You might know Maria Thayer from the cult comedy Strangers With Candy, in which she played Tammi Littlenut, the sweetly chipper sidekick to Amy Sedaris’ Jerri Blank. Or maybe you caught her in Adult Swim’s Eagleheart, or in Forgetting Sarah Marshall as one of the newlyweds annoying Jason Segel. Or perhaps you’re a fan of her lesser-known work as a seed artist at the Minnesota State Fair. She’s a woman of many talents, including lucid dreaming.
Thayer is currently starring in the TruTV sitcom Those Who Can’t, about a group of highly dysfunctional high school teachers. The show premieres Friday at 10:30 p.m., though it’s already been renewed for a second season — meaning Thayer can look forward to many more early-morning shoots.
In her own words, here’s Thayer on lucid dreaming, spooky hotels and sleep discrimination in Hollywood.
I don’t have a regular sleep schedule. I’m definitely a night owl and have been since I was a kid. If I’m not working, I just stay up. I feel like I never get anything done before 6pm. If I just lived a life where I was able to be in bed at 1:30 in the morning and get up 8 hours after that, it would be great.
Early morning shoots are by far the worst part of my job. When you’re a girl you have to come even earlier — there’s, like, more to getting ready than just putting on your costume. I’m not the first one there, but certainly in this show I’m the first actor there. The guys sort of stumble in an hour after.
I think it’s sometimes strange to be a woman in comedy. I think that role is still being very much discussed. I don’t hear this as much anymore but people still say “Are women funny?” And if they are funny, “How can they be funny? What is an acceptable way that they can be funny?” I don’t know why. Funny is such a weird magical thing.
I used to be afraid of the dark. I mean, I still am, but I used to always sleep with some sort of light on. As a kid, as soon as it was dark, my imagination would just go off — I couldn’t control it. I would always think of scary things. Now I’m a little better about that.
In high school we had a class where the whole semester we just had to write one paper. Everything was in service of this one paper. And of course I waited until the last week to do anything. So I don’t know how long I stayed up but I definitely crammed like I never crammed before. Not since my mid-twenties have I seen the sun come up.
I’m really into the Snopes hotel section. It’s like, “there’s mostly bodies under beds.” My mother just inherited this hotel in Montana — it’s called the Adams Hotel — that nobody can stay in because it’s falling apart. It’s very spooky.
I have one recurring dream that I’m responsible for a murder. I don’t know who I killed. Sometimes it’s a person and sometimes it’s an animal, though when it’s an animal it’s because I forgot to feed it, or I left it somewhere. But when it’s a person, the dream is that I’ve killed them when I was a teenager and I buried them with some friends. And in my dream I suddenly remember that I’m not this normal person living a normal life.
I learned to lucid dream when I was little. I couldn’t do it enough to fly away from anyone or run faster but I knew that if I died, the dream would be over. So In my nightmares I would be running away from somebody and then I’d realize it was a dream and turn around and run towards them. Just to get it over with.
I don't know what that says about my personality.
My bedside table: I’ve been sick so there’s a used tissue. Start with that. There’s a rock, a skipping rock that I got in Montana; a certificate for a facial; and a pile of books.