My favorite meal is brunch! Nothing better than getting together with friends on the weekend for delicious food and catching up on what's happening. I love comedy! I love to laugh and make people laugh. I also love talk shows! I want to have my own talk show one day! And I love Broadway! So, when it was suggested I interview comedian/performer/writer Jamie LeeLo about her Brunch Night!, a late-night talk show that challenges the traditional format, I got out my menu and ordered up some funny! The laughter that came from this interview is just a sampling of what will be taking place at Brunch Night! at Carolines on Broadway on September 10 at 9:30pm, featuring Tony and Emmy Award winner Bebe Neuwirth and musical guest Emily Danger (one of Amy Poehler's Smart Girls' featured "Smartists").
Brunch Night! with Jamie LeeLo is a late-night talk show that challenges the traditional late-night set up, casting away the Man in a Suit at a Desk template for a girly, bright, fresh and fun approach. Brunch Night! is theatrical, but also grounded, combining all the "feel good" of a daytime talk show with the edgy, late-night bite that only live, intimate theater can provide. Click here for tickets!
1. On September 10, you have the next installment of Brunch Night! at Carolines on Broadway with special guest Emmy and Tony Award winner Bebe Neuwirth. What are you looking forward to most about this show? We are honestly just so excited to be at such an iconic venue!! It's one of those pipe dreams as a kid for me, visiting the city around the holidays and always passing Carolines thinking "Wouldn't it be so, so cool to perform there some day?" I'm from a very small town in central Pennsylvania, so I'm still really seduced by all the bright lights and big city feel of Broadway and Times Square. I'd go back home after visiting NYC and milk my cows and think about watching the ball drop all year. Just kidding, I didn't have any cows. My neighbors did.
2. Why did you want Bebe Neuwirth as your next guest? How has her career influenced yours? Why WOULDN'T we want Bebe Neuwirth as our guest? She's an insane inspiration that has shined on the small screen, big screen, and Broadway stages. It's incredible. She's also our first Tony award winning guest! I'm just so excited to talk to her and soak up whatever knowledge and insight I can. I have to make sure I smell nice. Wouldn't it be embarrassing if her big take away is I smelled weird?
3. Let's go back to the beginning for a moment. How did you come up with the concept and format of Brunch Night!? What made you want to have your own talk show? Brunch Night! started as an excuse to perform comedy, eat whatever I wanted on stage, drink whatever I wanted on stage, interview my hilarious friends and have a reason to wear a dress and tease my hair. The long version is that I'm in it to prove there's a space for female's in late-night television, and that "girly" doesn't mean "trivial" and that "playful" doesn't mean "dumb." I knew from the beginning that I'm not selling what the big wigs of late-night right now are selling. (cough cough middle aged white men cough cough), and I knew I needed a different angle. Brunch is, like, my favorite thing. You get to hang out with your friends, booze and gossip and feel good. That is the inspiration for Brunch Night!. No cynicism, just fun.
4. What makes Carolines on Broadway the perfect venue for Brunch Night!? It's Broadway, baby! We are very theatrical, high energy and I love love love the pomp and circumstance of being on Broadway right next to Times Square. We're not meant for a basement underground scene (though that's perfect for lots of comedy out there). That's just not our show. You can expect lots of musical numbers, theatrics, pyro-technics, live animals and a hologram of Tupac. Just kidding about the pyro-technics. Tupac will be there though.
5. If you could give people one reason as to why they should come to Brunch Night!, what would that reason be? I'd say come for the comedy, stay for the baked goods, leave with my co-host and producer, Mehdi Barakchian. He's a heart throb, comedic genius, business power house and smells like the woods and expensive cocktails. That - and it's just the most fun you can have at a comedy show. We infuse each show with unexpected segments, surprise guests and muffins. I can't stress the muffins enough. Also, Mehdi is taken because I'm dating him. OMG SCANDAL.
6. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Brunch Night!? I hope they come away with laughter in their hearts and onion rings in their bellies. Truthfully, I just want them to laugh their butts off and know there's an alternative to the late-night format they're used to (and it's a damn fun one). And seriously, highly recommend the onion rings at Carolines.
7. Who or what inspired you to being a comedian/performer/writer? Comedy was always the thing for me. I thought it was ballet for a hot minute, then maybe becoming a famous pop star with just one first name, then maybe acting school - but all of that was like, really hard. I could always make people laugh and I recognized early on that cracking my family and friends up is what I loved to do most. I remember watching I Love Lucy as a kid and thinking she was so much more lovable, hilarious and talented then anyone else on TV. And that included Jonathan Taylor Thomas at this time in my life, so you know it's a big deal.
8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? The short list? Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Kegan, Jon Stewart, the animators of Finding Nemo, the red and yellow M&M guys...the list is infinite.
9. What have you learned about yourself from being a comedian/performer/writer? I'm not awesome at making decisions right away. I much prefer to dwell over my options in the wee hours of the night while eating a block of cheese thinking of all the plausible consequences to my actions. There is this entire back stage to running a show that takes an army. Luckily, Brunch Night! has one of the most bad ass teams out there. I'm super lucky to be surrounded by talented, lovable people I can lean on. That's one thing I've learned. I need people. I'm not really a loner. That's one reason straight stand-up isn't for me right now.
10. What's the best advice you've ever received? My mom told my brother and I growing up that it didn't matter if we were the smartest or most talented, but as long as we were kind we would get very far in life. And my Dad is the biggest example of hard work paying off I've ever seen. Between them, that advice has served me so well. It can be a nasty, competitive industry and the dog-eat-dog mentality stresses me out and makes me feel shitty. I'd much prefer to grow through relationships and hard work then by kicking other people down. She taught me that and to always wear mascara if you're gonna leave the house. I mean WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY, PEOPLE.
11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To have the ability to slow down time and enjoy the moments worth relishing in. Life is really fast right now and everyone is in a hurry for the next thing, next thing, next thing and to keep up you have to move at the speed of light. But the other day, Mehdi and I were riding his motorcycle (omg I know) and the sun was setting behind the NYC skyline and because we were on a motorcycle I couldn't check my emails or phone - because, ya know, I'd fall off or whatever - and I thought "I would like to ride this motorcycle for the next two days."
12. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? It'd be called "Young & Beautiful" and it would be tequila, orange juice and unicorn tears.
Jamie LeeLo hails from a small town in Central Pennsylvania and is really excited to be in NYC. She is a comedian, performer and writer who has trained with The Second City, The Peoples Improv Theater and The Upright Citizens Brigade. Jamie performs stand up and storytelling around the city and east coast universities, and is thrilled to be a tour member of the Awkward Sex and the City storytelling show. She is also the proud creator and host of the live talk show, Brunch Night! with Jamie LeeLo, which involves muffins and alcohol. You can catch her performing improv around the city or hanging out on the street waiting for ice cream and taco trucks to go by.
Mehdi Barakchian was born in New York City and currently lives in New Jersey — and doesn’t care for your opinion on the matter. He has studied sketch and improv at The UCB and The Peoples Improv Theater. Mehdi is the producer and sidekick on the critically acclaimed late night talk show Brunch Night! with Jamie LeeLo. Most recently, he helped develop and acts as Producer for UCB Comedy’s live theater show UCB Comedy Live! which was a TimeOut NY Critic’s Pick. He also produces and hosts the cross-theater improv show No Affiliation which brings improvisers from different theaters to play on one stage. He regularly performs improv and sketch all over NYC with his indie teams Bueller and Kibbles and Bits. In addition to teaching classes at the Peoples Improv Theater, you can catch him performing weekly with PIT improv house team Lovers.