Laugh When It Hurts With 'Oh Sit!' Host Jessi Cruickshank
July 11th, 2013 4:30pm EDT
If you thought The CW basing a game show on musical chairs was ridiculous, you weren't the only one. "I actually heard about the show through the trades or something, and I remember thinking 'So this is the end of television as we know it. This is the worst idea I've ever heard,'" confessed Oh Sit! cohost Jessi Cruickshank. "And then when they told me they wanted me to come in and meet about it, I was like 'Really? I don't know.'"
But when she took that meeting and found out that "my role would be to make fun of the people doing it, I realized it was something I actually really wanted to do," she continued with a laugh. "The thing with our show, if you can embrace the ridiculousness of what you're doing, which I think we've been able to do really well, then you're in on the joke. It was a huge hit for The CW. People were watching it and people were loving it."
Oh Sit! recently completed airing its second season, which was even zanier than the first. Looking back, "Our second season we sort of upped the ante on everything," reflected Jessi. "The second season we decided we were going to make it really crazy. They wanted more ridiculous falls, more slips, more slides. The obstacles got faster, some of them move now. It was brutal, grueling and way more hilarious.
"People ask me all the time, 'Would you ever do the course?' and I always say, 'I don't think I'm ensured for that,'" she quipped, "but I quite enjoy sipping a warm beverage in my little skybox looking down on the people who have made the life choice to compete on a musical chairs game show."
What makes the gig so enjoyable? "There are so many TV jobs that, they're looking for the blond chick with the big boobs to read the teleprompter, and that frankly is not me," she told us. "So when they said, 'We just want you to be yourself and be funny and kind of improv,' that was so exciting for me. And then I get to work with Jamie [Kennedy, her co-host]. He makes me laugh and I'm comfortable every day in the best way possible."
Then there's watching things like this happen.
This isn't exactly where Jessi imagined she'd end up when she was growing up in Calgary. "I never thought I would be on TV ever," she said. "It was always my intention to do something very noble and important with my life. I was going to save the world, and I still hope to do that - one musical chairs game show at a time."
"When I was working my way through college, a kids' show was auditioning on campus and I got that job, and honestly paid my way through school doing this ridiculous children's show," she explained. "When I graduated I was supposed to get my master's degree. Lo and behold, MTV was doing a nationwide search for hosts and I was lucky enough to have been found and get the job. It all happened very accidentally and very quickly. Sorry, Mom and Dad."
Jessi's star shot up in a hurry when she and Dan Levy co-hosted MTV Canada's after-show for reality series The Hills and later its spin-off The City, which she describes as "this crazy bizarre phenomenon. We just had to fill a half hour after The Hills to make it Canadian content. Our producers literally said one night, 'You guys are just going to sit around drinking and shooting the shit about The Hills.' And I remember thinking, 'Really, you think this is a good idea for a television show?'"
But it worked: "Our show at some point got better ratings than The Hills," she added. "Now aftershows are everywhere. Sometimes I laugh to myself thinking that it was us, semi-drunk, at 11 pm in Canada, that was perhaps the first incarnation of these shows."
Even if she didn't intend to become a TV host, it's clear that Jessi has ended up exactly where she should be. Able to make fun of herself just as much as she cracks jokes about the contestants on Oh Sit!, she's hilarious, quick-witted and down-to-earth. She still thinks of herself as "this awkward redheaded chick from Canada."
And while it might be some time before she gets to comment on people falling off obstacles again (The CW has yet to renew Oh Sit! for a third season), Jessi is branching out into new territory with her career. "I did my first like foray into scripted comedy. I did a sitcom," she revealed. "Kirstie Alley has a new sitcom [Kirstie's New Show] that I am on with Michael Richards, Jason Alexander, and Rhea Perlman." An added bonus is that the gig meets with parental approval: "My parents have never been more excited."
When she's not working with sitcom greats or talking about people embarrassing themselves on TV, Jessi works with Free the Children, a youth-oriented charity whose other celebrity ambassadors include The Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev, Martin Sheen and Canadian rock band Hedley. Jessi shot two documentaries with Feed the Children; you can check out a clip from 2008's Jessi in India below.
Jessi may not feel like a celebrity - "I think if you work in this business and have a moment where you say, 'I've made it,' it's probably going to be all downhill from there," - she quips - but she's doing pretty well for herself. She's beautiful, hilarious, working with the stars and helping the less fortunate of the world - what more could you possibly want from your TV host?
You can currently catch Jessi on various programs on the Style Network, and Kirstie premieres in December on TV Land. You can also keep up with Jessi by following her on Twitter (@Jessi).
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Photo Credits: The CW