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NBC's newest laugh factory stars an SNL alum

Ana Gasteyer takes on big business in "American Auto." #k5evening

LOS ANGELES — She shot to fame on Saturday Night Live back in the '90s. But these days, Ana Gasteyer is running a car company on NBC's "American Auto," a new workplace comedy from some of the same people who brought us "The Office" and "Superstore."

"The values of the company versus the values of the individuals," Gasteyer said. "That's the nature of the conflict that creates comedy."

The show manufactures laughs from some high-risk sources, including workplace relationships and racism. But Gasteyer says the cast is in the capable hands of creator Justin Spitzer.

"He has a real ear for cultural discord and what might be funny about it," Gasteyer said.

Gasteyer plays a newly hired CEO with zero car business experience.

Has she ever, in real life, taken on a job for which she didn't have the appropriate background?

"I kind of always do, right?" she said. "That's what acting really is. You're constantly faking it and pretending you know what the hell you're doing. There's plenty of times that we all feel like a charlatan. It's 'imposter syndrome' or whatever they call it. We all have it."

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But playing everything from a public radio host to Hillary Clinton on SNL prepared Gasteyer well for stepping into virtually any role.

"The secret sauce of SNL is variety," Gasteyer said. "It's just that it's changing all the time. It's changing every week. It changes by the host. It changes by the current event of the week. So as much as, sure, I loved playing the music teachers, I loved playing the NPR characters, and I loved doing Martha Stewart and all of those, the delight of that show is showing up on Wednesday and sitting down at the read-through table and somebody's written something that you absolutely didn't expect."

Expect the unexpected on "American Auto," Tuesday nights at 8:00 on NBC. 

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