Mad About the Girl
Now Sullivan, 26, can look back and laugh. She has emerged as the breakthrough cast member on MAD TV, Fox's sketch-comedy rival to Saturday Night Live. But she's not exactly relaxing—she has a reputation to uphold. "Neurotic," jokes castmate Orlando Jones, who claims he once saw her "smoke 18 cigarettes in 14 minutes." And executive producer Fax Bahr says he hired her immediately after her audition because "there's something tough about her—she could hold her own in a bar fight."
Sullivan won't dispute that. "I didn't have anything handed to me," she says proudly. "I worked real hard." A Manhattan native, she began appearing in Off-Broadway children's theater productions at age 7. Comedy she learned from her "really, really funny" parents, Ed Sullivan, a New York State assemblyman, and Madonna, an antiques dealer (and, yes, she hears plenty of jokes about their names). After majoring in theater at Northwestern and spending a year at London's British American Dramatic Academy, she headed, in 1991, to L.A., where—as Christian Slater learned—her career stalled. Until she got even by getting MAD.
Her waitress days over, Sullivan now spends her evenings in a rented Hollywood home watching TV "in my underwear, with a Diet Coke and Doritos and my cats [C.C. and Madeline]." Her next goal? A boyfriend with the same priorities. "I like guys who watch football and have beer bellies," she says. "And," she adds with a laugh, "who can put up with me."