The comedian recounts his upward trajectory, talks about Emmy and wants to be “an evil boss” in the MCU.
Between her scene-stealing role as professional trickster-turned-principal Ava on “Abbott Elementary” and her new host gig on ABC’s summer game show, “The Final Straw,” comedian Janelle James is at the rise – and an Emmy nominee (or better yet, win) could easily be in her future.
But she’s not letting all that good buzz go to her head just yet.
Telling TooFab that the emotions surrounding her upward trajectory come “in waves”, James said she’s “always really trying to keep living my life as much as possible” – adding, “I don’t want to get too caught up in it because ‘then you panic. I think I will if I do, maybe it’s coming for me and it hasn’t hit me yet.
“But I’ve been up for 10 years and when you talk to any of the established stand-up comedians, 10, that’s what they say when things happen,” she continued. “I kind of expected it – I didn’t know it would be this — but I expected to find my thing. And then here we are. I’m just happy, all of these experiences have been fun and everyone I’ve worked with has been really cool – I’ve heard that doesn’t happen often in the entertainment industry – how lucky am I- I ?”
“The Final Straw” is her second ABC gig and it’s clear they’re happy to be in the Janelle James business.
“It’s not a bad network to be connected with, I don’t know if you heard,” she cracked, joking that she “just talked to Mickey” and he “s often ‘informed’ of her. And hopefully he’ll keep sending her checks, too — because James’ work on “Abbott Elementary” not only earns him some serious social media love on Twitter and rave reviews, but serious Emmys to speak of. In a number of prediction plays and dream ballots, her name has appeared in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series category.
“Honestly, I didn’t know that was a possibility until a few weeks ago I was even in talks for some Emmys stuff and it’s, yeah, it’s kinda crazy,” she told TooFab when asked about the buzz. “It would be cool to win. I’m not going to obsess because why focus on something that wasn’t even in my line of sight weeks ago.”
“If it happens, it’s amazing and if it doesn’t, it just doesn’t, I still have those two amazing jobs,” she continued. “I try not to focus on things that are out of my control. Especially when I’m having a good time in real life.”
While no fan has asked James to insult them to their face just yet – “You give people ideas, I don’t work off the clock!” she exclaimed to the question – viewers are start associating him with his terrible on-screen persona in the most hilarious way.
“She’s an iconic character, as the kids say. She’s iconic. And I get it. I don’t think I, myself, Janelle James, would ever rip off kids, but…I like to be associated to the hilarious aspect of her,” she said. “But the scammer part is like, ‘Hey, that’s not me!'”
“I’m also – and this is going to sound dishonest – but I’m also not someone who always wants to be on camera like she does,” James continued. “But it’s nice to have another format where people will meet me, the person outside of the character. People think I’m her, that’s I guess I’m doing a great job, so I’m taking it like that.”
Premiering on July 10, “The Final Straw” sees James host a series of competitions in which teams compete to remove precarious items from giant themed towers made up of everything from artificial seafood to kitchen appliances. And appearing as herself and not as an outrageous game show character was part of Janelle’s appeal.
“One of the reasons I liked it when they came to me and asked me to host it, they assured me that they would let me get as invested in the show as possible. . It’s a gift for a comedian,” she said. Explain.
“Then, of course, there are also game show aspects that have to happen. I have to say, ‘We’ll be back after these posts,’ which I never thought I’d say,” she said. for follow-up. “I almost cried the first time I said that. I’ve been watching game shows since I was a kid and I never thought it would be me.”
James said it was “so stressful” watching the contestants get to work on the tower, facing elimination with every item they pull from the pile. Although James wants them all to win — “It’s not my money I’m giving away!” – she’s not allowed to offer advice, not that there’s really much to give anyway.
“It took me maybe six episodes to come up with a strategy,” she said, adding, “It’s really a game of chance and gravity. You build things and then they fall.”
Now that she has a comedian, comedy writer, sitcom actress, and TV host under her belt, what’s next for James?
“Look, I’ll do anything. I wanna do anything. I’ll probably do a travel show at some point, I’d like to do some cooking stuff or whatever. As long as I can be myself, that’s what comedy allows you to do, what chance do we have?” she answered. “I guess I’ll do my dramatic turn that comedians do at some point, I’ll do my ‘Patch Adams’ or whatever.”
As the interview draws to a close, we noted that with her Disney ties to ABC, she should be trying to get into the MCU. Marvel is of course also owned by Mouse House.
“MCU, oh my god, you see that’s exactly…that’s what I have should say it because it’s a goal!” she said. “An evil boss would be awesome.”
“The Final Straw” premieres July 10 on ABC, while “Abbott Elementary” has been renewed for a second season. Emmy nominations, meanwhile, will be announced on July 12.