This project was a wrinkle in my brain just two weeks ago. I scribbled the idea into the notes section of my iPhone at 3am after being jolted awake by another Homeland-related stress dream. The note said: "Gibve writers the attentjion they deservf." I was very tired.
But it's true, screenwriters are often eclipsed by what goes on in front of the camera and not given equal recognition with the masses. So here I am, forcing them out of their dark, candy-wrapper-riddled safety caves and bringing them into the forefront.
Instead of dipping my toe into the water slowly, I made a reckless decision to hurl my entire body into the abyss at once and reach out to Jiffy Wild, one of my favorite cast members from the recently wrapped late-night talk show, Chelsea Lately. Not only did he agree to talk to a small potato like me, but he is one of the kindest people currently living on this planet. We exchanged several emails, and within a week I had my first feature. Note: his email responses are like tiny hugs.
You can currently find Jiffy on tour with fellow former Chelsea Lately cast member, Josh Wolf, in a musical comedy show fittingly titled The Wild Wolf Band. The duo will be heading back to television to star in Josh's new late-night show produced by former boss-lady, Chelsea Handler, and will air on CMT in June. Follow @JiffyWild on Twitter and visit thewildwolfband.com for tour dates near you.
Oh, and since selfies will be the death of the human race, I forced him to send me one. Enjoy.
Let's just make it clear to everyone that you and I are perfect strangers, and you were kind enough to agree to pilot this project for me. You're very trusting.
We're strangers, but we're not perfect.
Speak for yourself, I'm flawless. Please state your name for the jury.
Jeff Wild, but some people call me "Jiffy".
Where did the nickname come from? I'm sure I could Google it, but that's not responsible journalism.
I actually don't think Google has the answer, so I'll give you one. At the beginning of Chelsea Lately, Chelsea [Handler] just started calling me "Jiffy", and it stuck. Pretty awesome story, right? Nicknames are usually the worst, but if the person who's paying you gives you one, then you just take it.
It could always be worse. My mom gave me the nickname "Lucy" when I was very little. A few years ago I found out it was short for "Lucifer". Let's start small. Where are you from?
Originally Tucson, Arizona, but I've been living in Los Angeles for about 15 years.
What were you like in high school?
I was a good soccer player. I was nice to people. I played guitar. I had an amazing girlfriend that I was crazy about. I had offers to play soccer in college, but I hated it by the time I graduated. I just wanted to make stupid movies, play guitar, move to Los Angeles, and then write songs about how much I missed my girlfriend that I left back in Arizona. We eventually got back together, and then got married. Jiffy for the win.
Now that we're best friends, tell me what motivated you to become a comedy writer.
I don't think I was ever motivated by one thing. I think if you're a comedy writer, it's something inside of you whether you're actually doing it or not. Does that makes sense? Like, some comedians are innately better at it, and some work harder at it. But at the core, if you're a writer, then you've always been one and always will be. Even if writing comedy isn't what you do for a living, it'll eventually find you, and you'll just do it. That makes no sense. Next question.
It makes perfect sense, and you're one of the few lucky people who found a way to make it happen professionally. You're most well known for your work on E!'s late night talk show, Chelsea Lately, and semi-scripted comedy show, After Lately. Tell me about how you landed the job.
When I started working on Chelsea Lately, I was the art department guy. I was making props and building sets, but I got to know Chelsea [Handler] pretty well from being on set every day. And she would invite me out to drinks and to parties, and I think I made her laugh. She liked me, so she started putting me on the show, both in sketches and on the round table. I was totally out of place on the round table. You know, I was sitting next to professional and amazing comedians, and they were like "Who the fuck is this guy?" Eventually they moved me to the Writer's Assistant position, and then to Writer and Producer. It was a long, strange journey that I'm totally grateful for.
Was it intimidating getting started in the industry?
Yes, but I think the excitement drowns out any intimidation that would make you want to stop.
You write and perform. Which do you prefer?
I love performing right now. Touring and doing stand-up has been a lot of fun, but I think long-term I'd prefer to be a writer. One who's at home every night with his family.
