Artist: Tracy Grandstaff
Section: Interview
Importance: She was the voice of Mtv's "Daria," the smartest High School girl to ever have her own TV show. Tracy can also give you the inside scoop of what it's like to work at Mtv.
The Plug: She's not plugging anything for herself right now, so she chose to promote the career of New York rising comic Darry Logan.
"Will the real Daria Morgendorffer please stand up?"
Editors Note: This interview is excerpted from a phone conversation I had with Tracy. I've tried to stay as true to the original conversation as I could, and still have it make sense and make it easy to follow.

Interviewers Note: Just when you think I've asked a guest the dumbest questions imaginable, I somehow seem to top myself. I'd like to thank Tracy for being a great sport and not hanging up immediately after the 5th time I ask her to do the Daria voice.


T.O.C.
1. Working at Mtv
2. Daria and You
3. Dating
4. Favorite Daria Lines
5. I'm on it

Tell us about your life working at Mtv.


I started working for Mtv in 1989, in the Off-Air Creative Department, as a copywriter, and ended up making more copies than writing copy. I hated my job and I thought I would be writing and I found myself doing more remedial filing and stuff.
Mtv is notorious, for when they're looking to cast something, because there are so many interns and young production assistant types working at the company, they have a habit of posting what they're looking for, in terms of shows, and pooling out of whatever in house talent there is, or lack of talent, depending on the nature of the show. So, they had fliers up in all the kitchens for auditions for a new show. And basically, the whole premise is if you want to be on camera and live in a great apartment for a weekend, and let our cameras film you, please be at this place at this time. A friend of mine talked me into going for it, and the next thing I knew I was cast in the Real World pilot. After the weekend happened, and I kinda came out the other side of it, completely paranoid and, you know, thinking what a freaky experiment that is, and I would never want to be a part of the show, I ended up hitting it off with the developer/producer, Lauren Corrao, and ended up being her assistant. So, it had a means to an end, but it was a very strange. Odd thing to put yourself through.

And now that you say that you sort of do and sort of don't still work for Mtv was does that mean?
I spent 10 years in the on air promo department and wrote, did voice overs for Beavis and Butt Head, and obviously did the Daria gig. My primary job for them, was functioning as a writer. I have been writing for the video music awards, different specials, and more spring breaks than I can count. As much you try to get away, they always try to drag you back into it. I worked on staff as a writer until 1997, and then broke free to work on other projects with other companies, but they still tend to hire you back. I worked for the Tom Green show, worked and wrote for last years video music awards, worked for VH1, Nickelodeon and the whole Viacom family. Once you get into their little pool they sort of keep pulling you back into it. Currently we wrapped Daria with the latest movie, but there are still fringe shows that keep you busy.

If someone has a scary burning passion to work at Mtv, is there anything more than going through the internship program and hopefully they'll hire you, or is there something more you can do?
Does everybody say go through the internship program? Is that becoming like the staple answer? Cuz it kinda is the staple answer. Human resources will get you nowhere. Honestly going through the internship program is the way to go.

You talk about this internal pool of people that they pick from, is that because they are so unbelievably cheap, or they figure we gotta good talent pool, what the heck.
Seriously, it's both. They are notoriously cheap, that's no secret, and they're getting a lot of flack for it. The interns are so pre screened, they're coming from different backgrounds, they're young, they're ambitious, they want to be in front of the camera. I'd say a good 80% of the people working at Mtv want to be in front of the camera. So it's a very easy place to throw a rock in any direction and come up with someone who's actually kinda talented. A lot of people who work at Mtv, it's their day job, but they also have bands. It's very user friendly. It's very easy. It's certainly not the only place they go, and having been in promos for so long, I know what it's like to go through casting sessions, but they're not using SAG actors and actresses so, why not just go internally. It's like they've been pre screened in a way.

Right. Fewer psychos.

I'm not saying that. I couldn't go there.

Oooh. Maybe they need a better screening process. For their interns.

I think that enhances network.

Oooh.

~~~

Do you have a lot in common with Daria?

I think most people have a lot in common with Daria because she's got the ultimate bullshit detector. It's not that she is as cynical as she is a realist, I had that in common with her from Junior High on. Not just the tomboy fashions, but sarcasm towards the greater world at large and literally always trying to find the escape route. I'd say I have more in common with her than not.

One of the things about Daria, is that she is a very monotone speaker. How does that work out when they come to you and say, "We're going to do a singing episode?"

To clarify that I'm not a singer?

Does that freak you out?

It wasn't the happiest moment. It was a challenge. The fact that Daria has maybe a 3 note range made it easier to take on. Just the fact that they didn't expect me to sing well, made life that much easier. It wasn't that intimidating, it sounded nice. Because Daria is such a one note, aside from a couple of emotions that were expressed in 5 years, it literally wasn't that hard to go there. It wasn't that hard to take it on. It was embarrassing, because I am friends with producers who were watching me make a fool out of myself. But luckily it's not a live action show it's 2D and they can take the best of the worst takes. I'm not as humiliated as if I was standing on the set of the Today show singing the National Anthem.

Now that you're not doing voices right now, is there any interest in doing voices in the future?
I would have gone that route and at one point I probably would have pursued it. Initially when Daria came out, and I almost had the energy, I would go out on auditions and there were 20 other girls who all sound the same, and I would get into the booth and they would say, "Can you do it a little more like Daria," and that would be the direction. I'm just not the auditioning type and there are too many people who really want it. I just can't see myself pursuing it.

