Awards Daily talks to Jessica St. Clair about playing a “really bats*** insane” bestie with one of her real-life besties Melissa Rauch on NBC’s Night Court.
Jessica St. Clair is everyone’s favorite gal pal on shows like Playing House and Best Friends Forever—and even in real life.
“Melissa Rauch is one of my best and oldest friends,” said St. Clair, “and when she told me she was doing a Night Court reboot, I thought, this is going to be perfect, and of course, she is perfect in it. It was a true dream. To stand next to John Larroquette, I was shaking.”
Ironically, she plays Heather, the bestie from hell, in the episode “Wrath of Comic-Con,” where she reunites with kindergarten buddy Abby (Rauch) and upends her life by crashing for a week (or maybe more!) with the judge.
“I love this storyline because I think we all have those childhood friends that we love dearly, but they’re not quite a good fit as adults. We also have the friend that ate the live goldfish at the New Year’s party junior year in Steve Kasakian’s basement. I think Heather is that friend. One thing I love about this show is that the jokes are so specific.”
There are two things the show reveals about Heather: One, as a child, she fell into a gorilla pit and was reported on the national news as “Baby Heather” and two, on her way to high school graduation, she got onto a Krispy Kreme conveyor belt and Abby had to chisel her out of a sugar cocoon.
“I feel like she’s been coasting off that [gorilla story] fame since she was 6. These are details that made her an easy role to step into. She’s really batshit insane.”
St. Clair really enjoyed getting to play such an unhinged character who ends up getting arrested by the end of the episode.
“I’m so aggressive to Olivia (India de Beaufort). I delivered a lot of lines staring in her eyes like a psycho. I don’t often get to play totally insane people, so this was really fun. Also, Melissa is like an Olympic athlete of sitcoms. As a best friend, most of the time I was watching like a proud mother, but watching her stick the landing to every joke was a joy. I call her my little Polly Pocket doll. I’m also three times the size of her. So, when we go out in public together, I like to rock her like a baby bird.”
St. Clair points out how close Rauch is to her character, so sweet and caring.
“She’s so kind. When I had cancer a while back, within seconds, she delivered seven tons of organic food to my door, and it would show up every day. Some of it, too, I was like I’m not gonna eat kelp, and she’d say, ‘You never know! You might want to sprinkle it on there for antioxidants.’ The Night Court set is so warm and happy. To be on that set is so iconic, so that was also wild. It was like you were stepping back into sitcom history.”
St. Clair’s buddies Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel said the same thing about guest-starring on Night Court, and she’d text them photos of their Pellino & Carnes poster in the hallway (“You a-holes doing that same routine!”). While she’s used to performing live, multi-cam sitcom work is new for her, and something she enjoyed.
“I think this is, like, the third [multi-cam] I’ve been on. It’s fun for us to have an audience, and Night Court was a blast. It’s a lot easier than single cam where you have to wait for cameras to be set up.”
Night Court airs on Tuesdays on NBC at 8 p.m. ET.