More than 25 years after she rose to fame with her parody song "Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun," '80s pop icon and comedian Julie Brown is still acting, writing and finding new celebs to make fun of. Brown spoke to TVGuide.com about her latest role on the ABC sitcom The Middle (Wed, 8/7c), and why after all these years she's still asked to perform her hit song.
TVGuide.com: How did you end up on The Middle?
Julie Brown: They brought me in to do this one little bit in the Halloween episode, but they said from the beginning, it's probably going to be bigger. Then they said, "OK, now we're going to have you back to establish you as the neighbor."
TVGuide.com: What can tease about the episode?
Brown: This whole generation of parents — I'm guilty of it too — does too much for their kids. They have a whole episode where the adults are saying we have to make these kids do stuff for themselves. So we're all out and I'm having fun and then say, "I have to go home. My daughter's texting me and wants me to help her with her homework," and they're like, "No, forget it. We have to take back our lives," and I hang up on my daughter.
TVGuide.com: Why are you drawn to writing about pop culture?
Brown: It's compelling to me. I did this new record called Smell the Glamour and when I first started doing it I saw Lady Gaga on Saturday Night Live and completely fell in love with her. I'm like, I have to do her, I have to do a song as if she would do it. I think it's just complete excitement over something you see and when you're referencing pop culture it's a little bit of short hand with the audience. You're not starting from scratch. That recognition can be really fun for an audience.
TVGuide.com: Do you have any new celebrity parodies?
Brown: I did this special on Madonna years ago called Medusa and I never released the music. I had this one song called "Vague" and I just re-recorded it with new celebrities. The end of it goes, "Sarah Palin thinks she's really great / She's just cold boogers on a paper plate / Why they're famous, we don't know / But all the Kardashians have to go." There are all new vague celebrities from the first time I did it.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think comedians like Kathy Griffin get heat for their material, but others seem to love you?
Brown: Yeah, people don't get mad at me. I think because I'm playing the person usually, and I don't like being super mean — it makes me feel bad. It is a fine line. I love Kathy Griffin, I think she's brilliant, but for me, there is a line when I go OK, that's too much. I also think people don't like it when I've done something a little too mean. They like it when it's more light-hearted and ridiculous and fun.
TVGuide.com: You write for Melissa & Joey. Why do you think people are so nostalgic for '80s and '90s culture?
Brown: I think that people have a lot of affection for things that they saw at a certain point in their lives. When I performed two weeks ago I wasn't going to do "Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun," but they're like, "You have to do it." Melissa & Joey feels so familiar and comfortable. It's not just starting over with something, and I think people really like that.
TVGuide.com: Any advice for up-and-coming celebrities dealing with the pressure of fame?
Brown: Your work is a separate thing from you. You are this person who has your friends and your life, and you have to see the separation. If you see the separation between your work and yourself it's so much easier.