"You're from St. Louis? You never mentioned that!” comedian Jimmy Kimmel said to his wife and co-head writer of his show, Molly McNearney.
“You love Imo's pizza,” Molly said.
“Oh yeah, it's the best,” Jimmy said with a hint of sarcasm.
The one-liners come easily between this comedy power-couple. Molly McNearney loves Imo's pizza. Her husband is not a fan. He loves the Mets, she's a St. Louis girl to the core.
"I loved, loved, still love St. Louis,” Molly McNearney said. “Loved growing up there, great memories of Busch Stadium. My first crush was Tommy Herr, the St. Louis Cardinals player."
Molly and Jimmy have been married since 2013, but she's been writing some of his funniest lines a lot longer than that. Fifteen years ago, Molly walked through the doors of Jimmy Kimmel Live and worked her way up to co-head writer of the show.
"For me, my kind of signature bit here has been Mean Tweets, which I came up with, I guess, like six years ago," says Molly.
A career highlight?
"Is there any way we could fly Obama to some golf course halfway around the world and just leave him there?”
When President Obama came to the show to read them in 2015. She was pregnant with her first child Jane.
"I was so nauseated doing the Mean Tweets, and I was like, I'm going the throw up on Obama!” Molly said.
Winning awards along the way, she's written for The Emmy and Academy Award shows, Oprah and Meryl Streep. It's a life she couldn't imagine growing up back in Chesterfield.
"I thought 'I'm a St. Louis girl not going to be an actress,'” says Molly. “I'm going to write a really funny ad for Coca-Cola."
She traces her love of writing back to her fourth-grade teacher at St. Clare of Assisi, her elementary school in Chesterfield. Molly went to high school at St. Joseph's Academy, where she dreamed of being a journalist in her hometown.
While Molly shines in the bright lights of Hollywood, she hasn't let them dim her Midwestern values. She says it’s how she was raised, and where she went to high school back in St. Louis, that keep her grounded today.
“I completely credit St. Joe’s for my independence, for my ability to hang in a boy’s club,” says Molly. “I mean, I really do. I love St. Joe’s and I love the values that taught me."
Getting personally involved with the boss was something she never planned.
"I was very scared that if this doesn't work out, I'm screwed,” Molly said. “I mean I have to quit. You're fine. You get to keep this job and you'll be fine,” she said of Jimmy. “But I thought, this is a pretty high-risk thing for me. But he just kept reassuring me and turns out, he was right. It all worked out and we got married. We have two kids now, yeah he's amazing."
But almost exactly one year ago, the laughter stopped. On what should have been one of the happiest days of their lives, Molly and Jimmy faced a crisis no one saw coming.
"He's in an incubator. He's got tubes coming in and out of him, he's, you know, you've seen the photos, it's like really tough to look at."
Just three hours old, their second child, a boy named Billy, was diagnosed with a hole in his heart and headed for open-heart surgery.
"It was terrifying,” Molly said. “Feeling so helpless and scared. Thank God I had Jimmy and I had his family and my family and it was incredible. It's like you have to completely give up. You have no control."
That same day, surgeon's declared Billy's two-hour operation a complete success. Molly says she and Jimmy know they're one of the lucky ones. They still worry about the families they met at the hospital.
"It is a real feeling of helplessness and you just you would do anything to fix your kid you would,” Molly said.
Something Jimmy would put into words when he went back to work a week later.
"I texted, 'Hey, I haven't gotten your monologue,'” she recalled of that day, while she was at home with the kids and Jimmy was at work. “And he said, 'I don't want you to get it in advance. Just watch.' So I sat there with my mom, I was literally breastfeeding Billy. My mom was there helping me with the baby and with Jane, and I watched it and I just started crying. I thought it was so beautiful and vulnerable. It was very brave."
Billy will need another heart surgery when he's older. But doctors say their little boy is on track to have a happy, healthy life. A life Billy and Jane's mom plans to shape around her own childhood experiences.
"I want to make sure that I take the values I grew up with in St. Louis with me with my kids,” Molly said. "I want them to learn those values of how to work to get the things you want I don't want to hand my kids things just because I can."
Values like working hard, being a good person. And while she's not living her childhood dream of reporting the news, she's loving every minute of writing the words that make the rest of us laugh about it.