By Graeme Wiggins
Career arcs look different from outside perspectives. By all appearances, comedian Sam Jay has had an incredible year. She dropped her debut album Donna’s Daughter to much acclaim, she’s written for SNL, and she had a new special for Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup. That’s a lot of success for one year, after years of toiling in the comedy world. But for Sam Jay, this is just the beginning.
“I don’t really quantify things that way, but it feels like the right steps are being made, you know?” she says. “It’s such a long process building a career, and all these things are building blocks to that. It’s a culmination of an entire career. This is great, but it’s not it. It feels like I’m starting, as weird as that sounds. It feels like I’m finally at the beginning. Even Just For Laughs: New Faces wasn’t the beginning – it was the thing that gets you to the beginning, and now it’s like, okay, my career is starting.”
It’s clear that Jay thinks big, and it’s that kind of big thinking that motivates her bold album, a hilarious debut which is centered around her divorce.
“I’m not going to not talk about what I’m going through,” says Jay. “I was in the middle of going through all this stuff with my soon-to-be ex-wife, and it was just hard to not get up there and talk about it.” The album is a well-thought-out introduction to who she is as a comedian. This, too, was a very conscious decision. As she puts it: “I wanted the album to be really honest, and to be a true introduction to an artist. I wanted it to have a ‘90s hip-hop Ready to Die, Illmatic feel where you feel like you’ve spent the day with this person, truly getting to know who they are.”
That consciousness extends to her choice of both well-polished older material and newer, less-refined bits: “I wanted it to be brutally honest and raw in some ways. I wanted some of it to feel unfinished because it was – I was going through it. I wanted you to have that refinement of some of the jokes to be really polished and really on and I wanted some of it to have that looser, ‘Hey, we’re working on stuff’ feel to it, just because I wanted it to be a rounded view of me as an artist.”
It’s a great debut, and if she has her way, it’s only just the beginning.
Catch Sam Jay live for JFL Northwest on February 20 at the Biltmore Cabaret.donna’s daughter, JFL Northwest, Sam Jay