Brace yourself boys, Mrs. Maisel is back in the stand-up spotlight. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” the comedy with eight Emmys under its (Borscht) belt, returns for Season 2 on Amazon Prime starting Wednesday, December 5. The promotional trailer for show’s new season has young Jewish housewife and fledgling comic Mrs. Maisel announcing, “One year ago my old life ended and my new life began.” What follows is delightful.
There are 10 binge-worthy episodes to savor the lush feel of the production set in New York City in 1950s, with side trips to Paris and the Catskills this season. The retro adventure comes from the fast-paced fertile mind of creator-producer-writer-director Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls). Rachel Brosnahan plays Midge Maisel, who thought her Upper West Side life was amazing until she got a taste of being a comedienne. Now she’s determined to make her mark in the male dominated comedy club arena. And she will because she’s good—actually, she’s unbelievably great.
Without giving too much away, at the Television Critics Association’s summer 2018 press tour, Sherman-Palladino talked about the show which already has a third season commitment from Amazon. The Emmy-winning Brosnahan, who also won the Television Critics’ TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy, was also on hand for the Amazon interview panel along with executive producer Daniel Palladino and co-stars Tony Shalhoub, Marin Hinkle, Alex Borstein (who won a supporting Emmy playing Mrs. Maisel’s scene-stealing agent), Michael Zegen, and Kevin Pollak.
So, has success changed Brosnahan? Rachel said, “I get asked that a lot, and the truth is, it doesn’t feel like a whole lot has changed. We’re so lucky to be working on this project that we love, and that other people love as much as we do. The show came out, people liked it, and I have a trophy (her Emmy) on my toilet, and then we started shooting Season 2. So I don’t really have a great answer to that, other than hopefully more people tune in. I guess I’m more exhausted.”
Because Brosnahan has nailed her comedienne character so believably, this reporter had to ask Rachel if she has gone to nightclubs for open mic night to do stand-up comedy routines to help get into the skin of her character?
Rachel told me that playing Midge with her impeccable comedic timing works because it’s on the page and her role is beautifully written, and she would “absolutely not” want to try an open mic night anywhere. Brosnahan said, “I can’t imagine anything braver, and I am not that brave. I think we discussed it very briefly early on. When we were in rehearsals Amy said that that she would write something for me and shove me out on the stage. And I think I ran the other way, as fast as I possibly could. Thankfully, the writing is so brilliant, so sharp, so smart, and I’ve had a lot of help from these guys (her co-stars) in finding the timing in that, as well.”
Executive producer Daniel Palladino also noted that Rachel has a huge advantage when she films her nightclub scenes that real comics don’t have. He explained, “Her audiences on the show are sober and paid by us to laugh at certain points. But mostly sober, so that makes it a little easier.”
But Brosnahan has done her research and made the rounds of the comedy clubs to see brave women get out there and grab a mic and earn their laughs with their comedy routines. She said, “I spent hours and hours watching, and dragged Michael Zegen (who plays Midge’s estranged husband Joel, who also wants to be a stand-up comic) along with me to a few of them. I really enjoyed watching beginning comics try out new material. That was something I felt that I learned the most from, watching them succeed and fail unexpectedly, and how they dealt with both of those things.”
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 2, starts December 5 on Amazon Prime. Tune in.
Margie Barron is a member of the Television Critics Association and has written for a variety of top publications for more than 38 years, and was half of the husband and wife writing team of Margie and Frank Barron.