Today, Slate is dominating the same medium that propagated her life-changing professional and personal embarrassment. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is an extraordinarily likeable "meta-documentary" short starring a diminutive, self-conscious mollusk forced to adapt to human scale. The film stands tall among the defenses of YouTube-driven viral video's artistic and cultural merit, and possesses a rare power to lift the mood of anyone who views it, despite its undercurrent of sadness. Also, it's profanity-free.
Jenny and her director-boyfriend Dean Fleischer-Camp came up with Marcel shortly after she finished that ill-fated SNL season, at a point in her career when Jenny admits she was unsure of her footing—although she didn't know at the time she wouldn't be returning to the show for a second season. "I just wanted to do something that I didn't have to explain," she told me over the phone from Vancouver, where she was filming Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-wrecked. "I think we're lucky that it's popular, being what it is."
Marcel grew around a voice that Jenny started using while sharing a crowded hotel room with a group of friends who had traveled together for a wedding. In an interview for the blog A Bostonian on Film, Fleischer-Camp said that at the time, "I think we both felt very small and lonely and unfulfilled and like we weren't getting our due credit."
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On—which now has over nine million views on YouTube—earned Slate and Fleischer-Camp a two-book deal with Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. The first book, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me, will be published on November 1st of this year.
When asked about the career-changing SNL flub, Jenny is forthright about how much it disturbed her. "I wrote that sketch. I wonder if it was something that I subconsciously did to myself. I am eternally confused by it," she said. "I don't like to make mistakes."