It's a Friday afternoon, and Kristen Schaal is in an airport somewhere, doing a round of post-release press for Toy Story 3.
Schaal voices Trixie the triceratops in Disney-Pixar's long-awaited sequel. Kids may not know who she is, but anyone who's paid attention to American comedy in the last four or five years will instantly recognize her bouncy delivery and unique timing from her performance as Mel the stalker on Flight Of The Conchords - or her guest spot as Manny's age-inappropriate internet date on Modern Family, or her mayonnaise-eating appearances on The Daily Show.
She also pops up as one of Rumplestiltskin's witches in Shrek Forever After, meaning she's in two of this summer's most successful movies - something no one else can claim just yet.
Once she'd found a decent cell-phone signal, we talked about working with two very different studios, chasing jobs and why Olivia Munn joining the cast of The Daily Show doesn't have to be a gender thing.
You're in the new Shrek movie and the new Toy Story movie - two massive animated franchises from competing studios. Is there anything radically different about working with Pixar as opposed to DreamWorks?
There are good people on both sides, definitely. Pixar turned into more of a family atmosphere. I'm friends now with the director and the producer; I know some of the animators. It turned into a bigger project. Even though I was playing a small character, I kept coming back to do stuff. They had me back to do the video game and the ride, and the director, Lee [Unkrich], was constantly updating me on things: "We're gonna reveal your character tomorrow!" Stuff like that. It was nice.
Toy Story 3 does do more with your voice. I mean, no offense, but I didn't even realize you'd been in Shrek Forever After until I saw your name in the credits.
In Shrek, you couldn't tell one witch from the other. But Pixar really takes its time with all the characters. They develop them, every little character, whether they have one line or no lines or they're on screen for 30 seconds. The writers write really complete, thorough backstories for each of them. When I auditioned for Trixie, I auditioned with 10 pages of sides that were never in the movie.
Are you still auditioning for everything these days or are people starting to come to you with specific characters in mind?
I've been lucky - being on great TV shows has helped me get involved in great projects. I mean, that's what happened with Pixar. Lee saw Flight Of The Conchords and The Daily Show back to back, and I happened to be on both, so he figured it was time to have me be in Toy Story 3.
You haven't been on The Daily Show in a while, and there's been a wave of publicity about Olivia Munn joining the team. The website Jezebel took a really scathing look at the show's relative lack of female performers and writers.
I'm waiting to see how it unfolds. It's fascinating to me, too. I think in general she's being attacked before she's really had a chance to be on the show. And I think that happens a lot to women who come on The Daily Show. I don't think people are being fair.
You're still the show's senior women's issues commentator, but a lot of the coverage seems to suggest Munn is replacing you.
It's weird. Olivia joins the show and everybody's like, "Well, I guess Kristen's out." There can be more than two women on the show. There are certainly more than two men.