Known as the up-and-coming Tina Fey in some small ponds, Nina Slesinger ’14 has been making Macalester laugh since her first year at Macalester. On the stage and in the kickballfield Nina brings the heat. In case the ab workout you get from laughing at Fresh Concept shows isn’t enough, join Nina in the gym for her fitness club. She is swole. You could be too!
Nina Slesinger: I’m so honored to be the spotlight for this week! When I told my housemates, they were all really jealous. Someone even said, “What makes you so special?” [laughs].
Where are you from?
I’m from Bethesda, Maryland which is right outside of D.C.
Was Macalester your first experience in the Midwest?
Yeah it was my first time to the Midwest. I like it a lot. I feel like people in Bethesda aren’t as nice as people are here in the Twin Cities, but I kind of miss the pace of Bethesda. It’s sort of faster and it feels like there’s more going on sometimes, but maybe I’m inventing that.
What is your major?
Creative Writing or Literature?
If any employers need that creative writing concentration I’ll tell them I have it. I was doing creative writing but then I didn’t do the capstone, so technically no, but yes. I didn’t have a big project that I was ready to do for the capstone and I didn’t want to half-ass something so I decided to do the lit capstone. I did a creative project for the lit capstone, though, so it worked out.
What do you focus on in your writing?
Kind of an array of stuff. I’ve done a lot of short stories and I took Peter Bognanni’s screenwriting class and my study abroad program in Prague was a screenwriting program. I’m interested in doing more screenwriting in the future.
How was studying abroad in Prague?
It was good! My program was really tiny so it kind of limited my options of making friends but I loved my roommate, and one of my best friends from high school was there. I travelled a lot and went to Sicily, which is where my mom’s family is from, so I got to visit cousins that I don’t get to see that often. It was a really good experience.
What was the highlight and lowlight?
The street food in Prague is called Smažený sýr, which is a fried patty of cheese. That’s for sure a highlight. I’d say that’s also a lowlight.
What are you plans post grad?
I want to move to Chicago and pursue improv, and then maybe get into writing through that.
Chicago is sort of the center for improv in the US … and the world, unless there’s a booming improv scene in another continent that I’m not aware of. The Second City theater is there, as well as iO and the Annoyance. A bunch of the most famous comedians studied there, like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Steve Carell. I’m hoping that I can get a job doing something I enjoy at least a little bit and then take a bunch of improv classes and work on my writing. We’ll see how it goes! A girl can dream! You’ll find me in twelve months leading a Soup & Substance conversation about having realistic expectations. I’ll probably be an unpaid social media intern for a retirement home.
What are you going to miss most about Macalester?
Besides Fresh Concepts, it’s tough to say. I guess being in a small community and knowing my neighbors. I really like being in a little pond and this will be my first time outside of one, but it’s exciting. A couple of my friends are thinking of living in Chicago, too, and my boyfriend’s probably going to move there.
How has your experience in Fresh Concepts been?
It’s the best part of school. It’s a group of really funny, kind and inspiring people. Practice is so fun. It’s just playing for two hours every Thursday and Sunday. The group’s really close and there’s a lot of history to it. The founders of the group, who went to Mac like 20 years ago, came to our show this weekend and hung out with us afterward. There’s also a nice sense of tradition and we’re very tightly bonded. Not that I know what Greek Life is like, but I feel like we’re a frat.
What was your favorite skit or performance?
Off the top of my head, I’d say that anything Zoe Bowman or Genevieve Miner has done this year has been pretty brilliant. Once, at a show, they improvised a scene of a TV series called “Baking Bad,” and then they turned that into a written sketch for our sketch show. It’s about two prisoners who bake horrible things using only the materials available to them. So like, a flourless chocolate cake made from cigarettes and lube. I’m not doing it justice. Oh, also, during the 24 Hour Show (RIP) last year and the year before, I probably spent a total of ten hours improvising an elaborate morning talk show with Hannah Rehak ’15 and Erica Solomon ’13.
Can you tell me what you were feeling when you lost to Queer Union in the kickball game?
