Perhaps most recognizable from her role as the narrator of the popular documentary Meet the Mormons, Jenna Kim Jones is a stand-up comedian with her own podcast, #SorryNotSorry with Jenna Kim Jones. We recently chatted with her about life as a Mormon entertainer.
What role has your faith played in your career?
I’m a clean comedian because that’s really who I am. I don’t swear or tell jokes that would make me feel uncomfortable because I promise you, it wouldn’t be funny if I did. My faith impacts the way I view the world and I’m grateful because I believe it’s helped me make decisions that have led to real and lasting happiness.
What’s the hardest part of doing comedy as a member of the Church?
I get so many questions about my faith. Answering those questions at a comedy show isn’t always the ideal setting, so it’s hard to figure out a balance of what to share at the right time and place. I also try not to book shows on Sunday and so far have found success sticking to that. While it does eliminate a lot of potential work opportunities, I’ve found that it’s the best decision for me.
What is your dream place to perform?
I’ve performed and recorded a comedy special in Utah and Hollywood and will be recording a third special in Atlanta this summer. So someday, I would love to record another special in New York City. I started stand-up in that amazing place, so to take my act back to where it all began after years of performing would be pretty fantastic.
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What was your favorite experience from The Daily Show?
Well, Justin Bieber did call me “Jenna Benna” once backstage at the show, so that was pretty exciting. Every single day at The Daily Show was different, and that was my favorite part of the job. I was constantly learning about myself, my faith, and my career. I loved surrounding myself with such a diverse group of people.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
A few minutes before I perform, I always sneak away for a prayer followed by a handful of Skittles. Both are essential!
Where is the best place to find comedic inspiration?
Life is really funny. It’s really hard and exhausting, but it’s also really funny. I am constantly looking around for new ideas and taking notes on what I observe. I have a note in my phone called “New Jokes,” and I’m always adding to it. Sometimes I wake up in the night with a “genius” idea and can’t type it fast enough. Of course, in the morning those ideas are always pure nonsense. You can’t trust your sense of humor after midnight.
What’s the most unusual show you've ever performed?
I’ve performed for so many different people. Dentists, accountants, engineers, kids, adults. I’ve even had a few babies in the audience before. Let me be clear, babies are very cute, but they’re a terrible audience. I can only play peek-a-boo on stage so long before I lose their interest (ok that might be my cheesiest joke ever). I’ve been heckled, I’ve been booed, and I’ve been given standing ovations. I once ripped a pair of jeans on stage doing a cartwheel (I no longer do cartwheels on stage). In my earlier career, I did a show with three people in the audience, and two of them didn’t speak English. I got a few laughs, but everybody laughs when they’re that uncomfortable (and that wasn’t even my ripped jeans show!).
What is the cheesiest joke you like to tell?
I believe there are actually six love languages: Receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, and Nacho Cheese Doritos.
How did working on Meet the Mormons affect your life?
I think being part of Meet the Mormonsjust reinforced my belief that, while we don’t know exactly what Heavenly Father’s plan is for us, we should live our lives ready to take on whatever opportunities He sends our way. When I was approached to be in Meet the Mormons, I had no idea it would end up in movie theaters across the nation. I was part of something bigger than I could have ever imagined. Something I was really proud of! And most of all, I loved sharing it with my friends and colleagues of all backgrounds and faiths.
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What is your favorite part of being a wife?
I love being alone, but after I met my husband my definition of being alone changed. When I say I like being alone now, I mean, being alone, with him. Spending time with my husband is my favorite thing, and because we’re married, he has to hang out with me a lot! It’s the best.
What advice do you have for Mormons pursuing comedy?
Something I always try to remind myself is that comedy takes a lot of consistent work. I have to write, practice, and perform in order to keep my comedy muscle strong. It’s much like my testimony. When I neglect it, it becomes weaker. So work hard on all of it!
What do you want to be remembered for?
I mean, I would love to be remembered as someone who made people laugh. That is literally what I try to do on a regular basis. But on a more serious note, I hope that I will be a good mom to my children. I have two daughters. Before I had them, I was very nervous about being a parent, and now that I have them, I love them so much. I want them to have the world, and I hope so badly that I will be able to help them find joy in life.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Years ago, my mom looked at me when I asked her if it was crazy that I wanted to perform stand-up comedy and replied, “Why not you?” I’ll never forget it.
Does your husband think you’re as funny as everyone else does?
Whenever someone asks my husband what it’s like to be married to a comedian, his answer is always the same: “It’s not as funny as you’d think.” Clearly, he has a great sense of humor. (He had better be joking!) He has no problem with me talking about our married life on stage; it takes a special person to be okay with that.