Jamie Lee Focuses on the Funny: An Interview with Comedian Jamie LeeCaragh Poh

If you haven’t been acquainted with Jamie Lee’s comedy yet, you will be soon. She’s popping up everywhere. The semifinalist for Last Comic Standing is all over the Internet with videos on YouTube, making The 18 Funny Women You Should be Following on Twitter on Huffington Post and will soon be seen on television doing a guest spot on an episode of Conan slated for September 26.

I recently had the amazing opportunity to sit down with Jamie to discuss the state of Polynesian politics, eat crumpets and braid each others hair. Just kidding. We used GChat and each sat at our respective computers while on other sides of the country because this is the 21st century and we are modern women who conduct business while riding surfboards of productivity and technology. I hope you didn’t believe my crumpet-based lie, but it’s your own fault if you did. People don’t meet face to face anymore, you bozos. What do you think this is, 1998?

You’ve been named one of the Top 18 Women You Should be Following on Twitter and have recently appeared on Stand Up in Stilletos. While it’s great to see amazing women getting exposure, you would be hard-pressed to see a list titled Top 18 Dudes You Should Be Following on Tumblr or Stand up in Boxer-Briefs. Dudes just aren’t categorized as being part of — or a representative of — their gender in any field, but particularly entertainment. They’re the majority. They don’t need representatives or special interest shows. Do you ever feel boxed in or limited by this? By being pegged as a female comedian instead of just a comedian?

I don’t feel boxed in by it, but I do feel sorry for those who attempt to do the boxing. “Chicks doing comedy? Can you believe it? Broads being funny? Wowee! Let’s round em up!” It’s such an archaic outlook on gender. I never go around actively thinking, “I’m a female.” I go around actively thinking, “How am I going to adjust the wording of this joke so it hits harder?” I think having all-women comedy shows/twitter round-ups etc. are fun in the slumber party sense, but for the most part, I think funny people, men and women, should be created equal – performing and working together. Funny is funny. Focus on the funny – not the difference in hormone levels.

What can you tell us about your latest writing gig, the new television show produced by Conan O’Brian, The Midnight Show with Pete Holmes?

It could potentially be a show that would follow Conan between one and four nights a week on TBS. Pete is a very gifted stand-up and improviser, but he’s also very good about being open, friendly and inviting with an audience. He wants them to feel like, “we’re all in this together!” We were trying to put our own unique spin on the traditional late-night format. There would be interviews and recurring segments in-studio, but there [would] also be sketches and room to play around. Traditional late-night meets “Pee Wee’s Playhouse.”

Your impression of Kim Kardashian is hilarious, and HuffPo tells us that you made the video after watching a marathon session of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Out of my own selfish curiosity, because my feelings about the Kardashians and what they represent in American society are more complex than any interaction I’ve ever had with a real human being, what are your opinions on Kim Kardashian? Or are you just above it all and too busy to think about them as much as I do?

Thanks! I’m just fascinated at how the Kardashians manifest drama out of thin air. They don’t have to go to soul-sucking 9-to-5 jobs, they live luxuriously, the family seems pretty happy and close… yet they find (or create) problems in their lives to harp on and solve. I’m guilty of that as well – like when everything’s fine, I find something to be bummed about just to have something to toss around in my big, goofy head.

What prompted the move from Texas to New York? Was it more to get away from the Texan scene or was it about chasing the New York comic dream? (I’m sorry I can’t make the last half of that question not sound cheesy.)

 I actually didn’t realize I wanted to pursue stand-up until I moved to New York. After college, I worked at Comedy Central so I was watching a ton of stand-up and comedy in general. About six months into the job, it kind of hit me that I should try doing comedy vs. being on the outside, looking in.

How old were you when you did your first open mic stand up performance? What went through your mind before you got on stage?

I started stand-up when I was 23 and I performed my first open mic at the Village Lantern in New York City’s West Village. I did okay – considering it was my first time and my standards for how well I did weren’t even in place at that point. If I got, like, one laugh during my whole set, that was considered progress. I had nothing to compare it to. As for what went through my mind, I think I was trying to fight feeling tired! It was like 1 a.m. and I had work the next day.

Has that changed? What goes through your mind now?

 Before I go on stage, I think about the new jokes I want to try and where I should do them in my set. I frantically write out my jokes right before I go on stage to commit them to my short term memory. Seeing everything I want to talk about in writing beforehand helps me remember to talk about it. Other than that, I don’t do much prep before shows because I feel like the set loses its flare if I over think it. Also, I’m lazy and preparation requires energy!

Do you prefer stand up or making videos? How come?

I don’t have a preference, really. My stand up allows me to share stuff I’ve written, and connect with a live audience. Videos allow me to show off characters, different sides of personality, that kind of thing. I don’t do many act outs in my stand-up. I kinda save acting and silliness for videos. Not even sure why. I guess I just feel more comfortable doing videos because it’s just me and a camera. You aren’t distracted or thrown by the instant feedback of an audience’s laughter – or lack thereof.

Who were 3 people who made you laugh growing up?

 Steve Martin, Wayne & Garth and my best friend Bonnie. And Miss Piggy. Is that three? What are numbers? They’re like letters, but for accountants?

3 people who make you laugh now?

My boyfriend Dan Black is a hilarious improviser and sketch performer so he’s definitely one. A bunch of my comedian friends and my family. My aunts, my uncle, my grandfather. They’re all so funny. That’s more of an Oscar acceptance speech than a proper answer to your question… Bonnie is still a hoot!

Be sure to check Jamie out on Conan this Wednesday, September 26th, read her tweets and watch her videos.

Featured image via afterlifecomedy.com

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  1. I’m loving your comedian interviews, Caragh! I hope you’ll be doing more.

    Kerry Winfrey | 9/25/2012 12:09 pm