WSU alumna makes comedic cuisine

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Jen Saunderson, stand-up comedian and WSU alumna, hosts a television program that puts a twist on modern cooking shows, with a mix of comedy and creative cuisine.

“We’re definitely not classically-trained chefs by any means because nobody is going to make an aphrodisiac cupcake and then put an oyster on top of that,” Saunderson said. “I would say that our food isn’t necessarily heavy on the presentation, but it’s definitely heavy on the creativity.”

“The Filling is Mutual” is a comedy series Saunderson and her friend Jenny Zingrino host on the Independent Film Channel (IFC). The two stand-up comedians invite guests on the show to create crazy food combinations.

“There’s a lot of comedy shows, and there’s a lot of cooking shows, but it’s the first I’ve ever seen of kind of combining the two genres,” Saunderson said.

Saunderson earned her bachelor’s in anthropology and communication with an emphasis in public relations and advertisement at WSU in 2005. She was introduced to comedy when she went to an event on campus that featured a stand-up comedian.

“For me, I went into advertising, but I fell in love with comedy when I was at WSU and that wasn’t even part of my plan. I didn’t even know that was possible,” Saunderson said. “I went to an Up All Night, and there was a comedian, and they hosted a quick little class.”

During her time at WSU, Saunderson worked part-time jobs at Flix and The Daily Evergreen as a copy chief.

“I had a sleeping bag under my desk in the office at the Evergreen,” Saunderson said. “All the studying and the multiple jobs, like when am I going to sleep?”

In addition to her jobs, she created a comedy club where they performed stand-up routines. She found her passion for comedy and decided to run with it after she graduated. Saunderson encourages students to find passions outside of their chosen majors.

“I think it’s important to be open to other things and not just what you originally came for because sometimes the passion that you didn’t even know you had, it’ll just hit you in between classes,” she said.

Saunderson has been able to use her anthropology major  to make the best possible jokes without offending anyone’s culture, religion or beliefs.

“I think it’s really important to learn about other cultures and to know what other people are going through and what they believe in,” Saunderson said. “I think a big part of culture is the cuisine that you’re given and that’s a great way of learning about other cultures.”

After WSU, she moved to Seattle and continued stand-up comedy in clubs and at festivals. As she met other comedians along the way, she invited them into her home and baked foods based off the jokes that they would tell during their performances.

“We filmed a couple of those when I lived in Seattle, and then my best friend, she was pitching some ideas,” Saunderson said, “She told IFC about it, and they really liked the idea and decided to make it a show.”

Saunderson wanted to make this show years ago because she enjoyed making silly foods with her comedian friends. She asked her Facebook friends in the past about some name ideas for the show.

“I always hear that phrase ‘the filling,’ like how I feel about this is mutual and I kind of wanted to do a pun,” Saunderson said. “Somebody said that, and I just fell in love with it because it’s punny and silly and combines a couple different ideas together.”

Saunderson explained that every episode is unique because each guest comedian on the show brings a different sense of humor.

“You could have somebody like Mehran Khaghani, who is incredibly boisterous and in your face,” Saunderson said, “and then you can have someone like Ty Barnett, who is more grounded but still really funny.”

The dynamic of Saunderson and Zigrino as the hosts of the show allow for both straightforward comedy and eccentric sarcasm.

“Jenny is super sarcastic, and I’m definitely more the straight-man … She’s very vivacious and so you kind of get sucked up into it,” Saunderson said. “She can talk about things that I blush about. She can go full balls-to-the-wall, ‘let’s talk about sex.’”

Saunderson’s show “The Filling Is Mutual” is out now on the Independent Film Channel website and Youtube for free.