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Natasha Leggero goes back to the Gilded Age with 'Another Period'

Natasha Leggero stars in

Natasha Leggero stars in "Another Period" on Comedy Central. Photo Credit: Robyn Von Swank

Newport, Rhode Island, used to be a vacation spot for the New York City elite during the Gilded Age at the dawn of the 1900s, and the Comedy Central show, "Another Period," has mined that era for one of the summer's funniest new comedies.

The show, created by and starring Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome, focuses on the incredibly rich Bellacourt family and its many crazy, self-centered and ridiculous family members, as well as the abused and off-kilter staff of servants. The impressive cast also includes Michael Ian Black, Christina Hendricks and Jason Ritter.

amNewYork spoke with Leggero about the show, which airs its fifth episode tonight.

How has the response been to the show?

It's been great. It's just so exciting to be a part of something you helped create that's so well-received and that everyone wanted to be in. The people in the cast -- they were our first-choice dream cast. We couldn't believe we got everybody. It's been great. And other people have come up to me, people like Patton Oswalt and Ken Jeong, and they're like, "I want to be in this if you do more." We have all these people who want to be in it, so we're inspired by that. We're starting to think of new parts for people in season two. Basically, everybody loves to be in period dress. They're all acting majors from college.

What kind of research did you do for the show?

I had read a book about Newport and I just found it fascinating. There was this golden age happening in Newport, and I was reading this book and it said you can still see all the houses. ... So I went to Newport to explore this whole region and it was so amazing and so inspiring. You can just put on headphones and go through these house museum tours. Here's a painting and here's a story about these crazy, eccentric people who were living like rappers. It was just so inspiring, and then all of the sudden these characters started to form and the show really started to write itself. It was just really cool to be able to learn about all of that. I guess that's research, but it didn't feel like it.

What's one of the more surprising things you discovered while researching?

The fact that people didn't pay income tax and could just keep all their money. Some of these people were making in the billions. They were making billions of dollars at this time in history. It's just so crazy to me. One of these woman we read about, who we based Paget Brewster's character on, Dodo, she would move mansions if the humidity was affecting her hairstyle. So she would move two mansions over. This is how rich people were.

Have you heard anything from the people of Newport?

I have not been back. I'm hoping they're into it because Newport is such a beautiful place; I want to be able to go there for the rest of my life. For me, it's one of the most beautiful places I've been to in America. It really blew me away.

Who are some of the real-life figures we're going to see this season?

We do have more coming up this season. Ben Stiller plays Charles Ponzi, who is the inventor of the Ponzi scheme. And Thomas Edison makes an appearance. I'd like to see presidents, artists, I think that would be really fun. There are so many interesting people that were alive during this period.

No period piece is complete without the clothing. Do you like what your character Lillian wears?

We happen to have a genius do our clothing. Her attention to detail was pretty insane. If I wanted to wear a low-necked shirt for a scene, she would just be like, "Lillian would not wear an evening dress in the daytime. She needs to have daywear on." If it was before 5 o'clock, she just really needed us to be right. ... She was very particular about that stuff.

Newport was a getaway spot for New Yorkers. Any chance you'll visit New York City in the show?

Yeah, season two -- if they give us a big budget. Filming in New York is expensive! We filmed all of this in this beautiful mansion in LA. called the Paramour Mansion. We definitely would like to do some excursions, but our budget didn't really allow it.

What else do you have coming up?

I have a special coming up on Comedy Central on Aug. 22. It's an hour-long comedy special that I shot at Bimbos in San Francisco, which is like an old supper club. So I'm really excited about that. It's called "Live From Bimbos."

On TV: "Another Period" airs on Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.


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