There's never dead air when you're with Jessica St. Clair, who has a giant personality to go with her big blue eyes and blond hair. Taking a break from filming her new NBC sitcom Best Friends Forever at a Rampart Village studio, the Santa Monica-based comedian and actress delivers a delirious barrage of quips, observations and one-liners. “I was so flat-chested in high school,” she explains, “that I thought I'd better be funny if guys were going to like me.”
She is certainly that. (Funny, that is.) In fact, she's easily among the most hilarious of the rapidly expanding sphere of prominent female comedians, spurred, in part, by last year's surprise hit Bridesmaids. St. Clair had a memorable role in that film, as the bridal shop owner. (You know, the spot where the ladies lose their lunch.) “For some reason, we're having a moment,” St. Clair says of her fellow Hollywood funnywomen.
Still, she's not exactly sure how to characterize the female-centric vibe of Best Friends Forever — perhaps a “ho-mance” between “friend-bians”? It's a fictionalized portrait of the obsessive-yet-platonic relationship between her and Lennon Parham, her co-star, writing partner and real-life bestie. After St. Clair's character gets divorced, she moves back in with Parham, only to find out that her roommate's new boyfriend has set up shop. They promptly deflate his beloved Michigan Wolverines blow-up chair.
The New Jersey-bred St. Clair met Parham at New York's Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, where the alt-comedy institution's co-founder Amy Poehler discouraged female performers from dressing “hot” for their shows. In this spirit, St. Clair remains uninterested in stereotypical wife or girlfriend roles. “I'd much rather play the homeless person jerking off in the corner,” she insists.
Landing in L.A. just before the 2007 writers strike, she feared her career would crater — “I spent a lot of time crying in the Target parking lot,” she says. But things rebounded with a prominent role in She's Out of My League, and television and movie parts followed, not to mention a memorable turn on the Comedy Bang Bang podcast as Marissa Wompler, a precocious 15-year-old awkwardly coming to grips with her sexuality. Wompler consumes nothing but candy and is prone to excessive enthusiasm, which is what makes her so likable.
At 34, St. Clair has the same quality. Talking today with her show's writers about promotional spots, she's tickled about one pairing her with Betty White, star of the senior citizen candid-camera show Off Their Rockers, the lead-in for Best Friends Forever. The plan is for St. Clair to punch the nonagenarian in the face. “This,” she says of her TV odyssey, “has been my dream since I was 12.”