“The first thing people say is ‘oh my God, I want to watch TV with you!’ No, you actually don’t! I’m awful,” Jones told IndieWire. “My assistant laughs at me all the time because I’m awful! I have to pause it at least ten times during the first ten minutes of the show, just to think about what’s going on or fuss. It’s awful. It takes me two and a half hours to watch an episode of ‘Game of Thrones.’ So no, you don’t want to do that!”
Jones, who earned an Emmy nomination last year for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy, has become a hype machine for several series and big events. She famously was sent to the 2016 Summer Olympics (and again, to the 2018 Winter Olympics) by NBC after her Tweets about the Games went viral. More recently, besides “Game of Thrones” and “Drag Race,” she has also been a strong proponent for the Peacock network drama “Timeless.”
NBC hasn’t yet announced the fate of “Timeless,” but Jones warns that she will protest around the network’s offices in the nude if the time-traveling series isn’t back for a third season.
“Let me tell you something. [NBC Entertainment chairman Bob] Greenblatt don’t want me up in his office naked,” she said. “Rockefeller Center don’t want me running around there with no clothes on. But I will do it. Understand me?”
In a wide-ranging interview with IndieWire, Jones discussed her favorite — and least favorite — moments from this season of “SNL,” and how the show found it difficult to strike the right tone on covering Donald Trump. She also shared her long-term ambitions with the show and her desire to pursue more stand-up comedy, the role of entertainment as a release valve for Americans, and the campaign she’d like to launch to change the accepted attire at the Emmy ceremony.
On becoming obsessed with “RuPaul’s Drag Race”: “It was an accident. Late at night I was flipping through the channels and saw a rerun on VH1 from Season 10. I didn’t know RuPaul’s format was like that. It’s like ‘Project Runway’ and ‘America’s Next Top Model’ for drag queens! I was like, oh snap! They’ve gotta lip sync for their life? Oh hell naw, this is the bomb!
“So I went and started looking for the other seasons. I found Season 8, the one where Bob the drag queen won. Oh my God, Season 8 was off… the… chain!! Now I’m just going to watch all of them. Right now I’m on Season 5.”
On how she became a “Game of Thrones” live tweeter: “This is so honest, the ‘Game of Thrones’ live Tweeting happened because I didn’t have anybody to watch ‘Game of Thrones’ with. And I was like, this show is too fucking good for me to not be talking to somebody about this show. And I didn’t even know there was such a thing as live-tweeting. So I just started recording me watching the show, and people went, ‘She’s live-tweeting!’ Oh, that’s a thing! It really started out with that.”
On how she chooses a show to binge: “When I start watching a show, if it gives me joy — like, TV gives me joy in a way that’s crazy. Like, RuPaul gives me joy. When he cracks a joke or says the right thing, that shit makes me giggle on the inside when I’m watching a really good show. ‘World of Dance,’ and J-Lo jumps up because somebody does something dope, that’s joy. I get joy at watching a lot of stuff like that. So whenever I feel that way, that’s when the live-tweeting is going to be so off the chain.”
On whether her live-tweeting habit can be turned into a TV show: “If that was put into a format it wouldn’t be funny. Because anything I live-tweet is really an instant thing. You can’t box that. When me and Seth [Meyers] do the ‘Game of Thrones’ thing, I’ve already watched the episode. Because there’s no such thing as me sitting fresh and watching it with someone, and it being organized. I’m just not capable. And then it wouldn’t be good, because I come up with my best shit by myself and later. I might pause it and go use the bathroom and be on the toilet and go, ‘oh, that’s what I should say!'”
On TV and comedy as a release: “Our society don’t laugh no more. Because we’re walking around offended, we’re offended by every little fucking thing. Back in the day, we used to be able to make fun of each other, we used to be able to make fun of subjects, make a joke without getting strapped down and thinking you’re a racist or a terrible person. No! I’m making a joke. That is a release. It is very important. That stuff is not happening right now because we’re so up our asses. The world could really take a break and stop being an asshole, because that’s what we are at this point. We’re all being selfish assholes walking around, and not looking out for each other, and not giving a fuck about what’s happening to each other. Everybody is walking around with, ‘What about me? What about me?’ That’s why everything is so fucked up, because no one is making each other laugh.”
