Mixing comedy and psychology is an unlikely combination — but, for Amy Hoggart, it was a natural choice for her TV show.
“[truTV] gave me a deal without a premise, a blank slate, and it was quite a challenge to work out a premise that hadn’t been done that felt specific to me,” says Hoggart, 33, who was born in America but raised in England.
“I just felt like doing a show where I’m helping people with their problems. It felt very right for me and hadn’t been done as far as I can tell.”
“It’s Personal with Amy Hoggart,” airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m., is part reality show, part earnest-self help and part comedy.
Hoggart has a background in comedic field pieces that involve talking to people, thanks to stints on TBS’s “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” and “Almost Royal,” which aired on BBC America (2014-2016) and involved Hoggart playing a fictional British character interacting with unsuspecting Americans, “Borat” style.
Each episode of “It’s Personal” features Hoggart (as herself) trying to help a regular person through an issue, including anxiety that prevents one young man from being able to do job interviews to body image issues that prevent a young woman in Miami from living her full potential.
Although there are frequently funny moments, Hoggart plays it straight and earnestly tries to help people. Messages at the beginning of each episode warn the viewer that she is an “unlicensed non-professional.”
“I honestly would say getting the right tone of the show was the biggest challenge,” she says. “Because these are real people, they have real problems [and] we should be sensitive to that. And the problems range in severity. Like there’s a woman who has no sense of humor, and a guy experiencing grief. So that’s sort of the range.
“But I have written about grief before. I’ve written humorous pieces about it. I can do that,” she says. “I want to write about difficult topics and bring humor to that. It’s possible but always difficult.”
“It’s Personal” was mostly staffed by writers, directors, and producers with backgrounds in comedy, including shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” “Nathan for You” and “At Home with Amy Sedaris.” Hoggart even looked at shows such as “Queer Eye” and “The Bachelor” for inspiration.
“It’s a comedy first, but it’s unscripted and self-help and we have experts and graphics explaining certain things,” she says. “There is no genre, really, which is so great and makes it so unique. But it was also hard to make because nobody who worked on it had ever made a show like this before, so we were all working it out as we went along … We were all sort of watching things to see how they’re made. There was no one show where we were like, ‘Oh, it’s this.’
“Your show is only possible because of the history of other stuff that came before it, if that makes sense,” she says. “We’re adding to the conversation.”
Hoggart says she feels uneasy promoting a show during a pandemic, but hopes that it can help people.
“It is a show that’s very loving and funny,” she says. “My message to people is to find anything that makes you feel good. Just try and distract yourself right now, look after yourself. I want people to find it funny and laugh, but I also want people to feel less alone. You can watch it and think. ‘I have that problem, I feel relieved that other people have it too.’
“And if you don’t have that exact issue, probably someone in your life will — so then the idea is that you can feel reassured.”
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