Lip Salve and a Steamer: Comedian Sasheer Zamata‘s Must-Packs

As a stand-up comedian and former military brat, the SNL vet has fully embraced the nomad life — jet lag and all.

As told to Yolanda Wikiel
Illustrations by Spiros Halaris

Sasheer Zamata is an actress, comedian, perhaps best known for her work on Saturday Night Live. She has served as a celebrity ambassador for the American Civil Liberties Union working with their Women’s Rights Project. Her work takes her around the world; here are some of her best strategies for surviving that flight-filled lifestyle.

Home base

Brooklyn for the past nine years. My dad is retired from the air force, so I moved around a lot growing up. I was born in Japan. Then we moved to Kentucky, then Texas, Virginia, California, and Indiana. Someone once told me, “That’s probably one of the reasons you’re funny.” It’s a survival mechanism: If I make jokes, people will accept me.

Packing M.O.

As light as possible — one backpack and one carry-on. Sometimes I’m traveling just for a weekend or a day for a show. With my dad being in the military, he taught me to roll my clothes. You save so much space. I also pack a tiny steamer. If I have a dress I don’t want wrinkled, I’m prepared.

Impractical thing I no longer pack

I was trying to teach myself to play the harmonica. So I was like, I’ll travel with it, and when I’m bored on the road, I’ll fiddle around. But then TSA always stopped me and asked, “What is this long metal thing?” And that’s why I no longer bring my harmonica — it was just taking up too much time in security.

Flight routine

I put on an eye mask. I feel very bougie. I fall asleep immediately, sometimes before takeoff. My body is like, “We’re on a plane! This is where we sleep!” My schedule is all over the place: shows at night, or early-morning calls for a shoot, or sleeping until 3 p.m. I guess I get jet lag, but I’m always tired. My body just says, “We’ll adjust, wherever we are.”

I never leave home without

My lips get dry on the plane, so it’s a miserable day if I don’t have Rosebud Salve on me. It’s very smooth, and it doesn’t taste like anything. And I get cold all the time, so I also bring a blanket because I don’t trust the ones they pass out on the plane. I didn’t realize until recently that airlines reused them! So I bought this tiny blanket that you can roll up supertight.

How I feel at home wherever I am

I had acid reflux last year, and the doctor said to prop my head with an extra pillow because it’s better for my throat, so I used my travel neck pillow. Now I sleep with my neck pillow all the time. When I travel, it’s still with me. It feels nice and familiar.

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