This weekend, stand-up comedian Jamie Lee graces the stage of the DC Improv and join the ranks of stand-up legends like Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle and Georgetown alumnus Jim Gaffigan (MSB ’88) who have performed on that stage. Last week, The Hoya spoke with Lee about her latest projects.
Recently married, Lee decided to commemorate her big day unlike many new brides: Writing an honest wedding guidebook and launching a promotional stand-up tour. “Weddiculous,” which fellow comedian Nikki Glaser praised as the “most honest book about wedding planning anyone has ever written,” provides brides-to-be with hilarious, down-to-earth advice about what their weddings will really be like.
Her favorite piece of advice: “Everyone is going to s−−t-talk your wedding.” “No matter the amount of money or the amount of effort you put into your wedding, someone is going to find something they think is wrong with it, and they’re going to tell other people about it,” Lee said. “If you can allow yourself to accept that kind of horrifying fact, you will, I think, feel a great deal of relief knowing that you can’t control it. So why worry about it?”
Even though “Weddiculous” is a wedding guidebook, Lee does not feel like it fits in perfectly with the rest of the bridal section at Barnes and Noble.
“There’s also a whole other side to wedding planning that’s really emotional and pretty ridiculous, or you could even say ‘Weddiculous’” Lee said. “We just wanted to let people know that they’re not alone when they’re experiencing all the stress and drama.”
According to Lee, most of the literature out there for brides is a part of what she calls “Big Bridal,” a commercial movement centered around giving new brides the expectation of a fairy tale wedding.
“The aesthetic part of your wedding is not the only factor in making a good wedding. In fact, the most lavish wedding I ever went to is one of the worst weddings I ever went to,” Lee said. “We aimed to let people know that you’re not a failure and there’s really no right or wrong way to do this.”
In fact, Lee’s favorite moment from her recent wedding was completely improvised.
“The Thursday before our wedding, a bunch of people were starting to arrive at the hotel, and there was a really informal, casual plan to meet us over at this place at the hotel … We sent out a mass text to people who had already arrived saying, ‘Hey, if you’re around and hungry, come meet up with us,’ and so many people came to that,” Lee said. “It was very organic the way it happened, and the fact that it didn’t really take any planning at all made it more special.”
Lee’s career has hardly been on hold despite her recent nuptials. She is currently writing on Pete Holmes’ HBO series “Crashing,” a show about a struggling comedian whose wife leaves him. According to Lee, the show is actually a lot more inspiring than it sounds.
“Pete’s show is more about new beginnings, like we see the marriage in the pilot. You kind of get the backstory about the marriage falling apart, but really it’s about someone who’s picking up and starting over, so it’s actually more inspiring than depressing,” Lee said.
Although “Crashing” is Lee’s first foray into narrative writing, she considers it a welcome challenge.
“When you write on talk shows the pressure on you is just to write a bunch of jokes, and then, when you’re writing on a narrative show, the pressure is to make sure that the characters in the story do something for the audience and that the audience connects with them,” Lee said.
Previously, Lee had written on Holmes’ late-night talk show “The Pete Holmes Show” on TBS, and is now starring in the MTV series “Girl Code,” which recently wrapped up its fourth season. She also hosts a podcast, “Jamie Lee’s Best of the Worst,” as well as the show “10 Things” on TruTV. Lee is now developing her own half-hour comedy series for Bravo, as well as a feature film with James Corden of“The Late Late Show.” Although she is now a successful comedian with a busy schedule, she did not always know she wanted to be a comic.
“I didn’t know for sure until post-college. I did a comedy show on our student news channel, and then my first job out of college was working for Comedy Central, and I knew then I wanted to be around comedy,” Lee said.
“Girl Code,” a show that creates a space for female comics to talk about gender-specific topics without worrying about appealing to male audiences, has helped Lee develop her own comedy style.
“On that show everybody kind of has their own role. They encourage you to just be yourself,” Lee said. “It really makes you kind of hone in on who you are as a comedian, and it also makes advice-giving funny which really helped with the book.”
Jamie Lee is performing at DC Improv from Feb. 17 to 19. Her new book “Weddiculous” is on sale now, and “Crashing” premieres on HBO on Feb. 19.