Go behind the scenes on my Kate McKinnon kids and money video
Standing outside of the Brooklyn soundstage that morning, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. In a career that spans more decades than I want to admit, I’ve done hundreds of TV and video shoots. Heck, I’d even co-starred opposite Elmo in Sesame Workshop’s For You, For Me, For Later. (I taught America’s favorite furry red monster to save.)
But working with Kate McKinnon? The brilliant Saturday Night Live comic who’s nailed everyone from Hilary to Justin Bieber to The Notorious R.B.G.? Not since I chit-chatted about financial literacy with former Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers Alan Krueger had I been so starstruck. (Only half kidding!) Sure, I once told Bruno Mars he should keep his money in cash (and he sweetly asked if I meant in a suitcase, which was in fact a good question), but was I prepared for Not Ready for Primetime greatness? Yes, it was a special day.
Kate didn’t disappoint. She breezed in right on time (very professional), wearing what she’d wear on camera—except for a supercool pair of fake glasses (which, I realized, were just like mine, except that mine are much needed). Together we met the three adorable children who’d be talking money basics with us. Justine, Ricky, and Jillian were the kind of cute, whip-smart kids that make a mom with two teens and one twentysomething long to be a babysitter. (I wouldn’t go so far as to say have another kid, but you get the idea.)
Watch kids talk about money
It had been a ridiculously exciting week already. Just two days before, I’d learned that Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not) had hit the New York Times bestseller list. Before I knew it, I blurted out this news to Kate. (Very uncool, I thought to myself as soon as it came out of my mouth.)
After going over what she’d be asking the kids, we discussed our own money experiences growing up. Not surprisingly, this comic genius is pretty darn smart about money too. She said her parents talked about money, particularly investments, with her when she was growing up. Kate also said this was the first time she had worked with little kids, which was hard to believe because the moment she walked on-set, her three junior co-stars were obviously intrigued by her. And they were too little to have seen SNL.
Before the shoot, I’d come up with a bunch of questions she could ask the kids. But there wasn’t any script to follow, per se. After a quick turn in the hair and makeup chair, we were on set with the cameras rolling. Kate just did what she does better than anyone: improv. Using the questions as a guide, she riffed with the kids about everything from saving money to what they wanted to be when they grew up. The kids’ responses were fun and totally unfiltered. At times, everyone on set—including the crew—had to bite their tongues to keep from laughing out loud. There was so much good stuff I didn’t think we’d ever be able to edit the video down to shorter than epic length.
(Some great moments that ended up on the cutting-room floor: Kate’s “advice” that the best thing to spend money on was … a boat; Jillian and Kate talking about tax-free municipal bonds (and how Jillian goes through her parents’ wallets to check that they are not spending too much); an in-depth discussion of the benefits of being a “gagitator”; and the fact that Kate would be worth roughly “a thousand million and one” dollars in ransom money.)
At the break, Kate drank an iced coffee (black) and nibbled on avocado toast.
When it was time for my scenes, I just tried to breathe and get through it. Truth is, it was all a bit surreal. When Lorne Michaels’s Above Average production company agreed to help me make this video to convey the importance of financial literacy, I never dreamed that Kate McKinnon would be interested in the topic and willing to sign on. I remembered my lines, and even more exciting, Kate remembered what I’d told her about Make Your Kid a Money Genius—and ad-libbed it into her introduction of me! I was so thrilled.
Before Kate left (she had to dash to a table read at SNL), we hugged and took the requisite photos. Then, just like that, I was standing back in front of the soundstage. But this time instead of feeling nervous, I was buzzing with excitement about what we had just done: We’d made a funny but informative video about a serious subject that I’ve spent my career working on—teaching our kids the financial facts of life. I hope you laugh—and learn—as much as I did.
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