Jamie Lee on How to Survive Wedding Season and Why She Prefers Stand-Up
Comedian and writer Jamie Lee (pictured here on her wedding day) guides readers through the wedding planning process in her new book, Weddiculous. She'll be at Tempe Improv on Sunday, Jan. 22, for a stand-up show.
Courtesy of Jamie Lee / HarperCollins Publishers
It’s wedding season, people. Then again, isn’t it always?
That's how it seems here in the Valley, where you probably aren’t battling rainy spring days or freezing winter temperatures during the big day, and everyone knows an outdoor summer wedding is reserved for those who truly hate their guests. That also means nearly everyone has wedding plans — or one to attend — and the questions that come with them. Whether you’re footing the bill for the event, gearing up for another round as a bridesmaid, or checking the “chicken” box on an RSVP card, there’s bound to be something stumping you. How many engagement ring Instagrams are too many? Should we spring for a photographer and videographer? Do I seriously have to feed people?
Comedian Jamie Lee had those queries, and more, as she prepared for her own trip down the aisle last year. Now, she has the answers, in a new book, Weddiculous: An Unfiltered Guide to Being a Bride. The book is less must-do, more do-what-you-want, with advice about skipping the stress of color schemes and facing the fact that your big day will not be the best day ever — probably. Weddiculous is hardly the antithesis of the wedding world, though. It’s a helpful hand-up that reads like it’s been written by your funniest friend.
“The second I got engaged, I kinda just became your typical American bride. I was posting things on Instagram, posting my ring, posting dress options I had seen all over. I just kind of flipped into this bridal mode pretty shamelessly,” says Lee, who co-wrote the book with comedian Jacqueline Novak. “So then it kind of hit us, ‘Why don’t we write a funny book, write it in real time as the wedding planning is happening and make us a real-talk, unfiltered guide to being a bride?’ We always say I was in the field going through the experience, and Jacqueline was back in the newsroom and I was sending her dispatches.
“I think that’s what’s really special about the book. This is not like, I sat down to write this book after I was done getting married. I was writing this book while I was getting married, so I think that I was able to bottle those experiences as they were happening,” she adds.
Though Lee broke into the comedy scene on the stand-up circuit, she’s spent the last several years in the writer’s room pre-Weddiculous, working on the forthcoming HBO series Crashing, starring Pete Holmes and produced by Judd Apatow. She previously worked with Holmes on his TBS late-night show, The Pete Holmes Show, and has made the rounds performing sets on other late-night shows from Conan to Corden.
“I think that for me, there are no other comedy avenues that can ever take [the] place of what stand-up brings to me in terms of joy," she says. "Stand-up is so interactive, and I think that it’s really difficult to get that kind of satisfaction out of putting words down on paper. Being in a writer’s room or working on a script is fulfilling in a specific way, where you just get to sit with your own thoughts and work it out and it’s very cerebral. When you’re doing stand-up, you’re not looking at the past and you’re not looking at the future. It really does keep you in the moment with your audience, and you guys are feeding off of each other’s energies. It’s just very hard to replicate that outside of being on stage.”
Luckily, Lee doesn't have to. “The Weddiculous Tour,” a hybrid of stand-up and book-signing, is taking her back into comedy clubs, including a show at the Tempe Improv on Sunday, January 22. (But don’t expect an hour-long set that just waxes on about weddings.)
In addition to a multi-state tour, Weddiculous, which debuted in late December, also spurred a hashtag campaign and a new e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, where people can write in with ridiculous moments, horror stories, need-to-know questions, or just to vent about the entire process. And it’s not just would-be newlyweds who are reaching out, she says.
“I had a best man write me an e-mail asking me about how to write a speech for his best friend who’s getting married. He was like, ‘I’ve known him for a long time but to be honest, he’s not the greatest guy. How do you write a speech about someone when it feels completely not earned?’” she says. “I was happy that I’m reaching brides, but also anyone who’s involved in a wedding, and that’s pretty much anybody to some degree. Because I think that, you know, the bridal community is a very temporary community but being involved in weddings, that just goes on forever and ever.”
New Times called up the Los Angeles-based comedian ahead of her stand-up set to get some wedding season survival tips for everyone from brides-to-be to plus-ones and single guests. Here are seven suggestions to get you through the big day — be it yours or someone else’s.
Don’t stress about the things you have no control over.
Even if you don't have a type-A personality, every wedding day (and the planning that comes with it) leads to stress: Stress about money, stress about dresses, stress that takes a toll on you — and your relationship. The big day itself doesn’t make things much easier, but by that point you just have to learn to let some things slide and slap on a smile, Lee says.
For her, that moment came right before the festivities. The venue she had chosen for her wedding featured an on-site aviary and promised dozens of white peacocks with it.
“[That was] the big selling point. ‘Experience the magic,’ you know?” she says. “And when we got there most of the peacocks were gone and they’d been replaced with pigeons. They were these disgusto, rats-of-the-sky in cages and I just remember being like, ‘This is so deeply unacceptable that this is actually kind of great.’ So much stuff goes wrong, it’s hilarious.”
You will have awkward or bad photographs. Flying in a photographer won’t prevent that.
Every bridal magazine or newly-nuptialed follower or friend will urge you to invest in both a photographer and a videographer, which Lee doesn’t dispute.
“I think it’s hard to get around having video and having photos because I do think that those things are really important,” she says.
However, “I think that a lot of people will fly in photographers who live in different states because they believe that they really are ‘the best photographer,’ so they’ll spend extra money to get the person from North Carolina to your wedding in Massachusetts,” she says. “Like, okay, but there’s probably someone really great in Massachusetts. Let’s be honest. So, I think you get caught up in the world of everything has to be perfect or it’s going to be a failure, and it’s so untrue.”
Chances are any photographer you hire — like, actually hire rather than trolling Craigslist to find — is a professional that has done their share of wedding sessions before. And of the thousands upon thousands of moments captured that day, a small percentage will be picture-perfect or even usable, Lee adds.
“Let yourself know that some of the photos are going to be shitty and some are going to be amazing,” she says. “Someone who’s a great photographer, who’s done of a lot of weddings will give you those great photos — but they’ll also give you the bad ones. You can’t circumvent that. Some of them are going to be gems and some of them are going to be rotten dirt.”
Read on for more wedding-day advice from Jamie Lee.
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