TBS’ new game show The Misery Index is far from your typical game show — instead of contestants guessing at mundane trivia questions, they must rank real-life unfortunate experiences on a scale from 1-100. Possible scenarios include getting attacked by a bear, being breastfed until age 9, or even getting your privates stuck in a shower chair. Yikes. But misery goes down best with laughter, and you’ll be doing a lot of that with host Jameela Jamil (Tahani from The Good Place) and the Tenderloins (the comedy team behind truTV’s Impractical Jokers), who help “coach” the contestants through each situation. We talked to Jamil about why she decided to host a game show now and what it’s like working with those crazy guys, and even got her to reveal one of her own embarrassing moments.
Why did you decide to join the show?
Jameela Jamil: They just said “the Tenderloins” and I said yes. That was basically it. That was the pitch. “Do you want to host a game show with the Tenderloins?” “Yes, please. Please, and when?” Basically, those were my two questions. Before I even knew what the show was about, knowing that they were involved and how much I loved them made me really excited. And I thought the premise of the game was really funny and unique and just a really great way of talking about the way that humans survive by laughing their way through misery. And the show really embodies that.
Had you met the guys before or worked with them previously?
I hadn’t. I was just a fan from afar, and they’re really big fans of The Good Place. So we were just really excited to meet each other. … I’d heard wonderful things about them, what they’re like to work with, and I can now confirm they are 100% the most extraordinary crew of guys to work with. … They’ve been a tight crew over 20 years, and they welcomed me like I was the fifth Tenderloin. I refer to myself as the “Tandoori Tenderloin” because of it. … I would do this show for 100 years. I love this show so much. It’s so stupid and so fun, and I’d work with them forever. … I’ve inherited four big brothers.
Share a bit on the stress level of the game’s format.
It’s a fairly high-stress situation filming a show that people are relying on you for life-changing money, and they want to do life-changing things with that money. The pressure’s so on. We care so much. Sal cries in the fourth round every single time he’s in it. Every time Sal gets picked for the fourth round, he cries. Which is my favorite thing about him. He just cares so much.
Let’s talk The Good Place. You’re finished filming the final season — did you take anything from the set?
No. I asked if I could have Ted Danson, but they said no, that’s illegal. So I’m hoping they’re going to send me a sign — I just want a sign of our neighborhood number.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m turning my Instagram account, I Weigh, into a full company. So I guess I’m a businesswoman. I’ve hired a staff of women, and we’re all going to smash the patriarchy together. … We’re going to create an activism platform for young people to teach them about how to be better allies, and create a space that’s radically inclusive, where they can feel like every marginalized person can find someone who looks like themselves on our pages. … I’m also writing a book! And hopefully there will be more Misery Index fun ahead.
Let’s play our own version of The Misery Index. What have been some of your most traumatizing experiences?
Worst job ever:
When I was 19, I volunteered to be tested on. It triggered me into eczema forever, so I really hope that product never made it to market. But that was genuinely my job for a year, just testing, drinking anything, trying anything, putting any kind of cream on, trying out makeup in these medical trials, and I’ve never recovered.
Movie that scarred you for life:
Scream. @#$% that movie. @#$% that movie to hell. I can’t be alone at night in a house because of Scream. It’s affected all of my living decisions forever. It’s affected my rental decisions. I’m haunted forever by that stupid scene where the light comes on. … That film ruined my life.
Oh yeah. Why do people eat kimchi? I know it’s good for you, but it smells like anus when it comes out. Not here for it.
Most embarrassing moment:
I had to interview Daniel Craig once, and I’d mistaken how well I could fit in my dress, and my whole dress exploded open at the back all the way up to the neck. [So] I had my bum out during an interview with Daniel Craig and two Bond girls. … Everyone heard the dress split open. I had to still sit down and finish the interview, wearing my dress which was now just an apron. I had to moonwalk out of the hotel.
I once went on a date with a man who took lots of drugs before we got to the cinema, and he’d taken a hallucinogenic just before our date — which was at 6pm — so that’s the sign that he was a drug addict. But I didn’t know. It was our first ever date. And we went to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is already a very trippy movie. And if you’re on acid and you watch that film at the same time, you scream for two hours straight. And you and your date get kicked out of the cinema in front of everyone.
The Misery Index, TBS, Tuesday, Oct. 22