2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for actress/writer/comedian Jamie Lee. Season three of the Pete Holmes/Judd Apatow HBO series Crashing premiered in January, starring Lee as Ali Reissen, a sassy New York City stand-up. She’s also appearing in another HBO comedy hit, 2 Dope Queens. We caught up with the 35-year-old comedian by phone to discuss her evolving role on Crashing, her hometown of Dallas, and why she refused to be a goat on her wedding day.
Your 2017 debut comedy album, I Mean…, features hilarious riffs on hookups, tying the knot, and rough sex. Does stand-up still give you a safe space to navigate the dark corners of your brain?
Without comedy I might not have an outlet for exploring my dark side, and I feel very grateful to be able to do it. I mean, other types of writing and performing are really satisfying, but stand-up is kind of a catchall that lets you write and perform and sort of say whatever you want. And connect with people over ideas that maybe they’ve thought, but didn’t have the confidence to articulate.
The flaws that I see within myself, when I put them through the filter of comedy, I only appreciate more. I start to view them not as flaws, but as things that define me. What’s important about stand-up is that it takes the things you might deem bad or complicated and makes them kind of hilarious and beautiful.
In season three, episode four, of Crashing, you take on the obnoxious and overrated comedian/club owner Jason (Dov Davidoff). Was there catharsis in that?
My character, Ali, is dealing with this headliner who says whatever he wants, and thinks that makes him edgy and important. Ali proceeds to stand it up as a lot of totally off fluff. It was really thrilling to be able to portray a comedian who was taking a stand, and standing up to him.
One of the things I like about Ali is that she’s subverting people’s stale notions of female comics.
It’s really important to have this depiction of a girl stand-up on TV right now. We’re obviously living in a pretty complicated climate where a lot of people are putting close eyes on these issues of sexism and sexual harassment and being “woke.” Episode four does a really good job of tackling all of those things, and in a pretty realistic way.
I think my favorite moment would be the parking-lot scene at the end. Jason was provoked to come at me. Ali probably wouldn’t give him the time of day otherwise, but because he was attacking her directly, she really let him have it.
You’ve said that episode six, which you wrote yourself, is your favorite.
Yes. The episode is very relatable to me in my own life because when you do a stand-up set on a late-night TV show for the first time, you have a lot of friends who want to make a party out of it.