As an author, comedian, Emmy nominated producer, mom, wife, and star of Bravo’s “Flipping Out,” Jenni Pulos is one perpetually busy gal. Her latest venture has her promoting the What the Flush campaign, which encourages homeowners to replace their existing toilets with a brand new, conservation-friendly model developed by Niagara Conservation. Examiner chatted with Pulos about the campaign during an exclusive April 1 interview which also saw her reflect on a number of additional topics, including her favorite TV shows and which comedians –past and present– inspire her the most.
Sherry Wight: You’re something of a Jill of many trades so there are a lot of questions I could ask you, but the thing that stood out to me personally was your book, “Grin and Bear It: How to Be Happy No Matter What Reality Throws Your Way.” I read some of your history; what made you decide to make lemonade from those particular lemons?
Jenni Pulos: Great question. I never intended to write a book and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, to go back and tell my personal story and practically all my failures. But I think it’s resonated with a lot of people. I wanted people to realize that failing isn’t such a bad thing; it actually can lead you to the great successes in your life…. I [also wanted to encourage people that even though] your life may go a little bit different than you had seen it, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to get back to where you wanted to be.
SW: We probably know you best from “Flipping Out” on Bravo. Pick your favorite episode ever, and tell me why it has favored child status.
JP: The episode my child was born [laughs]. I know that that’s all mushy, gushy, but that. And obviously it was wonderful to see my wedding and the love of my life [with] my family there. But there are so many moments with Jeff [Lewis] and I, when we’re being silly and crazy. And when Zoila tried to poison him with bad bacon, that’s always a favorite for me. I had to take over the job site because he was in bed and she was laughing, saying maybe she tried to kill him.
SW: What kinds of things inspire your creativity?
JP: You know, I think where I really get inspired is [by] trying to get as interested as I can in other things. I spent a lot of time [self-involved], thinking “Oh, I have to perform and I have to create,” [but] I think to be a great artist in any sense, you have to be interested in other people, interested [in things] outside yourself. So that’s something I’ve been learning about and trying to expand on. The co-author of my book, Kathleen King, I’ve worked with her a long time, and she’s helped me so much in teaching me about what’s important.
SW: When you’re on the show, you’ve faced lots of different disasters, but let’s talk about water-related mishaps. I’m a Californian so I know a thing or two about saving water, but you must’ve learned quite a bit from your experiences.
JP: Yes. We’ve seen many a water leak [that’s led to flooding]. [Right now I’m partnering with Niagara Conservation to promote] this stealth toilet they’ve come out with that’s incredible. Not only does it look good, but it’s using less than a gallon of water per flush. So you’re saving up to 20,000 gallons of water per household by installing this toilet, which… is only $149… and really works. It’s a great product. I stand behind it…. It’s the mac daddy of toilets.
SW: I love it! Makes me wish I hadn’t already replaced all of my toilets recently. Okay, I have a couple of quick, simple questions to close it out.
SW: Okay. Excluding your own shows, what is the best show on TV right now?
JP: Ooh, that’s a great question… I don’t know if I could just answer that with one, you know?
SW: Okay! You can have two.
JP: Okay. I have enjoyed “Scandal,” I have to say, and “Empire.” As far as reality TV, I obviously watch Bravo… all of Bravo, but primarily the “Housewives.” And then I like “Downton Abbey,” I think that’s an incredible show. There’s just so much interesting programming out there.
SW: Last one: the comedian whose career inspired you the most.
JP: Oh wow, nice question. Andy Kaufman is up there for me. There’ve been so many. Lucille Ball was incredible, and there are so many great women in comedy right now. It’s a really exciting time for women in film and television, so of course I’m going to rattle off Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig. They’re all strong, incredible women who are writing, directing, commanding. So I would say that I have a lot of love for many different artists out there, and I think appreciating it is what makes you a great artist.