Once upon a time on Instagram I started following Chris Schleicher, a writer on one of my favorite shows, The Mindy Project (season 3 now streaming on Hulu). After scrolling through every one of his photos (a tribute to Her Majesty, reviews of Grace of Monaco), I decided to track Schleicher down for an interview. It’s not very often one finds a sitcom writer who’s almost as enamored with royalty as oneself.
The Harvard graduate and former competitive pairs figure skater was a good sport, and even played a jolly good game of Shag-Marry-Kill, Windsor edition.
1. When and how did the stars align to bring you to ‘The Mindy Project’ (“San Francisco Bae” is my favorite episode, BTW)?
I was hired on The Mindy Project in 2013 at the beginning of Season 2. Mindy and her team were aware of my writing through Twitter and my shows at the UCB Theatre, so when they were looking for new writers, they asked for my samples. I submitted my original pilot about figure skating called On Thin Ice (based on my real-life experience as a competitive figure skater). They liked it and invited me to meet with them.
After a very nerve-wracking interview where I think I described the plot of every single episode of Mary Tyler Moore, they made the insane decision to hire me. I’m now in the middle of my third season on the show and I absolutely love it there.
I’m so glad you enjoyed “San Francisco Bae!” That episode was so fun. One time on set, Lee Pace and I made eye contact and it was so powerful I almost fell out of my chair.
2. There is a lot of Massachusetts talent on ‘The Mindy Project’ [Mindy Kaling, the show’s star and creator, is from Cambridge]. Do the Massholes have an unbreakable bond? Or is it more like “Oh jeez, thank God it’s not muggy here in Burbank, right?”
I hadn’t really thought about this before, but yeah, a ton of our writing staff do have a Massachusetts background. Five of us went to college in the Boston area, but I think Mindy and I are the only ones who grew up in Massachusetts. I wouldn’t say there is some sort of special Bay State bond, but it does come in handy when we have to pitch jokes about Boston.
Weirdly enough, most of these jokes are about hating Boston because it’s Danny Castellano’s [played by Chris Messina] least favorite city in the world. But at least we know the right specifics to make fun of! We were just pitching on Legal Seafoods jokes the other day.
3. What has been your favorite episode of ‘The Mindy Project’ so far?
I’ve been asked this question a lot, and I always have the same, selfish answer. My favorite episode is “Crimes and Misdemeanors and Ex-Boyfriends” from Season 3 because I got to guest star as Chip, the brain surgeon’s receptionist. I’m an incurable narcissist and all I want is to see my own face, so how could I prefer any other episode to the one I got to be in?!
But aside from that one, I really love the episode with Stephen Colbert from last season, “Confessions of a Cathoholic.”
4. What is your favorite show on television, aside from ‘The Mindy Project.’
RuPaul’s Drag Race, hands down. I’m starting to realize that maybe I just like shows with the loudest women’s garments? Regardless, it’s a crime against humanity that RuPaul hasn’t ever been nominated for Best Reality Host.
5. Which one was less terrible: Lifetime’s version of Will and Kate’s romance, or the Hallmark one with Charlene Frazier Stillfield?
I’m going to have to admit I haven’t seen either of these versions in full but from looking at the trailers, I’m going to say I prefer the Hallmark version because it seems to be WAY more Diana-focused. What was up with Kate’s styling on the Lifetime version? She looked like a 4th-place contestant on The Bachelor.
I usually prefer my royal misfires to be way more big budget. For instance, Diana, where over the course of the movie, you can see Naomi Watts slowly realizing she’s made a huge career misstep.
6. Where were you when Princess Charlotte was born?
Since Prince George came way after his due date, I totally taken by surprise by Charlotte. It was in the morning; I rolled over in bed, checked Twitter (the first thing I do every morning), and woke my boyfriend up with my royal screams.
7. ‘Absolutely Fabulous:’ Patsy or Edina?
Patsy, because I have a tendency to lie about my age. I’m currently working on spreading a rumor that I was born in 2007.
8. Why do you like royalty almost as much as I do?
I love the royals because I love celebrities, and the royals are the purest form of celebrities. These are people who have been famous since birth and will remain famous until they die! Prince George is two years old and he is already a fashion icon.
Last year, I was at a Rite Aid and impulse bought a special-edition People Magazine salute to Prince George’s first year in photos. I was shocked when they rang it up and it cost $12, but I refused to back down from my purchase. It ended up becoming a joke about “Prince George’s Hottest Diaper Looks” on The Mindy Project.
Also, as a child, and sort of into my teens, I had a weird resemblance to Prince William. So I have always identified as quasi-royal myself.
9. You were on ‘Jeopardy!’ in 2009. Will you ever return?
According to the rules of the show, you can’t go back on the show again, unless you’re invited to a Tournament of Champions or something. As a one-time contestant who lost his episode, I don’t see that happening.
My only option now is to become a celebrity and get invited on Celebrity Jeopardy. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m 100% certain I will be back on the show as a celebrity one day.
10. Shag-Marry-Kill: Princess Michael of Kent, Camilla, or Fergie?
Okay, so the thing most people would do here is kill Camilla. But you’ve got to consider, Prince Charles left one of the most beautiful and lovely women in history for Camilla. My conclusion? Camilla’s great in the sack. F Camilla.
Marrying Princess Michael is tempting because then I’d be linked to all sorts of European royalty. However, her father being a member of the Nazi party is gonna be a dealbreaker for me because I already have a suspicious-sounding German last name. Kill Princess Michael.
And that leaves me with marrying Fergie. I think we’d get along, but I’d hardly see her at all because I’d always be out hat shopping with my new step-daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie.
Season three of The Mindy Project is streaming now on Hulu.