After Lately fascinates me on so many levels. It's a mockumentary loosely based on what goes on behind the scenes of Chelsea Lately. How scripted is it?
I'd say 80% of the storylines were based on real things that happened. The stories morphed as they got ready for television, but at the core it was all reality. And some of my favorite real moments and stories never even made it to air.
You're portrayed as the quiet, reasonable one. Is that true off-camera?
Totally. Ha. I don't know, most of time I'm quiet and reasonable, but I've blown my lid from time to time.
You and Chelsea shared a bathtub scene. Tell me about that.
That was...strange. We shot the same day as my son's third birthday party. So I went from hosting 20 toddlers and parents, and then ran right over to Chelsea's house. We shot that in her actual bath tub. And they made me wear this tiny nude cod piece thing that covered nothing. It was pretty embarrassing. She got to wear a one piece.
I won't reveal my sources, but I've heard Chelsea is a wonderful and generous person despite her efforts to portray herself as the salty, couldn't-care-less type. What's your perspective?
You have good sources! She is by far and away the most generous person I have ever met. Like, overly so. To a fault. Sometimes she makes you dizzy with gratitude. She's kind of the opposite of most Hollywood types; A lot of celebrities seem to be super nice on-camera but are assholes in real life. She comes across as kind of bitchy on-air, but is the nicest person when the cameras are off.
Anything else we should know about Chelsea? This is a safe zone, she's definitely not reading a blog.
What you see is what you get with Chelsea.
Chelsea Lately aired its final episode in August of last year. Was it difficult to move on after such a long, successful run?
Difficult? No. Kind of sad? Sure. I don't know. It felt like graduating from high school again. I made all these awesome friends, and we all swore to "see each other all the time" and remain close, but that's just not the reality of life. So, it made me sad knowing that I'd be missing a lot of great and talented people, but I was, and still am, insanely excited to start this new chapter. I took my son to see the new Night at the Museum movie, and I know it's a dumb movie to quote, but there's a scene where Ben Stiller is kind of worried and sad and says, "I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow...", and Robin Williams says, "Isn't that exciting!?". That speaks to me right now.
You're currently touring and doing comedy shows with Josh Wolf, another former writer and cast member on Chelsea. There's music involved. How did this concept come to life?
A few years ago, Josh and Chris Franjola really encouraged me to start doing stand up. I had never really considered it, but it kind of made sense at the time. Stand up kind of found me. I started featuring for Josh on his tour dates, and I brought my guitar because it felt safer. I was in bands my whole life, so performing for people with my guitar was more comfortable for me at first. And eventually, Josh started inviting me on stage during his sets, and we'd write and play stupid songs...and the audience loved it.
Who's the better singer?
Stand up can be a tough gig. What keeps you from losing momentum?
I lose momentum all the time. Every weekend of shows I go from "I hate this, I suck, I'm done." to "That was the best set ever! I love this!". I'm taking it show by show right now.
Any strange experiences while on the road with Josh?
Every weekend something strange happens. Usually involving a weird fan, and Josh and I looking at each other like "what the f---".
Do your wives ever become jealous of your beautiful bromance?
I think they like us on the road together. We're both family guys and not really partiers. We just write a lot when we're on the road. And sleep a lot. That's what my wife is most jealous of; My quiet, dark hotel rooms.
Speaking of you and your wife, you are parents to two adorable kids. Are they funny?
I think they're hilarious. I'm sure every parent says that about their kids, but a lot of my act right now is based off conversations I have with my kids. Like, out of the blue, my son asked me, "How do girls pee?" like he'd been thinking about it for a while. And he genuinely wanted to know the answer. I mean, kids are just so weird and naive, they're bound to say funny shit.
My son is about to celebrate his first birthday. Any parenting advice you can give me?
It gets better.
Let's end with a series of questions a five year old would ask:
What's your favorite noise? My kids screaming "DAD!" when I walk in the door.
Who's your best friend? My wife, Ali.
Are you mad at me? Fuming.
Which super hero is the stupidest? Batman is super rich, he should really just relax and enjoy his money.
How many dogs do you have? One bat-shit crazy mutt.
Do you like food? Only when I'm hungry.