McGinnis: BGSU alum seeks return to TV with reality showWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Toledo Free Press Star last profiled sketch comedian and BGSU alum Jessica Joy, she had just landed a role on the new NBC series “The Playboy Club.” The very day her story hit newsstands, word came out that the show had been canceled.
In early January, OWN first aired a sneak preview of a new potential reality series called “My Life is a Joke,” focused on five female comedians in the Chicago area. Joy was one of its cast members. Toledo Free Press Star contacted her to see if she’d be interested in a new interview. Shortly afterward, it was announced that OWN had decided not to pick up “My Life.”
“It’s hard, because I never wanted to be on a reality show,” she said. “But that being said, I loved this group of people. I grew to love and to know these other girls. Kelly Howard has become a close friend, and I think the world of her. And I’m not worried about any of these girls; I think they will all do great things.”
Besides, “My Life” isn’t necessarily finished. The show is currently being shopped around to other networks, so there may be life in “Life” yet.
The show was the brainchild of comedian Page Hurwitz. “It was kinda like her dream to focus a show on female stand-up comedians, because she was one, and she’s got mad love for comedy,” Joy said.
Of course, Joy isn’t a stand-up comic, as she’s the first to admit — her strength is the kind of sketch material she excelled in while at The Second City in Chicago. So even garnering a position on Hurwitz’s show was a bit unlikely.
“She came to Second City randomly and saw me, and she approached me and my agent about doing the show. And at first I was totally wary because, as much as I love watching reality shows, I would never want to be on one. And my first question to her was, ‘Is it one of those things where we live in a house and get voted off?’ And she said, ‘No.’ And I was like, ‘OK, I’ll keep listening.’”
The show followed Joy as she underwent a screen test for “Saturday Night Live” and discussed her battle with cancer. She said she was completely comfortable being so open on national television, as she has experience with being straightforward via her Twitter feed and other social media.
“I live my life on the Internet. It’s addictive and kind of scary, but I put so much stuff on the Internet that there’s really — I don’t have a lot to hide,” Joy said. “There’s nothing that I’m really ashamed of or worried about, so I come clean about everything.”
As “My Life” remains in limbo, Joy continues to press for opportunities. Following a wildly successful stint off-Broadway with the spoof “50 Shades! The Musical,” which garnered coverage and praise from national media sources like Time magazine, she has remained in New York for the past few months for pilot season — that wonderful period of uncertainty when actors strive for roles in shows on the upcoming fall television schedule.
“First they get cast with, you know, names, and then the parts trickle down to people like me. So you can get, you know, the small, recurring roles. So that’s happening, and it’s always better to be in a bigger city,” Joy said.
“A lot of the parts I hear about or read about, my agent comes back and says, ‘Well, they’re looking for a name, but when they don’t get one, that’s when they’ll come to people like you.’ I’m kind of in that position where I’m not completely green, but I’m by no means sought after. I’m really just one of the millions — I maybe have just a hint more recognition, but maybe not even that much.”
Still, if Joy’s experience with “50 Shades” has taught her anything, it’s that you can never know what will happen, when something will catch the public’s fancy and become a phenomenon.
“It was just, like, the right moment. And that’s the kind of thing that drives networks and people in charge crazy, is that you can’t control it. You can’t decide what will go viral. And as much as corporations hire comedians to write them viral videos, as much as they would love to have that down to a science, it just isn’t.”
Email Toledo Free Press Star Pop Culture Editor Jeff McGinnis at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.