Tohn’s first-ever acting credits were playing two distinct characters on the CBS comedy — first in 1994 as Fran Drescher’s second-cousin Tiffany, then in 1996 as a mini-Drescher look-a-like [pictured here]. A huge fan of the series, getting the role literally made the earth move beneath her feet.
After settling into the Los Angeles hotel where she’d stay during filming, Tohn says, “the room almost immediately flooded because [an] earthquake cracked the pool.” The quake also destroyed The Nanny set, causing Tohn to go home to New York and then fly back a week later to film her first ever speaking part.
When Tohn first auditioned for the soon-to-be TV juggernaut she had no idea what she was in for. “‘The Sopranos? Like, I’m going to have to sing? Oh that’s going to be hard, I’m an alto,'” she recalls thinking. “No one knew what The Sopranos was.”
That didn’t stop Tohn from auditioning for the part of Heather (Silvio Dante’s rarely seen daughter), even though getting the role meant leaving the University of Delaware, where she had just moved to begin her freshman year. “We went up for orientation, and I was supposed to stay.” But when Hollywood called, “I missed the first week of college shooting [the series]”.
Tohn’s two-line role on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off wasn’t exactly what she had envisioned when she first read the script. “That was a perfect example of where I auditioned for something else, and they were like ‘Hey, we gave that part to a famous person, but we have this part that has a few lines.’ I barely remember it.”
However, she does clearly recall the casting process. “Weirdly enough, I remember the audition room going crazy well and me leaving and being like ‘Oh s–t, did I just book a part on Angel?’. And then finding out, ‘No, you sure didn’t! But do you want to pop over and say two words?’”
Tohn is good friends with Veronica Mars herself, Kristen Bell, but that’s not how she landed the role of a Hearst College resident assistant in Season 3. In fact, she didn’t even tell Bell about the audition until much later. “It’s weird with a situation like that, when you’re such close friends with someone who is so successful,” she says. “I would never be like, ‘Hey! Get me on Veronica Mars.’”
Now, since GLOW premiered, Tohn finds herself fielding casting requests from acquaintances. “It’s like, what do you want me to do?” she jokes. “I’m just trying to keep my own job over here.”
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA
Tohn does not hold back any enthusiasm when describing her time on the fan-favorite series: “Always Sunny was the dream!” Her experience on the set even helped her hone in on what she wanted for her career. “I was just like ‘Oh yeah, this is what I do’. It sort of lit a fire under my a– to want to write stuff.”
Tohn does have one wish for her role as Dennis’ environmentally-friendly hippie/hook-up: that they showed more of it. “There was this really fun monologue I had,” she says. “I always secretly wished a director’s cut would come out of that season.”
Tohn took a break from scripted series in 2009 when she tried out for Season 8 of American Idol. Filming the series was quite a departure from her experience on other sets. “When you’re on a scripted show, you’re treated like an equal. You auditioned for this, you got the part fair and square,” she says. “But on a reality-show set, you’re treated like you’re just supposed to feel lucky. And you do, because, like 118,000 people tried out for Idol the season I was on, so even to make the Top 36 is insane.”
Tohn took her final bow in her sixth episode of the competition series, performing Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation” before being eliminated.
While playing a drug addict/alcoholic from a Partridge-esque family, Tohn got to show off her musical skills alongside her acting chops, but that performance almost didn’t happen. “They were going to have someone dub over my vocals and cut away from my hands and have someone else play guitar and keys,” she recalls.
However, Tohn jumped on the opportunity to do what she loves, volunteering her services for the musical element of her role. “It was this weird thing of not wanting to overstep my boundaries, but also like, ‘Heyo! Let me do it’. It’s weird to already have the part and then still try and get the part.”
CSI: NEW YORK
Tohn knows she’s done well when the women at her mom’s gym are talking about her performance. Or as her mom puts it, “The Curves in Oceanside [NY] was buzzing” about her Season 7 turn on the CBS procedural. Tohn played opposite longtime friend Eddie Cahill, as the bitter ex of one of Det. Flack’s informants, and clearly the gym ladies approved. “I gauge things when they hit my mom’s universe. I’m like ‘Oh, a lot of people are seeing this, this is pretty cool.’”
HOUSE OF LIES
Tohn’s casting in this Kristen Bell comedy also had nothing to do with her bestie, a fact she finds bizarre. “I was touring doing standup, and Felicia [Castrono, casting director] was like, ‘Where are you? I want to give you this part’.” Castrono had previously cast Tohn in her first film, Deuces Wild, opposite a young James Franco.
“[House of Lies] was something I didn’t even audition for,” she says. “I had tried out for something else and they liked my tape and were like ‘You know what? She’d be good for this scene in the threesome with Ben Schwartz where she’s coming on to [Don] Cheadle’.”
Tohn describes her turn as the “Snooki meets Genius Bar” hacker Rita as incredible, boasting that “Nathan Fillion is one of the kindest co-stars a person can have.”
Tohn and Fillion bonded over a shared frustration after coming across an atrocious parking job on their way to set. “I go, ‘Look at this a–hole,’ and he goes, ‘Oh my god. People parking like this makes me angry.’ And he runs to his car and comes back with a small stack of magnets — that he had made(!) — that say ‘I’m sure you’re a perfectly lovely person… but you park like an a–hole’. He gave me, like, 10 of these magnets.” Tohn hasn’t “had the balls to use one yet” she says, but they’re still in her car, just waiting for the right moment.
THE GOOD PLACE
The Good Place marked Tohn’s third time guest-starring on a Kristen Bell series, playing a member of Adam Scott’s gang from The Bad Place, alongside future GLOW co-star Sunita Mani.
Yet again, Tohn was hired based off an audition for another role. Casting director Allison Jones had recently cast Tohn as Gilda Radner in the upcoming film A Futile & Stupid Gesture, opposite Emmy Rossum, Seth Green and Joel McHale. “It was like a month after we finished the movie, and she happened to be casting The Good Place and brought me in.”