Meet Sloppy Jones co-creators as they spill the tea on collaborating as a threesome, overcoming challenges and keeping the dream alive. From choosing to have all-female mentorship, to bringing queer comedy to the mainstream, to exploring their own life experiences, they dish it all.
Sloppy Jones is a dark comedy series that follows a group of queer twenty-somethings working at a dive bar, dealing with the stresses of everyday life like paying rent, annoying customers, and who to hook-up with next. The norm gets rudely interrupted when their low-life boss Frank goes missing. Now enter his melodramatic cougar ex-wife Deb to solve the case and save the Sloppy Jones Grill. With everyone a suspect and no one safe, that’s where we start off the series.
Meet the Creators of Sloppy Jones
Jamie Hart is an actor, writer, creator. Passionate about feminist and LGBT representation and escapism through writing, she believes that everyone deserves to see themselves in all film, literary, or television genres.
As a seasoned bartender, she comes into this project armed with a library of authentic comedic moments and experiences to inform her writing.
Jamie is starring in the role of Harper Shelly.
Theatre vet, Jonathan MacDonald began acting at 8 years old. From small-town Nova Scotia beginnings, he’s now studied and worked professionally, both writing and performing, in New York, Montreal, California, and now Toronto.
Jonathan also comes with fine-dining restaurant experience and is “over the moon” to be involved in this project and to continue telling diverse entertaining relevant stories.
Jonathan’s starring in the role of Thomas Collins
Sophie Nation is a Toronto based writer, director, and actor. She is passionate about exploring new narratives and LGBTQ, Mental health and feminist representation.
She started acting and creating short films at an early age. She studied theatre in university and has performed in NYC, Montreal and Toronto. She has worked as a server in several restaurants over the last few years.
Sophie’s starring in the role of Rory Woods.
Q & A with the Creators of Sloppy Jones
We caught up with the trio to chat about the ups and downs of creating a web series and how they have managed to stay friends first throughout the process.
What inspired the storyline of Sloppy Jones? Were there any shows you took inspiration from?
As for the murder itself—we’ve talked this over so much it’s hard to keep it straight—I think it actually started as a joke. Somebody was like “Frank is dead. LOL” and then we were like “well why not? Why wouldn’t he be dead? Let’s just kill him. Let’s just kill a man.” You know, typical millennial chatter.
Sophie: Our lived experiences were the starting point, but then we really took what inspired us and excited us and went with it. We really wanted to create this chaotic and dreamy world with tons of absurd moments and the people also happen to be queer. Their queerness is not what causes their struggles and is actually just normalized. I worked at a restaurant with a lot of queer staff and it was such an awesome, inclusive space. A bunch of those people are still some of my closest friends and its actually how I met Jeigh Madjus, who plays Antoni. Another big inspiration was the aesthetic of The True Love Café in Toronto at Sherbourne and Dundas. It’s closed down now sadly, but we started writing the show imagining it took place there. There’s so much going on there and it really has a unique, but sad story behind it. I read actual Yelp reviews to get a sense of this kitschy rundown place with endless quirks and stories. Our inspiration is constantly shifting and where the story started is not where it is now which is really cool.
I think when you’re working at a restaurant, it can kind of feel like you are removed from the real world. You are there for long hours and your co-workers really become like a dysfunctional family with all sorts of dynamic and relationships and drama. We felt that if the place was sort of wacky and out of this time period, that feeling of closeness would be even more heightened. Pinterest was also a huge source of inspiration. We started Pinterest boards immediately. Shows like Twin Peaks and campy horror movies like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer inspired us a lot. 80’s dive bars. The bright neon and the dilapidated, dreamy vibes.
Jonathan: The story definitely evolved over time. We at first were looking to make a fairly accurate but heightened and funny portrayal of working at a restaurant as a twenty-something with a bad boss struggling to pay rent. A bit of Vanderpump Rules, Schitt’s Creek and The Office. We worked on the creative and tone with our amazing mentor Amanda Walsh who had worked on Schitt’s Creek and with Judy Croon from Second City on comedy. It evolved into a story about the lives of the characters. We became totally enamored by cougar Deborah and her relationship with Frank who had gone missing. We did workshops with Jill Golick on creating unique characters with strengths, flaws and goals. She helped us shape their dynamic and that inform quite a bit of the murder storyline. No spoilers, I promise.
Had any of you written a comedy before? If not, how did you prepare?
