Sara Schaefer is in the enviable position of working at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon , interviewing his celebrity guests for the show's blog, as well as posting amusing highlights from the show and other online sources. A Chesterfield County native, the 32-year-old Schaefer has two Emmys for outstanding creative achievement in interactive media to her credit and is a rising stand-up comedian. Before working for NBC in the famous Rockefeller Center building, she hosted an online music show for America Online and was an editor for VH1's Best Week Ever website. And, like any sensible girl, she has a big crush on Justin Timberlake.
Q: Where do you keep your Emmys?
A: Well, the first year, we had to share it. We weren't nominated by name. This year, I was lucky enough to get nominated by name, so I have one. It's on an end table by a couch. It's weird. I just started to do this podcast with a friend, and we needed something to mount a microphone on. It's the perfect microphone stand.
Q: What was it like for you growing up in Richmond?
A: It was great. My mom ran this charity, Pennies From Heaven, for 10 years, and because of that, I had a lot of exposure to diverse people in Richmond, people from different walks of life. I also went to the [Maggie Walker] Governor's School when it first started, and that was really great because it took me out of Chesterfield County and put me in Richmond. I think I had a much more interesting experience than if I'd stayed out in the suburbs.
Q: Were you considered funny then?
A: I was all involved in theater, and I'd always get the funny character role, which I did not want. I wanted to be the lead, the princess, the ingénue, but I wasn't that at all. Teachers would say, "It means you're a better actress if you can play the funny role." I don't care! I wanted to be popular and pretty, but I had to work with what I had.
Q: How is it working at Rockefeller Center? You must run into a lot of famous people.
A: It's not that I'm numb to it; I just never know who's going to make me flip out. You'd think I'd go crazy over Tina Fey, but I was very calm. But some other random person that I didn't think I'd be starstruck by, like, "Oh my gosh, it's the guys from This Old House !" I've met so many of my idols. "Oh, my God, Justin Timberlake just made eye contact. I can die now."
Q: What was he like?
A: Well, we only made eye contact. But I can tell you, it was the most meaningful eye contact I've ever made.
Q: What was it like during the whole Conan O'Brien Tonight Show debacle?
A: We were really removed from it. We found out the way the rest of the world found out, through the Internet, which is weird. We just said, "Well, we're going to keep going and go with the flow, whatever that is." I feel lucky to be here.
Q: Do you all enjoy it when Jimmy Fallon impersonates Neil Young?
A: Oh, my God, it's so amazing. The first time he did it, a lot of people didn't realize it was not Neil Young. Especially because he can wear that hat, and you can't see his face, for a minute, you're like, "Is that really Neil Young?" With Bruce [Springsteen], it was one of the most amazing things that has ever happened on the show.
Q: When somebody like Bruce Springsteen visits, is there a different atmosphere?
A: Oh, yeah. Something like that was a huge deal. Everyone wanted to stand in the back of the studio and watch, and we had to take turns. Usually it's a pretty informal atmosphere around here; you can pop in and watch a rehearsal, but this was like, "Don't be wandering around." Not because Bruce is some kind of crazy person. They were like, "We know everyone's excited — just keep your s--- together.
Do not embarrass us." [ Laughs ]
Q: How's your stand-up career going?
A: I used to tell these long stories, and I couldn't make jokes from them. The past couple of years, I really focused on it: Get more laughs. I've worked really, really hard; I'm extremely tired. [ Laughs ] But I've made huge progress, and I'm starting to get noticed for my stand-up, which was a goal. I wanted people to know I'm not just a blogger or some random girl onstage; I'm a good stand-up comedian.