18 Things to Know About Jewish Comedian Michaela Watkins

The "SNL" alum was inspired to go into show business by Joan Rivers.

Even if you don’t think you know Michaela Watkins, you still probably do. The Jewish comedian and actor has had an extremely productive career over the last 20 years, starring in everything from sitcoms to a drama miniseries to late night sketch shows to rom-coms.

Here are 18 things to know about her.

1. Michaela was born on December 14, 1971 in Syracuse, New York to a Jewish family.

2. She’s a Sagittarius.

3. Her first acting role was as a cockney maid in a British farce play. She was 15 years old!

4. She graduated from Wellesley High School and then studied theater at Boston University.

5. Jewish comedian Joan Rivers inspired Michaela to go into show business and comedy. In 2014, Michaela chatted with Joan Rivers on the web show “In Bed With Joan.”

6. She started her career doing regional theater in Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles. She also started performing improv and sketch comedy with the LA comedy troupe The Groundlings in 2007.

I remember almost wetting my pants backstage because of the deafening sound of silence,” Michaela recalled her experience of bombing in front of a Groundlings audience. “I just had to keep making entrances and keep going out there in a sketch that was horrible.”

7. Michaela was an “SNL” cast member for the show’s 2008-2009 season. Though she was only on the show for a year, she had a recurring Weekend Update character named Angie Tempura. Angie was a snarky celebrity blogger for a website called Bitch Pleeze.

8. Michaela has described having to carve a career for herself after getting let go from “SNL” as “a crapshoot.”

“I had to really humble myself. If I defined myself by having been on ‘SNL,’ I would have been defined as just the girl who was once on ‘SNL.’ I never thought ‘SNL’ was going to necessarily happen, so when it did happen, it was such a shock,” she told Vulture. “If I thwarted all the other things I wanted to do because I was the girl who was fired from ‘SNL,’ that would’ve been a bummer.

9. She has two dogs, WuzzaBear and Jeff!

10. She met her now-husband Fred on 10/10/10! Plus, Jewish actor Josh Radnor apparently helped facilitate the meeting.

11.  Michaela didn’t always claim her Jewish identity.

For whatever reason I didn’t want to claim my Judaism [for a long time] because the way it was disseminated to me in my education – it didn’t resonate with me,” she told the Jerusalem Post in 2017. However, around 2007 she participated in a conference about Jewish identity and began to form her Jewish identity.

12. Her husband Fred also helped her spiritual growth.

I met my husband and he took me to IKAR and… that’s where I really felt like I had the spirituality of Judaism brought to me,” she said. “This is not just saying and doing things by tradition and rote, this is how it can take seed in you and grow and become part of your identity.”

13. She’s a fan of Rabbi Sharon Brous, who happens to be her rabbi!

“[Rabbi Brous] is a rabbi empath extraordinare and has been fighting tirelessly for humanity around the globe,” Michaela wrote in a post promoting Rabbi Brous’s book. “But her book is about how we hold each other in the light and the darkness.”

14. Michaela has the unique problem of being in way too many shows! (To name just a few of her credits, she’s been on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “New Girl,” “Casual,” “Catastrophe,” “The Dropout,” “Search Party,” “History of the World, Part II” and more.)

This often leads to encounters where people think they know her. Listen to her talk about how she deals with that below:

15. Michaela has been a frequent collaborator with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The pair have worked together on “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “Veep,” and “You Hurt My Feelings.”

If my career had to emulate anybody’s, it would be hers. And interestingly, it has — slowly and not to her degree–ish. We have similar tastes, for sure, and maybe a similar sensibility,” Michaela told Vulture.

16. Michaela and Julia play siblings in “You Hurt My Feelings,” a film by Jewish director Nicole Holofcener. Initially, the pair were supposed to play best friends. But when Michaela was cast, everyone agreed it made the most since for them to be sisters.

The role I’ve been angling for my whole career is playing Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ sister,Michaela laughingly said in a preview for “You Hurt My Feelings.”

17. Want to see seven photos from her phone in the New York Times? Here you go!

18. In “Dinner with the Parents,” Michaela plays mom Jane Langer. (She co-stars with Carol Kane and Henry Hall, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ oldest son.) The season finale of the show features a Passover seder and Jane singing “Avinu Shalom Aleichem” on autoharp.

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

Read More