You can never have too much Janelle James, so if you miss Abbott Elementary, her new game show The Final Straw on ABC is here!
The game show includes four teams who must battle against tipping towers of doom.
“I feel hashtag blessed as they say,” James told Shadow and Act in a recent interview when we asked about hosting the series fresh off the success of Abbott Elementary. “Like, it’s a dream situation for a comedian to be on a show that’s comedy based and I’m being hilarious over there and it’s scripted– and then I get to come over here and be myself and have my own brand of comedy in a show that’s also funny and fun to do. It’s been amazing. I feel lucky.”
She also spoke about how her prior work in comedy, including stand-up, got her to the point where she is now with Abbott Elementary and The Final Straw.
“I did not know that I could do Abbott Elementary until I auditioned,” she said. “Like…I didn’t know. I did know that I read the script and it was really good and I wanted to try. And then I tried and then I got it and I was like, ‘Oh, well…OK. I guess I’m going to try acting.’ Then I tried it. I knew I did well, [but] I didn’t know how well I did until I saw it. Then I saw it and I was like, ‘Oh, I killed that.’ [laughs] I feel like stand-up prepped me for performing, but I don’t know– I truly have just been doing, you know what I mean? So just to be in the company of Quinta [Brunson] and Sheryl Lee Ralph and Tyler [James Williams], I’m a person I’m just like, ‘I’m not going to embarrass myself. I’m going to rise to the level of the people around me.’ And yeah, and I did that [laughs]. And from that, I got this new opportunity, which almost takes me back to my stand-up talents where it’s about me and my brand and the kind of humor that I want to do. And so that’s been amazing and I get to give away ABC’s money at the same time. So that’s always cool.”
And her pitch for folks to tune into The Final Straw? Her, obviously.
“I mean, you’re looking at her! [laughs] And then also, it just has all the feeling within one show. It’s very tense in that these things that we’ve built, which we’re calling stacks, they’re huge. Then the object of the game is to not make them fall over, but they do. When things that are huge fall over, people want to watch it. I knew that, but then also being on set and then seeing everything, everybody, [thew] crew, catering, PAs come to a standstill when that thing was about to fall over, I was like ‘Oh, people are going to be glued to the TV to not only watch it fall, but to watch it fall in slow-mo, [and] to see me running and screaming like a maniac so I don’t get hit with it. And also seeing the elation and disappointment from the teams of who won and lost. It’s very tense. But then I’m here with the smart-aleck-y comments and the comedy. It has everything.”
Watch the interview below: