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Lauren Flans is one of my favorite people on the planet. I first met her in 2010 when we were both hired to perform with Second City on a cruise ship. I’ll save her the embarrassment of telling specific stories of our adventures, but man did we have a good time. Lauren can make me laugh harder than almost anyone I know. She’s a brilliant improviser, a talented actor, a hilarious writer… and a phenomenal rapper. Yes, rapper. She has her own album and everything.  So funny and so talented, with mad rhyming skills, Lauren Flans is a great mix of neurotic, filthy, funny and creative and now she’s one of the new cast members of the MTV2 reboot of it’s hip-hop improv comedy show, “Nick Cannon Presents, Wild N’ Out.”

Now based out of Los Angeles, I caught up with my good friend and asked her all about the show, the audition and found out that yes, she did get EMOtional when Mariah Carey dropped by the set.

Lauren Flans headshot

Serial Optimist: Thank you for doing this with me.

Lauren Flans: No, thank YOU, dude!

SO: Ok, so how’d you get the audition for the show in the first place?

Lauren: You know that show “Lost Moon Radio” that I post about non-stop and I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing if they don’t live in LA? I rap in that show a lot and the album I have is from that show. Did you know I have a rap album? I was really shitty about emailing people. I hope you know, or I’m embarrassed.

SO: I think I’m a good enough friend that if you told me about it I would’ve listened to it, so you were probably just shitty about it.

Lauren: I was going to send all these personal emails about it, and I should’ve have done that, because when you set out to do that it becomes this tasks that’s so big. I should’ve sent a fucking mass email to everybody. (laughing) Now it’s been over a year and nobody knows about it.

SO: Well you know what, we’ll post a link to it with this interview.

Hey people reading this, Lauren Flans has a rap album. She’s awesome. Get it here!

6 Rap Songs That Changed History!

CD_Cover_Urban

SO: Ok, so you did a bunch of rap with Lost Moon Radio

Lauren: Yeah, so our bass player is a good friend with a guy at APA, an agency out here. This guy is like the nicest dude ever. He’s always been a fan of my rapping. He heard about the audition, got in touch with me and I was like, “Yes, please!”

SO: Honestly, I cannot imagine a more perfect job for you.

Lauren: I know, right! I’ve been a fan of this show forever! I use to watch this show in Amsterdam (Lauren was member with the famed comedy theater Boom Chicago.)

SO: I believe it. You made us play rap improv games in every single shows.

Lauren: I know. I’m sorry about that.

SO: No, it made us better! I tried to do it in with groups after and when it didn’t work and I’d be like, “Lauren could’ve done it.”

Lauren: Aww. Yeah, it’s like the perfect thing. By the way, how fucking amazing is it that they outted me in that trailer? As I’ve said, even though my parents live in Spain, I can hear my mom’s teeth grinding.

SO: NOTE: Lauren has a great rap line about being gay. Check the clip on the “Wild ‘N Out” cast page.

SO: Ha!

Lauren: I didn’t fucking know they were going to do that! I mean I give them a lot of credit, but I was like, “I did not know that that was going to transpire.”

SO: You had to know that anything you said could go on air.

Lauren: No, I’m glad it did… because the producers and the cast knew (I was gay) from day one. That happened in callbacks, so they knew. The other new girl on the show is more traditionally, or obviously gay. I used to joke with her and say, “You’re so gay, you’re swallowing up my gayness and I’m not allowed to be gay.” So, on the show, it didn’t really come up. I mean, I kissed a girl, but everyone would think “oh, straight girls kissing,” so I was actually glad they showed that so everyone won’t think it’s some dumb stunt. I was just surprise, because it was only one out of maybe 12 rhymes, so I say, “good for you MTV2.”

SO: What was the audition process like?

Lauren: I think the audition sheet literally said, “Be ready to be WILD and to be yourself.” When I walked in, the vibe that I felt was… “Who the fuck is this?” (Laughing) But then, they were really cool and in a couple of minutes they were on my side.

SO: (laughing) Yeah, but don’t tell me you don’t love that.

Lauren: What, that people think I suck and then I don’t suck that much?

SO: I don’t think people think that you’ll suck, but they would NEVER think

Lauren: They’re like “What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be here.” I do love that, but then, because I’m me and I’m so fucking neurotic I’m like, “maybe I’m not that good, maybe it’s the expectation and is so incongruent…” you know what I mean? Then I worry about that, because God forbid I have 5 seconds of my day where I don’t have anxiety about being a failure.

SO: No, you can’t do that. You need to be in constantly doubt. Did you know you nailed the audition?

