Your all-female standup show Dirty Sexy Funny debuts November 29-30 at the Hard Rock Hotel, and the shows will also be filmed. So just how dirty will things get?
The material, I would say, is not that crazy—it’s funny, it’s edgy, but it’s not insulting; it won’t make people get up and leave. It’s just that women are sometimes not supposed to talk about certain things, and I realized with my first book, Belly Laughs, when I kind of spoke the truth about how women really feel, it worked; women told me, “Oh my God, thank you. It’s maybe stuff that we think about but don’t say.” So I figured, if men could do it, why not women?
More important for a man to attend this show or a woman?
Good question. I always consider myself as someone who is always in touch with their masculine and feminine energy that … I don’t really know. That’s a good fucking question to ask! I just want people who are open to this kind of sense of humor. I really don’t mind if it’s either sex. I’m happy with 50-50.
We did two test shows, and I kind of spied on people after it was over, and I heard the women say, “Oh my God, this is the funniest night I’ve ever gone to for comedy!” And the guys were like, “Holy shit, that was amazing.” So I think they’ll take different things away from it—I think girls will tend to talk to about it later at work or with friends; they’ll carry on the message.
You’ve got quite a raw sense of humor; where did it come from?
It came from going to Catholic school my entire life and being kind of put in a box to not speak my mind. The more you’re confined to the cage, the bigger the breakout will be. I was taught by nuns my whole life, and … by the time I got to college, I noticed myself saying things that maybe people don’t want to talk about or are controversial or edgy, just to see the reaction. But it was also kind of freeing for me.
People who went to school with me, when I see them back in Chicago, they say, “Who is this person? You grew up so shy and quiet!”
You started working on The View back in September. How surreal is it that you’re on TV every day sitting alongside Barbara Walters?
Incredibly surreal. Every day I look to my left and go, “Oh my God, it’s Barbara Walters!” It’s her last year there, so I feel like I would’ve been gypped if I didn’t get to work on The View with the queen. So I feel blessed, honored and I am just writing down every single moment that I get to experience with Barbara Walters.
As the world knows, you’ve been dating Donnie Wahlberg for several months now. How challenging is the very public nature of your relationship?
For me, it’s not challenging, because I am an open book. I made the decision early on in my career how much I want to let the public in. And I realized there’s such freedom in being open and honest, and maybe that’s where my comedy comes in—if you’re your authentic self, then you don’t have to worry about what you [say]. It’s so exhausting [and] there’s too much pressure in life to try to bullshit everyone. So I am very open. The only hard thing is when the other person’s in the public eye, if they’re not as much of an extrovert as I am in a relationship. So the hardest thing is balancing out someone else’s needs and respecting what they want in or out of the public.
You do know that because you’re dating a New Kid on the Block that you’re the envy of millions of women around the world, right?
I figured that one out! I went to about eight concerts this summer, and I was blown away. … And I’ve taken such a loving, awesome, respected point of view on the Blockheads, as they call themselves. I feel like a member, and they’ve welcomed me.
The thing Donnie has always been great at is connecting with the audience, giving them love and making them feel like he notices them. Because he’s been so warm and generous with his time, the majority of [fans] are happy for him—they kind of blessed us being together. That means a lot to me. It’s like a big brother or an old boyfriend—they say, “If he’s happy, then we’re happy.” That makes me love the Blockheads even more.
At the same time, how jealous should they be?
That’s a good question. I would say sharing is caring, so I will happily let them squeeze his butt as much as possible. If I can squeeze it, they can squeeze it. But that’s as much as I’ll let them squeeze!
Let’s say, just hypothetically, that this thing with Donnie works out—bachelorette party in Vegas?
Oooh! I haven’t even gone there in my thinking. But the only place to have a bachelor/bachelorette party is in Las Vegas.
What’s your first Las Vegas memory?
I was about to turn 21, and my college boyfriend said, “Do you want to go to Las Vegas?” And I was like, “Yes!” We had never been there before. And in my head, I thought Las Vegas was like the James Bond movies. So we went for the night, and I literally only brought a gown to wear. We come down to the lobby, he’s dressed up, I’m dressed up, and I’m like, “Oh my God, people are in shorts and T-shirts!” I just remember walking around Bally’s being so embarrassed and playing roulette, and people said, “What, did you guys just go to a ball?”
Wildest night in Vegas?
Wow. There are so many. I would say when I was there with Playmates, we were doing a promotion … and we got completely trashed and wanted to steal a taxicab. That was our goal. So we got into a cab and somehow convinced the driver to get out for a second, and one of the Playmates jumped in front and we took off. Essentially, we stole a car! We brought it back about a half-hour later. Fortunately, we weren’t arrested. [Laughs.] It was definitely one of those fun nights with 10 Playmates shoved in a stolen taxicab driving up and down the Strip!
More nerve-wracking: Standing onstage with a microphone in your hand for the first time, or posing nude for Playboy?
Without a doubt, standing onstage with a microphone. Don’t get me wrong: I was terrified [posing nude]. My first pictures were like a mugshot; they had to throw everything away because I was so scared. But, you know, you’re not really doing much. It’s not brain surgery to pose naked. You’re just standing there, and you’re so used to looking at your own body. And you have to trust the photographer—I had one who was there for 50 years shooting, and I was like, “Well, he’s seen everything. And I’m just standing here. It’s not like I’m giving everyone a gynecological shot. So I can’t be that freaked out.”
But the microphone, I love hosting—I’ve always loved it since [her 1990s MTV show] Singled Out, but when you’re unsure of your craft, your goal is to try your best to stay relevant to keep working in the business, so there’s a lot more pressure with that microphone in my hand.
More ego-boosting: Getting a laugh while telling a joke onstage, or seeing yourself on the cover of Playboy?
Oh, for sure, getting a laugh. Because it requires your brain. Posing naked is, I mean, it’s a compliment. But I’ve always also wanted to be known as having a brain underneath the bleach. So to me, my ego is more complimented by a laugh.
What can Jenny McCarthy do better at age 40 than at age 20?
Hmm. Well, I can go with the sex answer! [Laughs.]
Let’s say I’ve honed my skills in the bedroom like all women do as they get later on in life. And then on a philosophical level, I can offer advice so much better to people now.
What will you do better at age 60 than at age 40?
Definitely not the first answer I just gave! I would say hopefully I’ll be more relaxed and maybe more organized in my day-to-day and year-to-year living. I’m kind of a scatterbrain, and I’m always taking on as much as I can. So I’m hoping 60-year-old Jenny can chillax a little bit more.
You’ve been in the public eye now for about two decades. What’s the journey been like?
What did Jerry Garcia say—what a long, strange trip it’s been? [Laughs.] It’s been so wonderful and scary and fulfilling. I remember when I first came on the scene on Singled Out and I read pieces that said, “Her 14 minutes are over.” And I remember thinking, “I can’t wait to be 40 and show these people who wrote this that they were wrong.” I kind of knew within myself what I was capable of, but … you have to prove it. So I made a real clear distinct vision of where I wanted to go to stay working and doing what I love. And I’m so grateful—grateful, grateful—that I’ve been able to support a kid on this journey without any support—single mom, through and through. So I feel like gratitude has been my journey.
You’re dating a New Kid on the Block, you work alongside Barbara Walters, you’re hosting your own comedy show in Las Vegas, you’ve written several books, and of course you were once Playmate of the Year—what the hell is left on your bucket list?
Ha! [Pause.] I would say maybe to get to Broadway and do a play. Yeah, to spread my wings in front of an audience and perform in that way would be kind of cool.