Q&A: Comedian Jeremy Lawson talks sitcom humour (and playing Jesus)

Ticketmaster’s funny man Ben Keenan meets comic and rising sitcom star, Jeremy Lawson.

How are we? Are we well? Did we have a nice Easter? I did thanks! Actually I had an amazing Easter as I got myself an exclusive interview with the big man himself; the one, the holy; Jesus! Before you accuse me of blasphemy, or smoking something, let me clarify. I sat down with Hollywood newcomer and all round cool as sh*t comic actor, Jeremy Lawson, who plays Jesus in a hilarious new sitcom.

Jeremy Lawson

Jeremy plays a wise cracking Texan Jesus in America’s newest hit sitcom, The Real O’Neals on ABC. The O’Neals are your typical middle class American-Irish catholic family. Complete with hidden secrets and a healthy dose of dysfunction. One by one the family members each reveal a hidden secret about themselves. The parents are divorcing and the older brother is anorexic, but it’s the revelation that Kenny drops that really brings this show together… Kenny is. Wait for it.. GAY! Argggggh. So what, right?

But this is the Deep South after all and though they’ve had Will & Grace and Six Feet Under this remains a first for a prime time show to conquer the conversation of homosexuality, let alone from an adolescent point of view. Okay so Glee touches on it but not like this. Also South Park had Jesus as a recurring character but that was on a small network and a much smaller target audience. So was mainstream America ready to take a good look at these issues? Well I’ll let Jeremy field this one…

Jeremy, how’s it hanging?

“Everything’s top notch at the moment, Ben.  All good.”

Tell me what it’s like to play a wise-cracking Jesus?

“The great thing about the role, and about the show altogether is that the writing is stellar, truly funny.  So getting to put on the robes and deliver some sweet one-liners has been really fun.”

This is your first sitcom on a huge network. Has the enormity of that affected you in any way?

“I think the build-up is the most exciting and stressful time. Around this time last year, they were finishing up the pilot and just to be cast in that was incredible. Then you’re waiting for the news about whether the show is picked up, and when it was, it was super exciting. Then you have to wait to see if your character will be brought back or if it was a one-time deal. Then you get the call to do a few more episodes and you’re over the moon about that.

“There’s a lot of ups and downs with the emotions of the thing. So far for me, not much has changed. I haven’t had to evade any paparazzi just yet. Although I do get asked to turn water into wine a bit more frequently… Maybe that’s more about the people I surround myself with.”

Have you had any strong reactions about your character, positive or negative?

“Initially, it was more reaction to the show than anything else which is crazy because the show hadn’t aired and there were petitions to the network and articles popping up on the Internet from conservative Christian groups who were protesting something they hadn’t even seen. Overall, the show has been very well received and that’s indicative of the quality of the project.”

You’ve taken on the role of Jesus who is the sub conscious of a young Chicago lad struggling with his sexuality, right?

“Yeah, so the main character is Kenny, who is a teenager who has just came out to his parents, causing a string of revelations that the O’Neals are far from the ‘perfect’ Irish Catholic family. I pop up from time to time to offer some Jesus-ly advice to Kenny, maybe help him think about things in a different way…”

So we’ve been waiting for the second coming, and lo and behold it’s come, but it’s Jesus in a sitcom.  Not quite the Rapture we were expecting…

“Come on, Ben.  Jesus has been here all along, you know that.”

The Real O’Neals hasn’t been confirmed for a UK airing just yet but fingers crossed!

Be sure to follow Ben at @itsbenk for more of the same and to find out about all his upcoming gigs.