is very rare. Twins are typically born with a bit of a delay — a few minutes to a few hours. Some even have separate birthdays, due to being born just before and just after midnight. The Zeitgest girls were not only born 7 years apart, but Ms. Zeitgest went out of labor and then back into labor in the time between Sue and Cara’s births.

Sue recalls, “I lived a full life before my twin, Cara, was born. It was like I was an only child, and then I had a twin.”

These girls are twins, no doubt about it. They have the same favorite meal (“sushi!!!”); they both do their homework on Macbook Airs; they share an obsession with velvet; and they are addicted to wearing each other’s shoes. Additionally, they claim a certain telepathic twin-feeling, the sort that many twins have been known to report.

“I feel when Sue is upset. Usually because she yells at me,” Cara confides.

“It’s scary how she can tell,” Sue confirms. “Just because I’m screaming in her ear.”

The twins admit it can be difficult to be constantly having to explain themselves.

“People have a certain expectations of what twins are,” Sue says, “You know like the girls who played the Parent Trap twins or the twins from The Social Network. Sometimes, we just get tired, so we say we’re sisters.”

“It’s just easier,” Cara nods.

It’s true that if you look closely, you can almost identify the 7-year age difference. There’s a slight 5-inch difference in height, and a miniscule 30-pound difference in weight. Additionally, Sue has years of liver-damage from drinking legally, and Cara’s been semi-responsible, and her organs are in relatively good condition.

“At the end of the day, we love each other, and we love the fact that we’re twins,” Sue says, hugging Cara.

“We really love the fact that we’re twins,” Cara agrees, in a slightly strangled voice from being hugged so tightly. “Probably more than we love each other.”


SOPHIE ZUCKER (T.A.) is a comedian-slash-child-star who loves musicals and slime. She has appeared in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and has written and produced videos for Jill Soloway’s wifey.tv. She wrote, produced, and starred in a million sold-out shows in New York and is now a TV writer in L.A.. @mightyzucks


Stay GOLDen

Sign up for our newsletters


Woman so hungry she could eat regularly portioned meal

On Tuesday, area woman Lara Wilcox walked into The Ground, an ironically named triple-story cafe, to meet her friends for lunch. On this Tuesday, however, Wilcox was particularly hungry, having done a double spin-class at SoulSuck and using the last of her groceries on her three doting kids, because she’s a woman who can do it all. Wilcox reports she felt her “stomach, like, grumbling” as she entered the third story of The Ground. This was when Wilcox’s friend group noticed her unusual behavior. Wilcox announced to friends that she was in the mood for a Caesar salad with chicken, and a side of potato chips. Shockingly, Wilcox’s extreme hunger had caused her to make a rational decision about her food.

This approach marks a shift from Wilcox and friends’ past behavior. At previous lunches, the ladies have been known to order “just a salad” or “only a side,’ but rarely both.

“We save money this way,” friend Bethany Miller explained.

“Bethany, we’re all rich,” this from Karen Benson, who has been known to order only juices for breakfast, lunch, and the occasional dinner.

“She’s right. Women don’t eat full meals, it’s like, ordering an appropriately caloric meal as a woman is like running for president: kind of stupid and bad,” Miller clarified.

Wilcox’s behavior appears to have thrown her friend group into a tailspin. Splitting the check was difficult, as they didn’t all owe their usual $7 + tax. Wilcox owed more, and even after offering to pay tip, she realized she would have to do some Venmo’ing. Her friends were not pleased.

“It takes two days to transfer money from Venmo to your account, and I can’t afford that kind of wait time,” Miller reported.

“Bethany, we’re all rich,” Benson chimed in.

Wilcox appears to be reeling from the incident, claiming, “I don’t know what I was thinking.” Wilcox admits that having been “absolutely starving” was no excuse for shelling out $21 for some vegetables and a protein. She vows to never order an appetizer and a side again.

Wilcox has since sought counseling from a reverse-nutritionist, who wished to remain anonymous for legal reasons. This reverse-nutritionist advises her patients on how to make the restrictive choice for lunch and ignore hunger cues. Her practice revolves around a simple mantra she suggests her patients repeat: “Do Not Listen To Your Body, You Dumb Slut.”

In an online statement, she writes: “I went to grad school for this stuff, and all I kept hearing was how ricecakes are not a meal, and in our day and age, more women have disordered eating than not, and blah blah blah. I mean, it’s all true, but it sucks to deal with. So I don’t.”

The Ground says business has suffered since Wilcox made her healthy decision. Patrons are afraid it will happen to them—that they too will be enticed to order an appetizer with carbohydrates, protein and vegetables. The Ground, however, refused to comment on the rumor that they are intending to sue Wilcox for damaging their brand.

Wilcox’s friends have vowed to pray for Wilcox and the community in the wake of Wilcox’s food choice.

“I just hope she finds the help she needs, and if push comes to shove, we can raise the funds to support her in her endavors,” Miller pleaded.

“Bethany,” Benson added, her voice catching, “We’re all rich.”

 


​Sophie Zucker is a Brooklyn-based comedian-slash-child-star who loves musicals and slime. She’s 24. Sophie has trained at Second City, UCB, Under the Gun, and Annoyance NY and performed at most of those places, too. Her show Nervosa: The Musical!, a puppet musical about eating disorders, had an extended 8 week run at Annoyance Theater, as well as a slot at Cinder Block Comedy Festival. Her show Baby Ian Falls Down a Well had a sold-out one month run at Annoyance Theater and an additional one-month run at The PIT. Baby Ian was Time Out NY’s pick of the week. She’s also written and produced videos for Jill Soloway’s wifey.tv. You can find her performing with Ladies Who Ranch (an all-female bit show) at Vital Joint, FIONA (an improvised sketch team) at South 4th Bar, and Ground Floor Comedy (an online sketch collective, partner of JASH). Catch her in the upcoming Amazon series Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Or watch a Taking Back Sunday music video she starred in at 12-years-old, when she was her current height but not her current weight. Follow her @mightyzucks. (Bleecker Street Entertainment/CESD)

Stay GOLDen

Sign up for our newsletters