Lauren: I did. It was one of the only things I’ve ever done that I knew I nailed. I called my manager and my agent and said, “I don’t know if I’ll get it”, because I don’t fucking understand how Hollywood works at all, and they might just have some really hot blonde girl with great tits. I said, “I did better at this than I’ve ever done in any audition scenario, ever!”

SO: Those are the best, because you’re like, “I can’t get upset if I don’t get it, because if I don’t it’s not because of me.”

Lauren: Yeah, it was such a great scenario. And then I did get it and they didn’t give it to some blonde girl with great tits!

SO: So you’ve done rap battles in LA. What does that mean? Are we talking like “8 Miles” style?

Lauren: No, I’ve done comedy rap battles, which are WAY more chill. It’s mostly stand ups who also rap. I don’t think there are people who are just rappers. It’s not as hard-core as that. It’s still intimidating. It’s not as much now, because people know me, but that first one… and it’s also at The Comedy Store which is fucking intimidating.

SO: What was it like the first time you battled?

Lauren: It was literally like you were describing. I walked into the green room and was met with this wall of “What the fuck are you doing here?” The show is sponsored by a company called “LA Speed Weed”, a weed delivery service, so you walk into the green room and instantly you’re high. I’m not good with that, so I would have to leave, which probably looks antisocial. BUT doing the battle was a great experience. Everyone in the actual battle and in the audience were so great and on my side.

SO: Did you win?

Lauren: I won my first battle! I haven’t won one since then, but I fucking killed that first one.

SO: You won that Youtube show “Picture Battle.”

SO NOTE: Lauren beat out Andy Milonakis in the semi-final round of the Youtube show.

Lauren: Yeah, that was awesome.

SO: So what’d you win? Has that helped your career at all?

Lauren: I won like $1400. It was fucking cool. It was awesome. And those guys are great. They’ve said I could do a rap channel if I wanted. My buddy and I would love to, but literally after that happened is when I got “Wild N’ Out” and I went to New York. We want to pitch it, but honestly with everything else going on I haven’t had a chance. Plus, I don’t really get YouTube. I know it’s about content, but honestly I’m so OCD about stuff it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around it. People are like, “You know, just turn on your web camera and just, like talk, for 10 minutes everyday.” And I’m like, What?! No, if I’m going to put something out it has to be fucking perfect.

SO: Ok, back to “Wild ‘N Out.” Did you get to meet and hang out with Nick Cannon?

Lauren: Yeah! He does every episode. He’s the fucking nicest guy in the universe.

SO: Really?

Lauren: I have NOTHING bad to say about that guy. He had my back, the ENTIRE time, and also the audience in New York is WAAAY tougher than the LA audience. New York is just a tougher city. It’s grittier. LA is so mellow and it’s easier to live here. New York is just tough. And also the audiences are 20-year old kids, and they’re coming to see cool hip-hop and I’m just this improviser. Anytime I did something that didn’t land with the audience, Nick would walk out and be like, “That was improv people. That was real improv!” He had my back 100%. He was so fucking supportive and is the nicest guy in the whole world. And he’s the hardest working dude in the universe. He made all the beats for the show. The music we’re battling to, he MADE those beats. And he has two kids! He’s really busy. He’s really, really funny.

SO: Being the little white girl in the group, did you feel like you had to overcompensate to show what you could do?

Lauren: Yeah. And you’ll see when it airs. I just started making jokes, like “Hey, I have no ass.” You have to do what works and you feel weird doing it, but you’re being told you’re a skinny white girl with no ass, so you start using it. I need to get an initial fucking laugh to get the audience on my side.

SO: Where did you learn to rap? Tell me about that.

Lauren: In Amsterdam when I performed with Boom Chicago. The way they use to end their “Best of” show is that you’d interview a couple in the audience and then you’d rap about them. SUPER heavy on sexual euphemisms/innuendo, which I’m proud to say was my forte; I have a filthy fucking mind. And mouth. It was hands-down my favorite thing I ever did at Boom.

SO: Being cast in Boom is a big deal. Some huge names have come out of it (Seth Meyers, Kay Cannon, Jordan Peele are all alumni) How did you get in?

Lauren: I never fucking thought I’d get in. Ok, this is what happened. I was living in LA for just under 5 years when I auditioned for Boom. I actually flew to Chicago for the audition, which was in January. The Thanksgiving day just before, I was in this fucking unbelievable car accident, this hit and run accident where I totally should’ve died. It’s stupid that I didn’t die. My car flipped over, all the windows blew in. I literally crawled out of the passenger window onto the highway. Somehow, I was fine. I had some glass in my face and shit, but I was fine.

