Attention, beautiful people: the comedy scene just got way more fabulous — and funnier, too. Queer Eye's appointed groomer and hairdresser Jonathan Van Ness is breaking into the world of stand-up in partnership with Hotels.com. The booking giant chronicled Van Ness's Fall comedy tour in a new docuseries titled 10 Nights With Jonathan Van Ness. He hit up a number of cities — including Seattle, NYC, and Kansas City, MO — across the nation, bringing his humor, positivity, and bright attitude to the stage. POPSUGAR spoke to Van Ness and learned more about his love for comedy and details about the docuseries.
In the 10-part series, which you can watch on YouTube, viewers will see Van Ness travel from city to city, living out his stand-up comedy dream — but they'll also see all the ups and downs that come along with starting something new. "Definitely there [have] been times where I tried out a bit, and it didn't land the way I thought it was going to land," Van Ness told POPSUGAR. "I think you see me really in the process of performing and editing the performance as I'm going. It really feels like an authentic peek into what those experiences look like."
Although he's new to the stand-up scene, the TV personality certainly isn't a stranger to comedy. Aside from giving fans a lot of good laughs on Queer Eye, Van Ness has also starred in Funny or Die's YouTube series Gay of Thrones since 2013. The show features Van Ness giving lively recaps of HBO's Game of Thrones while doing clients' hair. Through that, he met Drop Dead Diva star and comedy legend Margaret Cho and became her hairdresser.
"During the shows, I feel just so present and so energetic and also kind of in awe. I can't tell you how many times a day I'm like, 'I can't even believe this is my life.'"
But Cho saw much more in him and continuously encouraged him to pursue a career in stand-up, even though Van Ness initially pushed back on the idea. "I had impostor syndrome already because I look up to her so much," Van Ness said. "People spend their whole professional lives trying to burst onto this scene, and I didn't see that I was good enough." He finally gathered the courage to set his fears aside after filming Queer Eye in 2017 and accompanied a few friends to stand-up shows in LA, where he performed for the first time in a major way. That's when things started to click. "I was like, oh, my God. I love this so much. It's so fun. It's like a whole new medium of communication for me," he said. That's also when Hotels.com reached out to propose the idea of the docuseries.
A lot of Van Ness's comedic material comes from things he's passionate about — the Olympics, film, TV shows. He has also started keeping tabs on everyday inspirations that hit him. "I have my phone with me all the time, and I'll just write things down; like situations or jokes or bits that I think are funny," he said. And if he needs any more inspiration, he just channels "some good old fashioned gay rage."
While Van Ness admits that he usually has butterflies in his stomach right before a show, you can hardly tell; he totally captivates audience members with his confidence and inviting smile. "During the shows, I feel just so present and so energetic and also kind of in awe. I can't tell you how many times a day I'm like, 'I can't even believe this is my life,'" he said.
The overarching theme of the docuseries is to simply do what you want to do, go after what you want, and don't be afraid to fail. "There [are] just so many ways to get to your goal," Van Ness emphasized. "Just because I wasn't at open mic nights at midnight five nights a week doesn't make my path any less OK. Everyone has their own path and their own way." And that sense of self-assurance and willingness to live and learn are precisely why he's determined to "stand-up or cry trying."
Watch Van Ness on his journey to developing his stand-up career in the episodes of 10 Nights With Jonathan Van Ness ahead. Hotels.com will release an episode every other day on YouTube, so be on the lookout for the next clip! Then, see photos of him at the docuseries's premiere party in New York.