Jenny McCarthy wants to keep things light. Before this interview, two publicists caution against bringing up her controversial comments speculating on the links between childhood vaccines and autism. (Note to readers: See Internet for details.)
Later, during a phone chat, the usually loquacious McCarthy gets a little tight-lipped when asked about the strong reactions she has drawn since joining the cast of ABC’s “The View” in September.
“I’ve gone in a new direction,” says McCarthy, who will host “Dirty Sexy Funny” 8 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. “I’m amazed that people keep bringing up things I haven’t talked about in years, and I’ll leave it at that.”
That new direction includes McCarthy’s current showcase for female comics that debuted as a special in February on Epix. The developing franchise has morphed into a national tour featuring stand-ups Paula Bel, Tiffany Haddish, Lynne Koplitz, Justine Marino and Tammy Pescatelli.
Ahead of her A.C. appearance, McCarthy talks about taking her comedy show on the road, what she’s learned from her “View” boss Barbara Walters and how her latest self-help book offers another chance to “reveal all.”
Q: What got you into producing stand-up comedy?
A: I was sitting there one day watching a comedy show with my girlfriends. I laughed at one comic and then went to another comedy show another weekend and only laughed at one comic.
I said, “I wonder if I picked out a handful of female comedians and branded them under one night, how funny that would be?” I spent almost two-and-a-half years going to comedy club to comedy club across the country and found a group of women who fit under this brand.
I didn’t know what to call them because they were kind of dirty, they were kind of raw, they were real, they were sexy, they were also really funny. I couldn’t be happier with how they came together.
Q: What’s it like for you to hit the road?
A: This is absolutely a new experience. I’m not a stand-up, nor do I want to do it. I really wanted do it out of a love for it. I love to create businesses, and I also love to empower chicks. I feel like by giving them this platform, I can raise attention and give them more media than they’re used to.
I eventually want to turn (this) into a docu-series on TV and maybe some radio. I feel like this is going to be a really great launching pad for a lot of women who have been working hard.
Q: As the rookie this season on “The View,” how have you adjusted to the format?
A: I took the first few months to get used to people’s personalities, people’s points of view, their timing, and by the time I came back from Christmas break, I was like, “OK, I’ve kind of got it down now.” I’m coming into my own and now having the best time. There’s room for me to speak.
But the best part of this year has been watching Barbara (Walters) and learning from her. I’ve been asking her a lot of questions. I’m trying to beat her to the punch with certain questions. We’ll write out our questions. When mine match hers, I couldn’t be more excited.
She wants you to do good by testing you. She will definitely bust your chops and see if you will back down from something that you believe in.
Q: You’ve doled out a lot of advice in a series of best-selling books. What inspired your latest, “Stirring the Pot: My Recipe for Getting What You Want Out of Life” (Ballantine Books).
A: I wanted to do a knockoff of a cookbook. I had these ingredients of things it might take to create perfect opportunities in your life, or the ingredients it takes to conquer fear, or the ingredients it takes to get over relationships.
I think you learn best through storytelling, and especially since I’m willing to reveal all the bruises and bumps I’ve had along the way. This one by far is the lightest, but it’s definitely the most inspirational.
Q: Does your openness come naturally?
A: I think I’ve always been like that. I recall in my flashbacks in my head I can see my mom putting her hand over my face, even in kindergarten when I said things out loud. I always felt if I’m honest with everyone about my feelings, I have nothing to hide.
People say it might be nice to hold things privately. I’m sure there are some things, but from the parts people can learn from, why wouldn’t I share it?