Comedian Jamie Lee is a writer on the upcoming HBO series Crashing starring Pete Holmes, one of the stars of MTV’s Girl Code, and hosts truTV’s 10 Things. She’s developing a series for Bravo and a feature film with James Corden right now, and she was named one of the “Top 18 Women You Should Be Following on Twitter” by The Huffington Post, and the “52 Female Stand-Up Comedians You Need to Know” by Refinery29. You’ve also seen her on The Late Late Show, Conan, Last Call with Carson Daly, @midnight, and that’s just the beginning. Jamie just released her first book Weddiculous: The Unfiltered Guide to Being a Bride, published by Harper Collins. We got to talk with her about the new book.
It’s an interesting time and age for women right now. Millions worldwide took to the streets to demand that their rights be respected, and recognized, and to protest the inauguration of a man whose priorities don’t seem very female friendly. Change is in the air.
One thing that hasn’t changed, is that a lot of women still want to get married, and they still want a Wedding with a capital W. But all the ‘guidance’ out there comes from big bridal, a powerful group that delivers sales pitch after sales pitch, because weddings are a huge business. Let’s be honest, the books are crap and they definitely aren’t funny. When comedian Jamie Lee got engaged, she and her friend comedian Jacqueline Novak decided to take on big bridal and create the wedding book she would have liked to read. It’s funny, it’s real, and it calls out the bullshit you are inclined to run into along the way.
Lee sold the idea soon after getting engaged and wrote the book while she planned her own wedding. The process (both writing the book and being engaged) took about a year and a half. The end result is a funny, smart, no bullshit guide to being a bride. Not everyone still wants the fantasy, but for those who do, this is your book.
Writing the book while she was actually planning her wedding made it insanely honest, she said. And part of that honesty, she says, means admitting to yourself that you still want that fantasy wedding. “The big thing for us was when I got engaged, all of the materials out there had this feeling of big bridal. It all felt like they’re selling a fantasy, which is super fun. I’m not here to shit on the fantasy. It’s the only time in our life that you get to be a part of that fantasy and not feel like a crazy person. You know what I mean? A lot of people, myself included, have a wedding Pinterest Board well before they’re getting married, well before they’re even in a relationship because the fantasy is fun, and fuck it just is.”
But she also wanted the book to be a real guide for brides that takes in the reality of weddings- not just the budgeting and choosing a cake- but also the real divisiveness between you and your fiance and your families. “I look back and it’s like ‘Nam flashbacks. The things that I went through, conversations I had, feelings I had, crying fits in my car alone on the side of the road. That sounds dramatic, but that legitimately happened on more than one occasion.” Lee wanted her book to go beyond the cliche advice to be a book that celebrates the fantasy, but also has a real conversation about how hard it is from someone who has been through it, and was going through it at the moment the book was written. “I was writing this book as I was going through it because I thought that sort of another thing that didn’t exist on the bookshelf, was a real-time account of the thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences that happen while you are gearing up for this event.”
It was friend and fellow comedian Jacqueline Novak (author of “How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows”), who first suggested a book about weddings. Jamie explained how the idea came about.
“Jacqueline and I had wanted to work on a book together for a while and we tossed ideas around. When I got engaged, she was the one who texted me, she actually texted me, “That’s the book,” and I didn’t even need further explanation. I knew exactly what she meant. I knew, we have to write the real wedding book, like we have to write the real, funny wedding book and we both did some cursory research to see if that already existed and it didn’t, so it was kind of this serendipitous moment where everything just sort of came together. The great thing about it is that we refer to it as like I was in the field and Jacqueline was back in the newsroom, and I was sending her dispatches.”
By the end, having a co-author was incredibly useful she said, because editing can get psychotic. “I read the book like 17 times start to finish over and over. Every time you read it you notice something differently and it just was really helpful to have two sets of eyes looking at things and making sure that we’re wording things properly and that we’re saying what we actually want to say as succinctly as possible. As many eyes as you can get on it is very valuable.”
Jamie Lee used all her conversations with vendors and awkward moments with family as material. Jacqueline was her sounding board and would let Jamie know where she needed to expand on an idea or explain her point of view better. The result is a hybrid between a comedy book and a real guide with real advice.
Lee got some great endorsements for the book too. James Corden, Nikki Glaser, Pete Holmes, Conan, Phoebe Robinson, all praised Weddiculous. If those don’t strike you as names of people who would endorse a wedding planning book, that’s because it’s Jamie they’re backing more than the subject of the book. Jamie has worked with all of them in one way or another, and may even be doing a project or two that she can’t talk about yet with one or more of her celebrity endorsers. Jamie went on Conan earlier this month to promote the book too. Although she’s done stand up on late night shows before, it was her first time doing panel- an experience she described as surreal.
“It’s funny because every time I’ve done stand-up on TV, I have this panic beforehand. Even though I’ve done it multiple times now, enough to where I should be like, Jamie, talk yourself down from a ledge, you know how this goes. It always ends up fine. You always end up excited that you did it. But, for some reason I just had this irrational panic for days leading up and then especially in the dressing room, when you’re getting your makeup done. People will be talking to me and I won’t even be able to respond I’m so in my head and then I actually started referring to the walk from the Green Room to your mark standing behind the curtain to open for you to walk out. I refer to that as the march of death. My friend calls that the green mile. It does have this really heavy sadness to it where I’m like, “Oh, this could go either way. Am I about to die on national TV?, I don’t know. Then, this time, for some reason, I panicked really hard the day before, the night before, but then when I got there and I was sitting at Conan, I got really, really calm, almost as if I were high, and it’s just like relax super hard. Then when they called me to go to my mark, I was excited. I was like, “Oh, I just get to like talk, that’s fine, I know how to talk.” It was just a much more pleasurable experience.
On Conan, she said the book was meant to convey a proper sense of reality, and to be funny about it at the same time. “There’s so much stress in the wedding planning process that I want to take that stress and refocus it on other things. Like are you marrying the right guy.”
You can buy Weddiculous on Amazon and everywhere books are sold. Follow Jamie Lee on Twitter @TheJamieLee