So I was talking to my friend Kristen Schaal, shortly after that and she was like “I’m flying to Chicago to audition for Boom” and I was like, “That’s cool. I’m not going to do that. Do I want to move to Europe? That seems big and scary.” She started yelling at me. I mean we used to be roommates, but she had never yelled at me. She was like, “You just almost died. Do you not get that you should do something fucking big. You got your life! Fucking do something Lauren! You never do anything! Stop being a pussy and come audition! You’re being a fucking loser.” So, she shamed me into it.

SO: Wow, so had you been studying improv?

Lauren: I had been on a team at iO West for a long time and I’d done some Groundlings a little at that point. But I also learned improv at school at Northwestern, my senior year.

SO: Did you always know you wanted to do improv and comedy?

Lauren: I’d always wanted to do sketch, like “Saturday Night Live.” Then I saw the improv group (at Northwestern) during new student week and I was obsessed with them. I auditioned every fucking year and got called back every year. It was a big deal to get called back as a freshman, so I thought, “Cool, I’ll probably be in this group by sophomore year”, but I didn’t get in till my senior year. I literally had friends tell me, “You should stop auditioning, it’s humiliating.”

SO: And how was the experience at Boom?

Lauren: Boom was a blast, and a fantastic learning experience. I think the biggest and best takeaway I got from working there was how to perform with absolute (or as close as you can get to absolute) confidence. You’re doing these shows just about every night for audiences of up to 300, and a lot of times they’re drunk and unruly. Not to mention most audience members are European, and some of them (especially the years I was working there) aren’t too keen on Americans. So you learn to really take and hold the stage, and literally COMMAND the audience to pay attention to you simply through your stage presence. I learned that you have to project 100% confidence; audiences can sense if you’re unsure of your footing, and then it’s really hard to win them back.

My other favorite thing was when we got this nightly TV show on Comedy Central Netherlands that was like the Dutch version of “The Daily Show” called “Comedy Central News” (CCN). It was this 10-ish minute show that aired three times a night every weeknight. I had my own segment called “Flans on the Street” where I did fully-improvised (wo)man on the street interviews at events, etc. all over Holland.

I’m really proud of them. A ton of them are on YouTube if you search “Flans on the Street,” and some of my favorites are on my website.

SO: Then you came back, did a cruise ship for Second City and now you’re back in LA. What’s next?

Lauren: At this point, I still do improv with Mission Improvable out here and love it, but a lot of my focus is on sketch, like with my group “Lost Moon”. And I hope the show (“Wild ‘N Out”) does well, because I feel like now that I know the playing field a little better, if it does have another season I can come in with an adjusted attitude and hopefully do better.

SO: Ok, now the important stuff. Who’s your celebrity crush?

Lauren: Ummm… it’s still Blake Lively. I’m not proud of that, but I’m fucking obsessed with her.  She’s super-humanly attractive. I’m fucking in love with her, dude. I was tweeting this the other day and I mean it. If Ryan Reynolds fucks up her body with pregnancy, I’m going to be livid.

SO: Ha! Got it. Ok, one final thing. I have to ask this even though I kind of don’t want to. Did you get to meet Mariah Carey?

Lauren: I didn’t get to actually meet Mariah (none of the new cast did as far as I know), but she came to set one day, and it was FANTASTIC. This is going to sound cheesy, but it was this, like, “electric” moment. I’m not exaggerating; it literally felt like the fucking air in the studio changed. Part of the reason, I’m sure, is that none of us were told she was coming to set that day; the producers kept it majorly under wraps, so we were 100% taken by surprise. But she walked out, and it was like she was this super-intense presence. I mean, I know and like all her radio hits, but I’ve never, like, owned a Mariah Carey album. But even so, I LOST MY SHIT. I’m not even kidding. The audience there that day screamed for like a solid minute; it was impossible to shut them up. And Rasika (one of the other girls on the show) and I were always on different teams, so we were on different sides of the stage, but I remember LITERALLY jumping up and down and making eye contact with her, and we were both like “HOLY FUCKING SHIT!” It was actually really fascinating, because living in L.A. you see famous or famous-ish people on a semi-regular basis. But this made me realize what it felt like to be, like, ten feet away from a CELEBRITY. I mean, Mariah Carey is a diva for a reason. She has this super-intense presence that is really hard to explain. I acted like an absolute idiot for about two solid minutes when she was there.

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SO NOTES: You can catch Lauren on “Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ‘N Out” Tuesdays at 11/10c on MTV2 starting July 9th. She currently writes and performs in Los Angeles with the sketch/musical comedy group Lost Moon Radio, and has a comedy rap EP with them called 6 Rap Songs That Changed History. Lauren also has a bunch of funny videos up on her website, but it’s formatted like it’s from the early ’90s, so don’t judge her if you go there. She would be delighted and profoundly moved if you would follow her on Twitter @LaurenFlans. Be forewarned that she tweets a lot about Blake Lively.