Funny Lady Jenn Harris: My Interview
She dazzles as Clarice in Silence!: The Musical, she startled as the Wicked Witch at Night of 1000 Judys, and she costars in a new movie called Gayby (below).
Photo by Allison Michael Orenstien
And she was all mine for a tell-all Q&A in which I got to know what makes Jenn Harris really tick.
Hi, Jenn. Let's start with Silence.... What/whom are you channeling as Clarice? How much of it is inspired by Jodie herself?
I came at this part by watching the movie over and over and letting Jodie Foster's performance in the film sink in. I'm not "doing" Jodie Foster or making fun of her, her life, or even her performance. For me, parody is full on full out DOING what you are seeing and hearing 100% and letting the words, props, costume, lighting, direction make it funny. Of course, you are not that person so just attempting to be/become that person should play funny in itself.
We have this moment when Clarice is in the storage unit, and she comes across a few things that scare her. One is a poster from Jodie's film The Beaver. Perfect fodder for so many things I could comment on in that moment, but it serves the play and that moment so much more if I just go "AHH!" and let the audience come up with their own ideas of how ridiculous it is and then just move right along with me. Audiences are not stupid. I don't need to tell them about how I feel about the funny...they know ;)
Tell me a little about Gayby and the part you play in that film.
Gayby is an irreverent comedy about friendship, growing older, sex, loneliness, and the family you chose. I just took that from our Facebook page ;) It's the story of Matt and Jenn--2 best friends from college who decide to have a baby together the old fashioned way. For me, Gayby is completely a film about the family you choose. There is a LOT of heart in this film that is so crazy and fast and written just so so well by Jonathan Lisecki. Matt and I are actually best friends from college, and it was nothing short of a dream to get to shoot my first lead role in a feature film with ALL my best friends from New York. Just....when do you get to do that?
Never! What's the craziest part you've ever played?
The cat in my company QWAN's performance of Notes On A Scandal, which we call NOTES! I play Dame Judi Dench's cat. Ugh, so fun! We are actually taking both NOTES! and SWAN!!! to The Berkshire Theatre Festival on August 20th as a double bill one night show.
What are your ultimate career ambitions? Has the business limited you or welcome you?
I feel like the business has welcomed me in ways that I never expected it would. All the parts that I go out for and are same ole same old, I never get. So sometimes I feel un welcomed in garden variety land. And there is NOTHING wrong with garden variety land, let me just say that. Lotta art in the garden. But I find when I create my own work like QWAN company shows, Our Hit Parade, and get the opportunity originate characters like in Modern Orthodox, Silence!, Gayby, and these fun supporting characters in film and television (I just shot three weeks on a film called Better Living Through Chemistry and had a blast), I'm embraced with open arms. I'm free. I'm not questioning or judging myself....so no one else does.
But I can't die before I get to act in a horror film...can't...need to! So bring on the films, yes please. I'd also love to originate a character on a television show for HBO, FX, Showtime...something new and bold and original, and controversial would help. If I am a co-creator on that show, all the better. And right now...like right right now, I kinda need to be on True Blood. SOOOOO many day dreams of being on that show!