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Meghan Jenkins and I started this website with several of her friends last spring, and I felt it was time to talk with Meghan about the challenges and successes of creating and performing in a 2020 that offered a vastly different landscape than any previous year.
We exchanged messages by email, text, Instagram IM, and telepathy. (That last one is made-up.) The multi-platform conversation offered below has been lightly edited for clarity and consistency.
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I am trying to be what I needed to see when I was a kid. Maybe there is someone else who’s as tortured feeling as I was who could use a laugh with a Panda. I just keep writing, keep creating, because one day, I won’t be able to, and I don’t want to regret missing a chance to create something that could really impact the world in a positive way.—Meghan Jenkins
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Mark: It looked like 2020 turned into a pretty busy year for you. Everyone was faced with the same challenges that the pandemic and quarantining wrought on us, and you, like many comedians and writer/performers, turned to the available resources to create and share your work.
Meghan: 2020 for me was fulfilling creatively. The fact that there WERE so many obstacles excited me. Suddenly, entertainment … and a lot of the world, all of us, were on semi-equal footing in regard to some things. I have always been of the “grow where you’re planted” mindset, so I see obstacles as exciting challenges. I get adrenaline rushes from trying to break out of seemingly impossible situations.
The projects I got involved with, they certainly weren’t the original plans I had. I still have a book I mean to finish, but I ended up getting booked and recognized for things that came from my desire for freedom. I was stuck in a situation where I could have let a group of people take me down, and I showed them and everyone that that would never happen. I made new friends and business acquaintances I never would have come across if it weren’t for the challenges of the pandemic. I still am not great with tech stuff, but I figured out Zoom all by myself and I can’t tell you how good that feels.
Mark: I wrote on my own website once that you can sometimes appear “more comfortable and at home on-camera than in-person,” which you agreed with, yet you have experience in front of live audiences at venues like The Comedy Store. Which formats do you find work best for you, live or on-camera or podcasting?
Meghan: As far as a format that suits me best, I think I have learned that I am pretty adaptable. I was nervous at first (about doing Instagram Live and venues like that), if I would be able to read and interact with the audience the way I can in person—like when I’m out in the world, conversing—and it took a couple months for me to get used to being in a room alone, but now it feels very natural, and I found out I am still very good at interacting with crowds even through a screen. I kinda like the safety of it as well. It can be dangerous performing in public sometimes, depending on all sorts of things. That’s part of the rush of performing live though, and I do miss it. I definitely need to get better at tech things I think for me to really show what I can do.
Mark: Since last summer, you’ve produced a lot of projects (The The Ding Wrong Show, a well-received album of electronic dance music, the 24-Hour IGTV ThanksGiving Marathon on Instagram), and you’ve also been a part of many performance projects on social media, both recorded and live. There was a moment or two when it seemed to me there were a few announcements of upcoming online appearances per day. Had you decided to try every possible venue just to see what works, have you made a philosophy out of saying “yes” to projects?
Meghan: I don’t say yes to everything. Not at all. I have said no to more projects than I have said yes. That goes for this year, too.
Mark: You’ve also opened a store for fans of The The Ding Wrong Show to show they’re fans.
Meghan: I like designing things—I designed the sets for the show and for other projects I’ve worked on in the past, and I’ve had several paintings of mine be shown in galleries—and it was fun to come up with a way to celebrate the show with people.
Mark: Any bestsellers in the store?
Mark: How do you know when something is right for you? Self-knowledge? Intuition?
Meghan: I go with my intuition, which for me is about 99% past learning experiences, maybe even 100%. Everything I have learned is in me, and sometimes I just get that yes yes yes feeling, and even I can’t explain it in the moment, but I trust it if I feel it and I no longer argue with it. I just do what feels right for me in my gut. Sometimes I get a flash of inspiration and just go till it’s done.
I have been fortunate to be involved with high-level entertainers and learn from being around them and watching how they interact and respond and make decisions. I learned that if something feels wrong, I say no. And that’s ok. Even if it’s a high-level job, if I know in the future it might be damaging in some way, or not be in line with how I want to use my time here on earth, I have said no. I do think my age has something to do with this. When I was in my early 20s I was with a modeling agency and said yes yes yes yes. Bad bad bad. Lol. No matter what, I learn something from every experience I have. I make everything worth it somehow, so I can keep going and be better than the last time.
Mark: Of course, this interview will come out while you are in a competition for the Jetset Magazine cover. If you win, will we have to move “model” to the front of your credits?
Meghan: If I won this model contest would I become a full-time model? Maybe. Hahaha! I love that these contests are for charities. So even if I do not win, the charities do. The “Miss Jetset competition raises funds for the Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation, and that’s a major children’s cancer charity that offers financial assistance for families with children with cancer across the nation and helps fund cancer research, too.
For me, it’s nice for the exposure, but it’s about the work. I hope people will look at what I do and listen to what I say. That’s why I want to win. I want to be noticed for what I can do. I want to help change the world. I want to be at the forefront of a new media that will change everything. I have always valued my brain over everything else. I do think I am very fortunate to have a look that gets people to at least pay attention for a second. It’s up to me to hold that attention with what I do and say.
I am aware of the fact that Instagram and Facebook and the world likes to see pretty things, so I try to post good-looking photos, but they probably are very awkward because I have a hard time seeing how I look in that “model” way.
Mark: You want to make people laugh and think.
Meghan: I don’t have the in-your-face “I’m gonna make you laugh” style some comedians have. I am trying to be what I needed to see when I was a kid. Maybe there is someone else who’s as tortured-feeling as I was who could use a laugh with a Panda. Art and music and sports saved my life. No doubt about it. I just keep writing, keep creating, because one day, I won’t be able too. And I don’t want to regret missing a chance to create something that could really impact the world in a positive way.
Mark: Thanks, Meghan.
Meghan: Thank you!
Mark Aldrich is a journalist and award-winning humor columnist whose website is TheGadAboutTown.com. He is a writer/performer with the Magnificent Glass Pelican radio comedy improv group, now in its thirtieth season.
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Meghan Jenkins is an actor, comedian, radio personality, musician, model, brand ambassador for Pineapple Clothing, and author of the forthcoming book, The Adventures of Pizza Alien.
She is currently the host of the live comedy improv show The The Ding Wrong Show, recorded on Zoom and seen on YouTube:
Meghan released Panda’s Dance Party, her debut album, in December 2020. It is now available to purchase, download, and stream on every music platform: Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes Store, Amazon Music, deezer, Tidal, Pandora, Juno Download.
A social media influencer, in the spring of 2020 her photos of life in quarantine led to an invitation from Maxim magazine to participate in a cover model contest for which readers could submit votes. Her grassroots campaign against professional models brought her to a third-place finish.
In 2018-’19, she was one of the on-air personalities on The Ding Dong Show, recorded each week live with an audience at The World Famous Comedy Store in Hollywood, California.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.