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Permanent Pause for HBO’s PAUSE WITH SAM JAY

by Jef Dinsmore
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I don’t know how many of us had this HBO show, PAUSE WITH SAM JAY, on our radar but the show has been canceled. Official press releases aren’t in the habit of announcing each and every show that has gotten the axe you have to find out via another source, which is what we did here to discover the news.  

PauseWithSamJay_PicIn an interview with The Daily Beast, Sam Jay discussed a few topics, including a Netflix movie called You People, and eventually got around to her HBO gig. Here is the meat of the conversation, transcribed from one of the site’s podcasts. 

Daily Beast: So, let’s talk about Pause, which is a show that I love. It was this really big opportunity to do your own thing—and congrats on the Writers Guild Award nomination, by the way. How did you think about that when you knew it was time to leave SNL? What were your thoughts about what you wanted to make? 

Sam Jay: I just wanted to make a vehicle that made sense for me and that felt like me, and it didn’t feel right for me to sit behind a desk. I just didn’t want to do that. And so I was trying to think of a late-night show format that allowed me some freedom of thought, and expression, and also just something I hadn’t seen. We already have a bunch of shows with people behind a desk, but what do we not have? What haven’t we seen? And what’s another way to spark conversation and dialogue? I just tried to make something that was—I don’t want to say grounded, but something that was more connected to actual people. We know the people that everyone talks to, like Cornel West and whoever you call on race and whoever you call on politics. But what are day-to-day people thinking and what are day-to-day people saying and how are they feeling? So, we wanted to do a show where our guests are just, like, people. 

DB: Yeah, I think the show is so unique and does feel so different from everything else on TV, especially because of those party scenes that you guys do. Was that the idea from the beginning to include those, or how did that come about? 

SJ: I mean, we had a lot of different iterations of ideas, honestly, and we were just trying to find the one that made sense and fit. At some point, I called [executive producer] Prentice Perry drunk and I was like, “Yo! I get it. It should be a party. Do you get it?” And he was like, “No, I don’t understand what you’re talking about.” And I was like, “Cool, I’m gonna call you when I’m sober.” So I called him the next morning and I explained it to him better than I did previously. And he was like, “Oh, yeah, I see what you’re saying, kind of like a Playboy After Dark thing.” And I was like, “Yeah, but more like a real party in a real apartment.” So, we went to HBO and said this is the direction we want to go in, and they were like, let’s see. 

DB: Is there a conversation from one of those party scenes that stands out in your memory as changing your mind about something? Because I know a big part of the show is presenting different points of view. Was there a time where you left thinking about something differently? 

SJ: Yeah, I feel like every episode I left a little different. It wasn’t necessarily from the party, but the exploration of the topic in its entirety. I feel like every single one of them I left with some more perspective. 

PauseWithSamJay-pic-300x147DB: What about plans for Season 3? Does it seem like it’s going to happen? 

SJ: No, Pause isn’t coming back. We’re done. 

DB: You found that out for sure? 

SJ: Yeah, I know that for sure. 

DB: Was that your decision? Was it disappointing? 

SJ: No, it wasn’t my decision. It was kind of disappointing, but I was also drained. It was a draining show, because it was very personal. So I was feeling a little spent from it, to be honest. And I was going to take a year off anyway. I had vocalized that I wanted to do that, because I just felt like I needed to re-up my energy on it and have something to say. And, I don’t know, I feel like this is the industry we’re in. You’re not really in control of that part of it. You can only make the thing you believe in and put it out there and hope people take to it and hope the network gets it, and it all works out. And it may or may not. So, I don’t get overly attached to stuff. I’m glad I got to do it, and I feel really good and proud of the thing that I made. And I’m very proud of everybody that worked on the show and put their blood and sweat and tears into making something that was super challenging. I really think we pulled off something cool. I think it was a little ahead of its time and people will look back on it and be like, “Wow, that was a really cool thing that was happening right there.” And that’s good enough for me. I’m on to other things and exploring other ideas and creating other stuff, which is all I want the ability to do, is to just keep making things. So, I’m in a good place. 

So, there you are. Hey, if I had known going into this series that it was kind of a deconstructed talk show I may have watched it past its first episode and paid closer attention. Oh well, I’m sure it will sit as a curated series for a spell on HBO Max before getting ejected to Tubi.

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