Comedy Central’s brand new show touches on transgender issues in a hilarious way
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS, IMAGE VIA COMEDY CENTRAL
Jordan Gray’s talents clearly have no limit. She can sing, write, act and is now adding comedy into the mix. You might recognise her from TV shows like The Voice, as well as giving her thoughts and opinions as a DIVA columnist in the past.
Transaction is a new online miniseries produced by Comedy Central, which Jordan wrote herself and co-stars in. The story focusses of transgender narcissist Liv and her best friend Tom as they work the nightshift together at a supermarket.
It’s hilariously witty, but there’s also a deeper message. The humour and fast-paced dialogue touch on transgender issues alongside other identity topics, showing how they play out in every day discussions.
We caught up with Jordan to find out more about the show. 🌈
DIVA: Can you tell us a little bit about your new show Transaction?
JORDAN GRAY: Transaction is a six episode short form series that I wrote for Comedy Central UK. I play the co-lead character called Liv. Olivia was actually going to be my name. I’m transgender and I was about to change my name to Olivia and then I realised Jordan is a gender neutral name. So there was no point in wasting my money on that.
I’ve been a part of the whole process and I’m chuffed about it. It’s set in a supermarket overnight and my co-star, Thomas Gray, is one of my favourite people.
How did you get involved with the show?
I’d always had this idea for a character that was basically me without any self-awareness, so I came in and pitched the idea. We spoke about where might be a good setting for that. We talked about it being in an office, but I’ve never really worked in an office. A supermarket felt like the right space to have loads of hijinks and pranks and I think it works well for the show.
What’s the process been like?
Being a solo singer is very lonely, and being a solo comedian exaggerates that even more. It’s been really nice to collaborate with others and come into an office. I’ve hopefully found myself a home at Comedy Central. These people really feel like my family now. It’s nice to work with other people who really care about the project, because makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger.
How did you get involved in comedy?
I wasn’t a funny person in school, I’ve become funnier with time. I had a really wonderful career in music doing The Voice and other reality TV bits. But I realised that comedy is a much quicker way into people’s hearts. I think you can affect people a lot deeper by making them laugh rather than just by singing. I want to change as many people’s minds as possible and provide great trans representation in comedy.
How did you draw on your previous experiences in the entertainment industry for this particular role?
Being a singer and being a comedian means you have to be your own everything. It means you are your own PR person and all that fun stuff. It’s really nice to come into a bigger company like this with some understanding of those roles and being able to communicate with everyone at every level of the project.
My music career taught me to find the quickest way and the most effective way to elicit emotion and to tell a story. The most important thing with comedy and with a sitcom is that you make someone laugh. You have to get a reaction out of them and leave them with an idea or a story. It’s been really beneficial having those experiences.
What has the reaction been like to Transaction so far?
It’s been wonderfully positive. Universally so. Actually no, that implies that people are watching it on other planets. Everyone that I’ve spoken to has really liked it.
I was kind of worried that a broad audience might like it, but the transgender community might have a knee jerk reaction to it, thinking I’m poking fun at the wrong places. It’s been 100% positive though. I’ve had some lovely messages from transgender people and really young people saying that they are finally able to laugh at themselves. It feels like it’s make some sort of cultural impact. My job is to strengthen that and make it as big of an impact as possible.
Who are your comedy heroes?
So many of my comedy heroes of late have disappointed me recently. They’ve taken on some unsavoury messages and it’s quite strange to me that they’ve taken on such strange politics.
But I really love Tina Fey and Donald Glover the most. I love American comics who are auteurs. I like people who take an idea from the beginning to its final stage.
There’s so many amazing people doing comedy right now though. I’m thankful that I get to work with a lot of people that I admire. Thomas Gray, my co-star, some of his stuff went viral and I still quote it today. To work with him is like touching a little bit of pop culture history.
How much transgender representation is there in comedy?
There’s transgender people on the circuit who are doing amazing things and there’s a lot of transgender advocates on TV. But there hasn’t really been that crossover where trans comedians have made their way into mainstream media.
I think it was important that my character is a bit of an idiot as well. I didn’t want to cast myself as the moral high ground. That would be strange. I’m glad I got to play the one who gets their comeuppance at the end of each episode. It’s a character that people haven’t seen before and I think it could really be the start of something special.
There’s set to be six five minute episodes of Transaction that can be found across Comedy Central UK’s Facebook, YouTube and Instagram accounts, as well as over at comedycentral.co.uk every Wednesday.
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