You know, it’s funny that you ask that, because we actually didn’t lose. We won by a lot. What do you call it in sports? It was a landslide victory. We like to say that in the QU vs. Fresh Concepts Kickball Game there are both only winners and only losers. I’ve never not horribly embarrassed myself that much, but I’ve also never not been so proud of myself and what my friends have accomplished. Everyone just gets out there and pours their heart into the game. Everyone also looks amazing! It makes me wish that I were an athlete, if only I could just be on Fresh Concepts’ kickball team and only play QU.
Was there a kickball game this year and did you win?
Yeah it’s every October. And yes, we win every year. We are undefeated.
Isn’t this only the second year you played QU?
Yeah. We used to play CHEEBA, but surprise, surprise they stopped answering our emails, and we’re not really sure if they’re an org anymore. So last year we were brainstorming who would be the most fun to play. Obviously it was QU, and they did not disappoint. It’s our new tradition.
What else are you involved in on campus?
I was heavily involved in radio but that has unfortunately fallen by the wayside this semester. Not very much beyond that. I have an internship off campus at Graywolf Press, which is a nonprofit, independent press in Minneapolis. I’m an editorial intern so I read crummy manuscripts and the occasional okay manuscript but, it’s a good experience. But yeah other than Fresh Concepts, I’m not too involved at Mac.
Is humor one of your Macalester pillars?
Well actually, besides humor, personal fitness. I took Steve Murray’s weight training class last semester. Best class that I’ve taken at Mac. Best professor I’ve had at Mac. It was an amazing course, and I highly recommend it.
What about the course was so great?
He transformed my body. It was a lot of fun and since then I’ve been lifting with some friends and we have an informal weightlifting team. So I’d say that’s one of my pillars. I’ve noticed that when the tours go through the gym, the tour guides say that there are all these levels of athletic involvement, but personal fitness is always really low. I have some issues with that.
How many people are in your fitness club?
It’s very informal. Julia Sillen ’14 is definitely in it, who I’ll give a shoutout to, along with Joel Mandela and Mulu[gutta Fratkin ’14] and others. It’s really anyone who we can find in the gym and wants to work out.
What’s the shoutout to Julia?
I want to bring her up because we have a really special bond that I want to share with the community. I see her as my creative mirror. We’re each other’s creative mirrors, and doubles, and muses. She just inspires me on a daily basis, whether it’s through personal fitness in the weight room or on a nice jog to the river, or through her art which is amazing and thought provoking just in case you didn’t read the profile on her last week in The Mac Weekly. We just have one of those mystical connections that I think deserves a shoutout.
Can you tell me about the name of your house, Rack City?
They came up with the summer before our junior year. There was this kid in the neighborhood who would always be hanging out in our yard and would occasionally sort of break into our house. I don’t know exactly how he came up with it. I think he was just singing the song a lot, and then it just became a joke, and then it became really real. And now it won’t go away. Someone once came up to me and was like “Whoa, you live in Rack City? I thought that was a bar!” I was like, “It’s definitely not.” Another person asked if it was because we have so many spices on our spice rack. My parents also asked and I told them it was from a song and then of course they asked what the song was about. I was just like, “is this happening?”
How did Rack City start doing Oktoberfest?
So the fall of our junior year we decided to throw an Oktoberfest Party because my housemate Izzy brews beer in our basement. She was going to sell some of her beer and we just got super into it once the idea was formed. We bought kegs, baked 250 pretzels from scratch, bought a bunch of brats and buns, and Julia made this cutouy of a beer girl and a goat that you could stick your head into. I think about 100 people came and our neighbors were also really into it. They were like “pass us a brat over the fence!” So we decided to do the same thing this year. It’s a lot of fun because it starts at around 5:00 in the evening and dies down around 9:00, which is perfect for me because I’m always sleepy. It takes a lot of effort for me to leave the house so Oktoberfest is really nice because I can just be in my backyard and go to bed early. It’s the perfect party. Plus, there are pretzels.