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Comedian Jenny Slate on destiny and being a 'terminal optimist'


NPR has a new show called Wild Card With Rachel Martin. It's half-interview, half-game show with an existential twist. Guests have to pick from Rachel's deck of cards. On each card is a big question about the experiences, lessons and beliefs that have shaped their lives. You can hear longer versions of Wild Card as a podcast or over the weekend on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. But we're also going to be featuring some answers here on our weekday program. On this week's episode, Rachel Martin talks with comedian and actress Jenny Slate. She's known for "Parks And Recreation" and "Marcel The Shell With Shoes On." Her latest stand-up special is called "Seasoned Professional."

RACHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: So pick a card one through three.


MARTIN: Oh. Oh, I'm so glad this one came up. Is there anything in your life that has felt predestined?

SLATE: I'm not sure. I don't really connect to the concept of destiny. I mean - and because I met my husband through - he really - I mean, I met him through friends, but he was really a random person. Sometimes I get scared, and I say to him, like, what if we hadn't met each other? What are the chances? And he always goes, a hundred percent. And I like that.

And I don't know about the, like, soulmate thing, but I know - and it sounds so cheesy. But I do feel like I'm like, oh, he is my spiritual match. And I guess I believe in a spiritual eventuality, which you could call destiny. But that it doesn't - it's like a point on the globe, let's say. Like, it's like a point in your life cycle, a fixed point. But it doesn't mean that you'll get there. Like, you still have to do - you have to still do things to get there. It's an option.

But I guess, no, I've never felt that anything was predestined. I've just felt as if every now and then, it feels like there's kind of a meteor shower, and, like, good fortune falls into my life like that. But that doesn't feel like - it just feels like it's random.

MARTIN: Yeah. Have you always been good about appreciating the meteor shower, or has that come later in life for you?

SLATE: I think I actually have been. And I think that's because my mother, who I love dearly, will not be surprised to hear me say that I think sometimes her vernacular can be rather negative. If you ask her to tell a story, it often sounds like as if it were cloudy in the sky. Like, it's just, like, with this sort of tinge of dread and negativity. And it's like - it's kind of drama. It's drama, but I think, like, my response to that has been to be like, no, no, sunshine. No. And it can also make me be, like, a terminal optimist in the worst way, like, almost a fool. But I think I've always truly been keeping that kind of lookout. It's not a Pollyannaish thing. It's looking for light in the dark. That's what it is.

SHAPIRO: That's actress Jenny Slate talking with Rachel Martin. And there's plenty more to that conversation. Just subscribe to Wild Card wherever you get your podcasts. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.