An executive producer and co-creator of “Chicago Party Aunt,” Katie Rich described the raunchy Netflix animated series as an homage to her hometown, where she still resides. “I was in the middle of relocating to Los Angeles and then there was a global pandemic, so I'm currently in Chicago,” said Rich. Thanks to her travels with the Second City improv troupe, Rich said she feels at ease meeting strangers. “No matter who I meet, I know a little something about where they are from, even if it's from a place like Salmon, Idaho,” said Rich, who also was a writer for “Saturday Night Live.”
Q: Do you think your series could've been just as good if it was "Boston Party Aunt" or any other big city
A: Absolutely! The Party Aunt character is pretty universal. We all have one, or a Party Uncle, or maybe we're the Party Relative in our family. And while Chicago is obviously a huge part of the show, as the episodes go on, that universality becomes even more apparent.
Q: New York or Chicago pizza?
A: If we are talking deep dish vs. slices, neither is better, because they are a completely different food. It's like comparing casserole to flat bread. But, I'm a tavern-style girl at heart. I like that you can eat 20 pieces of pizza in one sitting. That's hard to do with New York slices. That being said, one thing I'll say about a New York slice is that its portability can't be beat.
Q: Are you an aunt in real life and, if so, what kind of aunt are you?
A: My brother and sister are 16 and 20 years older than me, respectively, so I actually became an aunt when I was 5 years old. I'm actually a great aunt now if you can believe it! But I feel like I'm the aunt that is going to be straight with you. Like, yeah smoking pot is fine, but you better not touch pills.
Q: Did you do any traveling during this pandemic?
A: Since I was working remotely, my husband and my dog and I started Airbnbing our way around the Midwest in early May of 2020. We would rent these huge places in the middle of nowhere because they were so cheap. And because we couldn't explore towns like we could in the past, we wanted places that were fun on their own. We rented one place in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, that was basically its own resort and ended up celebrating my birthday there a couple months ago with other people. We only recently started flying again, because now everyone seems to be getting married. I will say my fears about flying have now been replaced with stress about "maskholes".
Q: If you had to cancel travel plans due to the pandemic, where were they to?
A: We were going to have a lovely trip to Seattle, which is one of my favorite places – so much so that I went there spring break my senior year in high school. We also were going to go to Mexico to see Phish, so that got postponed as well. But I actually think we ended up traveling more than ever just in the Midwest, tooling around in our little Honda Fit.
Q: What untapped destination should people know about?
A: The Madeira Islands off the coast of Portugal. I lived and performed on a cruise ship for four months and we actually crossed the Atlantic, going from Miami to Europe. We were trapped on a ship for a week, and this was in 2007 when internet on a ship cost, like, $20 a minute and we were all going insane and just wanted to be on land. The first place we docked was the Madeira Islands and none of us knew anything about them really. We stepped off the ship into a magic land of purple trees and bobsleds that take you down hills and we couldn't believe it.
Q: Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?
A: I was lucky enough to get to go to Naples, Italy, which is where my family is from. To be honest, I didn't expect it to be as comforting as it was, but man, did I love it there. It's a gritty town that doesn't really clean itself up for visitors and it reminded me of home so much.
Q: Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
Q: When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A: I always bring a white noise machine, a deck of cards, and a roll of toilet paper. I know that sounds insane, but that toilet paper has come in handy more than once.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With…” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)