Name to know: Jamie J Advertisement

Name to know: Jamie J

Johnny Lever’s daughter can make you laugh – just don’t ask her to tell you a joke

By Ayushi Thapliyal  March 6th, 2014

The four words that terrify Jamie J? “Tell me a joke.” More so if they come right after you find out her father is comedy legend Johnny Lever. “There’s a lot of pressure. And when I do happen to say something funny, [they say] ‘Didn’t I tell you? It’s because she’s Johnny Lever’s daughter.’” It’s a double-edged kind of compliment, she says, because while her style borrows from his – her act involves a good bit of mimicry and slapstick – her material is more observational and conversational. The unexpected musical element is another distinct feature of the trained classical singer’s act.

Her career in stand-up comedy began with a short sketch on the London stage in 2012. Until then, she’d been holding down a “painful” market research job after completing her post-graduation, another fairly painful enterprise for the 25-year-old who had known she wanted a career in the performing arts since her early student days in Mumbai. “When my father came to London on his tour, I told him that comedy was something I really wanted to do. He gave me a 10-minute slot.” It wasn’t quite that easy; he made her audition like any other aspiring comedian – “He did not want to let someone mediocre perform” – and helped her fine-tune her material for a while before finally giving her the go-ahead. She managed to get a standing ovation.

Since she returned to India, she’s participated in TV shows like Comedy Circus and performed at the Comedy Store in Mumbai. She played Patty Simcox in Raell Padamsee’s Grease in January (her first musical was a UK production called Rehab). Ten years from now, she hopes to be headlining a cross between Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres’ shows – The Jamie Show. “I’ve always wanted to do a show in which I can do everything; sing, act, dance, travel all around.”