On entertainment in dark times: “I understand that there are certain fucked up things going on. But can I ask a question? When hasn’t it ever been that way? I’m 50 years old. I lived through Ronald Reagan. I know white people thought that Ronald Reagan was the shit, but on the black side we called it ‘Reaganomics.’ Our society has been in trouble before. Don’t stop the dancing and the laughing. That’s why you go out to the fucking happy hour. It’s called the fucking happy hour. What they going to sell you? Drinks. So you can fucking be happy!”
On the challenges “SNL” faced post-Trump: “I really do feel that the writers had a really hard job this year. As much as I believe what I believe in comedy and stuff, they do have to write for the masses. Lorne has the hardest job in show business because he has to be like a chef. He has to give them a little bit of this, a dash of this, a dash of that. And the writers have to write about what’s going on but they also have to be funny. They were new writers, and they were getting used to each other, and getting used to what’s happening. Because what’s happening is crazy right now. We’ve got the fucking The Apprentice as our fucking president. And he has turned out to be a spoiled high school fucking jock. The fucking worst!
“Our writers have to deal with that, and it was harder this year because it was not as giggly. I think we were funny, and we did what we needed to do to get what was needed out. But our giggly level wasn’t really very high. I think the year coming up will be different. I think everybody is so wound up you have to get to the point where you’re going to have to let go.”
On her “SNL” experience this year: “I think it was a good year. I got to do a lot more characters, I got to be seen a little bit more. I got to be known for more than just ‘Weekend Update,’ which is something I really wanted to do. [But] I always like when I’m at the ‘Update’ desk — I did one this year where I was singing, and I really enjoyed that.”
On her low point this season, with guest host James Franco in the “Gift Wrap” sketch: “Yeah, I remember it. He spit blood in my mouth. He knew I didn’t like blood and he spit it in my mouth. He just waited for the right moment and did it. And it was awful!”
On her future with “SNL,” and what’s next: “I think I’m definitely going to be with ‘SNL’ for a while, and I’m definitely trying to do more comedy. I’m trying to get my comedy special out. Because that’s what I call myself first and foremost, a comedian. Which is so weird, that’s how I made my bread and butter for so many years, but now I’m known for this. Instead of known as a comic. I’m ready to come out with that so people can know what laughing actually feels like.”
On whether she’d like to do a scripted TV series: “That’s a hard question. Part of me wants to focus on the standup and doing movies. But on a scripted show, I’m always scared that, like when you season meat until it loses its flavor. I don’t want them to take my flavor because of restrictions. I don’t know. If I do anything, I might cameo a lot.”
On the show that stresses her out the most: “‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ I’m always trying to figure out ways that I would get my friends out of here. If I didn’t get killed or sent to the colonies, maybe I might be lucky because I’m Leslie Jones, maybe they might take that into effect. But I’ve been coming up with all kinds of plans, like buying planes or buying some land in Canada so we can escape. Every time I watch that show it stresses me out. It’s too real.”
On her Emmy experience last year: “I was mostly holding my breath through the whole thing. You just want it to be over because it’s so uncomfortable. You’ve got on uncomfortable shoes, an uncomfortable dress. They’re asking you a billion questions and it’s hot, it’s really hot. And I’m older so I get extra hot. And you’re sitting in the audience for three hours. I don’t know if I’m telling the good part.
“Being nominated is definitely awesome, I just wish we could go in tennis shoes and sweatsuits instead. Why do we have to dress up, why is that the tradition? They dress up at the Oscars, why can’t the Emmys be like, ‘Yo, wear your best tracksuit!’ It would be so much more fun. I’m thinking about really doing it. I’m just saying, what would be the worst thing they could do? ‘Oh, Leslie Jones wore a tracksuit to the Emmys!’ and that would be it. Especially if I win, and I go up there and be, ‘Yo, for real.’ I’m going to start campaigning that everybody wears their best tracksuit.”