Jonathan: I studied at the Groundlings and Second City when I was living in LA. I think that really helped create a basis of language for me, and structure. And to not be so precious with ideas.
Jamie: I have written a comedy before. It was a play called Clue (based on the board game) that I wrote with my friend Emily Cullen when we were running the theatre company at our high school. Not to brag, but it was pretty great for a first try. Other than that my genre is definitely fantasy. I wrote a web series called Spell Bent and filmed the pilot in 2018 (Sophie is in it).
We had Judy Croon from Second City come in and work on our script with us—she just filled it with comedic buttons. It was great. She had us do stand-up comedy exercises while we were getting the hang of it. She’s lovely by the way. She’s so patient and encouraging.
Sophie: My sister and I wrote and performed in comedy short films all through school. I did some courses and summer camps at Second City in Toronto. Then Jonathan and I were writing a comedy web series in university actually! We never ended up shooting it because we both had other things going on and also school was a lot. Other than that, much of my writing has been quite dark and moody, but I also love comedy and improv.
Amanda Walsh understands comedy and was really helpful talking tone and characters and plots. Then Judy Croon unleashed the standup comic in each of us. It was an interesting realization for us that our mundane honest experiences and thoughts blown up could be what worked like in The Office, which I love. It helped us get in touch with each character and specify the type of comedy we liked and voices.
Name your favourite moment and most challenging moment so far that you faced with Sloppy Jones?
Sophie: My favorite moment was the entire day on set. It was surreal seeing what we had written come to life. It was so cool to see what each actor brought to the character that we hadn’t even thought of. Jeigh had literally made his own sweater by sewing ostrich feathers to it, because he felt Antoni needed it. It made the character pop so much and was an iconic detail. Watching Linda Kash act was also insane. She is so incredible. I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing Deb. She scared the shit out of me in her ending monologue (which was the point of it).
Jonathan: My favourite moment is also my most challenging. It was the process of fledging out the world and seeing the characters and relationships develop in our scripts. It was really fun for me to see a clearer and clearer picture as we continued working. This was also the most challenging. It requires a lot of rewrites and edits, and ‘killing the kittens’. This writing process is pretty all-encompassing and enduring, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Those two ideas, for me, tend to go hand in hand.
Jamie: My favourite moment was definitely watching Linda Kash absolutely slay her closing monologue in the two-minute sizzle. She’s incredible. Linda leaned into the three of us right before the first take and whispered, “what do you want from this? Is she controlled? Is she crazy?” The first time Linda screamed “devil” on set, the whole cast jumped. Every take was totally new. We literally had to stop and applaud her when she wrapped.
I think the most challenging thing has been adjusting to working in isolation. We used to all sit in a room together and edit our scripts as a unit. It’s been a major adjustment switching to video calls and notes on Word Documents.
Who are your role models and inspirations?
Sophie: Amanda Walsh, Winnifred Jong, Linda Kash and Jill Gollick. Four queens who really helped us and are uniquely amazing.
Jamie: 100% Amanda Walsh. She’s so cool and so sweet. I loved her as Suzie Borton on Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and Schitt’s Creek is figurative comedic gold. When she came in as a creative mentor there was a lot of embarrassing shrieking in the writer’s room.
And Jill Golick. The woman knows mystery. She has written the most insane murders, but she’s also so funny and so willing to just follow a story thread. When she came in as a mentor she definitely kicked our asses into gear (over snacks!). I love her work. She’s such a gift. We continue to attend her Pendemic Writing Workshops every Wednesday.
Jonathan: As cheesy as it is, I hunt for it all over the place. When I was working at this one particular restaurant and kind of hated it, I had one rule when commuting in the morning. It was my job to fall in love with a moment. Any single moment, whether it be how a kid holds her mom’s hand on the subway, or a lawyer belly laughs on the phone, it was my job to search for it.
What are you doing to promote SJ?
Jamie: You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook! Our handle is @sloppyjonesshow on every platform. We go Live on Instagram with our talk show Sloppy Hour every Tuesday at 6:30 pm. Two cast members call into the show for cocktails, gossip, and games. You can subscribe to us on YouTube Channel as well if you want to see skits and behind the scenes footage!
Jonathan: We drink, gossip, talk shop with our collaborators, creators, and actors on the show. Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and eventually Tik Tok. That’s my baby. I live for Tik Tok.
Sophie: It’s a good time!