Whitney Cummings couldn't find any funny roles -- so she wrote one instead

Whitney Cummings couldn't find any funny roles -- so she wrote one instead
Whitney Cummings, the writer, star, and producer of the new sitcom Whitney, speaks to reporters during the unveiling of CTV's fall lineup in Toronto Thursday, June 2, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
by: Tyrone Warner

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Speaking to reporters at CTV’s fall preview earlier this summer, “Whitney” star Whitney Cummings explains how her new series came to be.

As a seasoned standup comic at the age of 28, Cummings toured extensively and is known best for her appearances on “Chelsea Lately.”

Her series, “Whitney” is based upon her own life and experiences and wrestles with the idea of monogamy and “relationship boredom.” Chris D’Elia co-stars as her on-screen boyfriend, Alex Green.

Besides starring in “Whitney,” Cummings is credited as creator, executive producer and writer of the series. When asked why she’s taking on so many roles, Cummings explained that she felt like she didn’t have any choice.

“I feel like as an actress and comedian for so long that there just weren’t enough roles on TV that were funny that I wanted to ever do, so I was like, ‘I’m going to have to write one for myself,’ and I did and I think it worked out pretty well,” said Cummings.

When fielding another question about how her risqué sense of humour will mesh with her primetime slot, Cummings explained that it seems like networks are looking for edgier fare to compete with cable.

“I’m helping with that.”

But the bigger picture, according to Cummings, is that the edginess of her material is meant to mimic reality.

“I think for me… there’s nothing on television that really reflects my generation’s experience in terms of what we’re going through -- dating wise and with sex and stuff like that -- and they were really supportive in sort of letting me do what I want to do,” said Cummings.

“I’m not trying to be too edgy, for the sake of being edgy. You know, certainly things that I do like my specials… the idea is to be as edgy as possible, and I wanted this to be a little more relatable and real without just trying to be shocking for the sake of being shocking.”

In the premiere episode of “Whitney,” Cummings is put in an extremely awkward situation involving a sexy nurse uniform and a trip to the emergency room. However, Cummings said she handles those kind of on-screen situations with ease.

“I have no capacity for embarrassment. I actually think that’s a good thing when you’re a comedian. To me, comedy is about honesty… that’s where I think I thrive in terms of what we really go through, all the things that people really do but are afraid to share, all the things that people think but you can’t say because it’s taboo.”

One of the ways Cummings was looking to inject a little of her own reality into the series, was ensuring that she showed what normal life looked like onscreen.

“It was really important to me that that little opening montage showed the couple and what we really do and that it’s not always sexy and pretty,” said Cummings.

“Something that I’ve always found frustrating -- especially in multi-camera sitcoms which my show is with the live studio audience -- is a lot of it feels fake, a lot of the characters work at a coffee shop and they have no money but they live in this gorgeous brownstone and wear these amazing Prada clothes and to me it’s just not realistic.”

When the conversation turned to her co-star, D’Elia, Cummings couldn’t help but gush with praise.

“We’re in love. He’s the best, right? Chris is actually a really interesting story. Chris, who plays my boyfriend, is absolutely going to be the biggest comedian ever. He’s a young comedian from L.A. who I starred with at The Comedy Store and he’s a phenomenal stand-up comedian, and we’ve actually been really good friends for about five years, and I wrote (this role) with him in mind -- because he’s the funniest and most talented person I know. We adore each other -- and I’m like, ‘If I’m going to work (for) 10 years with someone I want it to be him.’ So I wrote it with him in mind, he came in and auditioned, he got it.”

Cummings continued:

“Chris interests me a lot because I think he’s a man, and a lot of guys on TV seem like actors -- sort of seem like ‘actory’ actors. And I don’t think there are a lot of men on TV men can look to and say, ‘Oh, I like that guy. I want to hang out with that guy. He looks like someone I could be friends with.’ He’s scruffy, he has facial hair, he’s like a dude.”

“I think a lot of people have been like, ‘You don’t see a guy like that on TV a lot,’ and I think it’s true, and I think it was really important to me that the show didn’t feel like an emasculating woman who yells at her husband and treats him terribly… I think there’s a lot of relationships on TV where the husbands are scared of the wives, and the wives are super awful and treat them terribly and never want sex and walk all over them and boss them around, and that has never been my experience.  I think that that feels fake to me. So I really wanted a guy that actually felt like a man and in control, and also exceptionally funny.”

“Whitney” premieres this September.


About TyroneTyrone Warner has been with CTV.ca since 2005, covering news, entertainment and everything related to CTV. When he’s away from the computer, you can find him writing, recording and performing his own music, running his own record label and dabbling in photography, painting and creative collage. Follow him on Twitter!



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