Jimmy Fowlie is a comedy writer and performer who began writing for “Saturday Night Live” in 2022. He is also a Bedford native and attended the public schools through his freshman year before transferring to Walnut Hill School for the Arts located in Natick.
In Bedford, Fowlie said that there were plenty of “opportunities to be creative” and he was especially grateful for Amy Budka, now retired, who was the centerpiece of youth music and theater for decades.
Fowlie remembers Budka casting him in his first-ever role as Nathan Detroit in the John Glenn Middle School’s production of “Guys and Dolls” and has fond memories of his experiences with the Bedford performing arts department.
Fowlie always knew he wanted to pursue a career somewhere under the wide umbrella of performing arts, but originally aspired to be an actor. This changed, however, during his time in college at the University of Southern California where he became involved in improv and comedy, joining The Groundlings, a renowned LA improvisation and sketch comedy school. Exploring this new career path Fowlie realized there “was less control with acting” as it is such a competitive, subjective, and uncertain industry to get a job in, and with comedy and improv he was “able to create the opportunities” for himself without waiting for the approval or direction of others.
Through performing at The Groundlings, Fowlie was exposed to SNL scouts and was offered an audition to work for SNL as a casted sketch actor. That dream and era was ended by the Covid pandemic, but he received another opportunity years later when Heidi Gardner, an SNL actress and one of Fowlie’s close friends, alerted him that the show was looking to hire new writers and asked if he would be interested.
Fowlie gave himself a week to write a packet of all brand-new material, emulating the show’s quick turn-around times and tight deadlines and was asked to start immediately.
Fowlie describes his comedic style as “irreverent, upsetting, and dumb” as many of his sketches are silly and fully embrace the ridiculous side of humor. His style is memorable and identifiable, as his free spirit and goofy nature shine throughout his work.
In a world where many people focus on sacrificing their uniqueness for being agreeable, and base their self-worth on gaining the respect and approval of others, Fowlie works to get the most laughs and finds the most success by recognizing absurd elements in storytelling. He is not seeking prestige and does not take his work or himself too seriously. Fowlie has gracefully mastered this, and as a result, has found remarkable success and high levels of recognition.
Fowlie said that one of the accomplishments he was most proud of was being nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety Series in 2023 and he was very grateful for this wonderful honor and recognition.
Some of the recent projects that Fowlie has worked on are his SNL sketch “M3gan 2.0,” parodying the horror movie “M3gan,” where Fowlie leans into the joke present throughout online discourse that M3gan is a gay icon. Fowlie said that this project was fun to work on and one of his recent personal favorites.
Another project still in motion is his comedy show “Trauma Blonding,” co-hosted with fellow SNL star Ceara O’Sullivan where they ‘host’ an “unhinged dating seminar” in drag. Their show Trauma Blonding is coming to Boston at Deep Cuts in Medford on Saturday, Sept. 9.
In terms of finding inspiration, Fowlie finds the fast pace of writing for SNL really beneficial as it doesn’t give him time for writer’s block. No matter how bad it is, he forces himself to write something, which often relieves the pressure to perform and allows him to move past that barrier.
Growing up, Fowlie shared that he heard a lot of negative talk from adults about wanting to follow his dreams. They would often say it’s really rare and difficult to be successful and especially reiterating how “hard” it was.
Now, when he gives advice to aspiring young creators, he radiates positivity and encouragement telling them that “you can do it,” the words he wished he had heard more when he was younger.
As for being told that becoming a comedic writer and performer would be “hard,” he originally did not know what “hard” meant. The level of difficulty was unattainable and ambiguous, and he was uncertain of how it would affect him.
After going through his journey and finding success and satisfaction in writing for SNL, he is able to describe what was so “hard” about following his dreams and why people in his life tried to scare him with this word. Fowlie said, “hard equals heartbreak, embarrassment, and disappointment. It is that feeling when things don’t work out and you worry you have to move back in with your parents.”
However, despite life being really hard at times and wanting to give up, the “true success story is hustling, making very little money but being determined to make your way up in the world,” which is all worth it in the end.
Looking back on his own experience, Fowlie encourages others to embrace the struggle and use it as an opportunity to prove yourself and the fact that you can do it. You can follow your dreams.
When asked if there was anything else he wanted to share about his experience growing up in Bedford and how it has shaped him, Fowlie delivered a punchline in true Jimmy Fowlie form with perfect sass, “Shout out to all my friends, and an even more special shout out to my bullies, I truly miss you guys.”