~~~

I always like to ask women about dating. No matter who they are. I figure at some point someone will offer up something that will make it all make sense.

In terms of dating...because you have these sort of pseudo ties to the 16 year olds of the world...do you have any advice for them and meeting people, and is it any different with the 30 year olds you associate yourself with.
Well there's a lot of similarities between dating now and dating in high school. There are certain similarities that will always rise to the surface. It's different for guys as it is for girls. Most girls should know that they're always in control. Ahhh...It's a tough question. I'm certainly not an expert on good relationships and dating. I've made a lot of mistakes, and my twenties are a blur, but it wasn't for a lack of sobriety, I was almost startlingly sober through the whole experience. It wasn't as if I went from good relationship to good relationship or even bad relationship to bad relationship, I wasn't focused on relationships. I'm probably like the last person that should be talking about dating. I didn't even date in college. I was completely intimidated by men and the whole notion of sexuality. I'm probably the biggest freak to get advice about dating from. It's a wondrous world and I'd love someone to clue me in to it.

I get the impression that the first impression is almost a deal breaker. Is there anything a guy can say to keep him from getting completely shut down.
Speaking from personal experience in general. Shy always works with me. Self referential, not to the point of being a real downer. A guy with a good sense of humor, and humor is certainly up for interpretation. But lines? I don't think there are ever good lines. The best lines always come from homeless people. But in a bar, lines, not so great. I think the more real a person is, and just looking at me like a person to have a conversation with, versus just a potential score will endear me that much quicker. I think for most women that's true.


Do you have any favorite Daria lines?
There are so many. "I don't have low self esteem, I have low esteem for everyone else." Just the way she says, "Beep. Beep. It's the Soul Train get on board," I always think is funny. I wish I had scripts in front of me.

There's none [quotes] you pull out daily?

No. Not really. You think I should?

If it was me, I think it would be hard not to.

I think there's so much about separating the two worlds. I think that if they started to overlap, it would just get... weird. To me it's interesting when people come up and know the lines and can quote them, more than me quoting them. Because quite honestly, in my world, with my comedic writer friends, I think they would think I was the biggest dork- freak if I started quoting my 2D character. The two worlds are so different. It would just seem weird. It sounds like I don't honor the Daria side of my world, my life, it just sort of feels as if they are so different, they are just so separate. I love who she is, but I don't know. Does that make sense? I'm probably not explaining it right because no one has ever asked me that before.

I love when you say, "my 2D world."

Yeah that's what it is. It's exactly what it is. There's a part of me that wishes I could be more consistently like Daria, but I'd never work in this business if I was like Daria all the time. It's something you've really got to commit to, which is something I really honor about who that character is.

~~~

At this point, I asked Tracy to send me a picture of herself for the interview. And she said, "I'm on it." Which made me want her to say it like Daria. And then the wackiness ensued.

Could you say "I'm on it," like Daria?

I'm on it. I'm on it. [Laughs]

[Laughs] I don't know why, but that, "I'm on it," maybe I just had a vision of Daria as street cop or something.

Book'em Dano. You know what I'd wish Mtv would do with her is take pop songs and have Daria re re-record them. So it would be like Daria as Christina Aguilera going, "I'm a genie in a bottle, baby. Oh, rub me the right way," in her flat way. "Ooops I did it again." And just have her completely bastardize every pop song ever put out.

Oh, I love it. You're so lucky we don't hang out, because it would be just a non stop barrage of me going, "OK, can you do it like Daria?" It would be like you saying, "Here's directions to my house, here's a party," and I'd be like, "No no no. Wuh wuh. I don't want to here it."

"Hi this is Daria Morgendorffer, Alan's not here. He's out. Leave a message." There you go. Way too easy.

[Laughs] And that would be the problem. I would try to stuff you into your 2D character every minute.

You would never let me out.

You would be like, "I want a Martini."

No Daria doesn't do Martini's.

You're under-aged, you can't drink a Martini.

You don't even like soda, you go back and have some soda and pizza with your friend Jane where you belong, and wait until your boyfriend Tom comes along.

Or I would do the opposite and go, "Listen, didn't you learn anything from Quinn's friend who had that drinking problem? What's the matter with you?"

"Don't you understand how wrong your behavior will be if you have that beer. One sip that leads to hell." You would wouldn't you?

I just realized it would get worse if we sat on a couch or something...

Oh for god's sake.

And you were like, "Could you pass me the remote."
"Well I will if you ask for it like Daria would."


It would be so, "All right listen, had me the remote..." and then I'd have to come up with something funny. And by then the show would be over.

I don't think you would even try, because it would just be, "Please pass me the remote," Because by that point it would be so annoying that you would just be, "I give up...I want the remote I'm not going to fight you on this."

It would be five months into the relationship...and what, you want me to order Chinese food? [Like Daria] "Hi, we'd like one egg roll," and you would be setting me up on every turn.

It would be great.


Yeah, it would be great. [Laughs, realizing that my definition and her definition of, "great" are completely different.]

~~~

Well Tracy, you've been a great guest, now it's time for the lightning round.
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