Jena Friedman
Friedman performing Nerdmelt Theater in Los Angeles, January 2017
BornHaddonfield, New Jersey
MediumStand up, writer, director
GenresDark comedy

Jena Friedman is an American comedian and writer. She is the host of the comedic true-crime series Indefensible[1] on AMC+. She has been a field producer[2] at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and has written for Late Show with David Letterman.[3] She is the creator of Soft Focus with Jena Friedman for Adult Swim, the first installment of which premiered in February 2018.[4]

Early life

Friedman was born in Haddonfield, New Jersey. She studied anthropology at Northwestern University. After graduation, she worked as a healthcare consultant for consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.[5]


She has appeared in the Sundance hit movie Palm Springs, and on TV shows such as Conan, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,[6] The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore,[7] National Geographic Explorer,[8] MSNBC,[9] and The BBC.[citation needed] She has also been a contributing writer to The New Yorker.[10]

In 2007, she wrote The Refugee Girls Revue, a satire inspired by American Girl dolls. The play earned critical acclaim in the 2008 New York International Fringe Festival[11] and had a successful run Off-Broadway. In 2010, she received a cease-and-desist letter from The New York Times for parodying their wedding videos. The parody, titled Ted and Gracie, has since become a popular web series.

In 2015, Friedman's solo show American Cunt premiered in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to critical acclaim.[12][13][14] The magazine Paste named American Cunt one of the 10 Best Stand Up Comedy Specials of 2016.[15] She created Soft Focus with Jena Friedman, a series of Adult Swim specials that she also co-executive produces, directs, and hosts. The specials include interviews with John McAfee, the American software entrepreneur and Presidential hopeful,[16][17] as well as Gilberto Valle, a New York City police officer who was convicted of a conspiracy to kidnap, cook, and eat women, better known as the "Cannibal Cop".[18][19] The second installment premiered in January 2019.

In 2020, Friedman contributed to the screenplay of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, earning her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.[20][21] She directed and starred in True Crime Story: Indefensible on Sundance TV in 2021.[22][23] Her latest comedy special, Ladykiller, premiered on Peacock in September of 2022.[24][25]

On a May 2023 episode ("EP. 813 — Winkers and Blinkers") of the comedy podcast Comedy Bang! Bang!, Friedman recalled how she was asked to write for the revival of the TV show Roseanne in 2018 after Roseanne Barr had enjoyed a stand-up set by Friedman.[26][27] On the day she was scheduled to start her new job, Barr went on a racist Twitter rant that resulted in the show being swiftly cancelled.[26]


This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (October 2022)


  1. ^ Title in the online table of contents is "A pandemic horoscope for December".


  1. ^ "Jena Friedman's True Crime Story: Indefensible is a jaw-dropping twist on the true crime formula". The Pitch. October 29, 2021. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  2. ^ Irvin, Zuri. "Writing Jokes with Jena Friedman". Medium. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  3. ^ McGlynn, Katla (July 18, 2011). "David Letterman Hires Jena Friedman, 'The Late Show' Gains Second Female Writer". HuffPost. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  4. ^ Kozell, Isaac (February 16, 2018). "Taking a 'Soft Focus' with Jena Friedman". Vulture. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  5. ^ Loughrey, Clarisse (March 15, 2016). "Jena Friedman: The star of 'The Daily Show' on abortion jokes, her Ebola comedy film, and her serial-killer spoof". The Independent. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
  6. ^ Bradley, Laura (November 9, 2016). "The Moment Election Night Stopped Being Funny". Vanity Fair. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  7. ^ "Panel - What's Driving the Hillary Clinton Haters? - The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore". Comedy Central. Archived from the original on December 30, 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  8. ^ Outsourced With Jena Friedman, March 8, 2017, archived from the original on May 19, 2017, retrieved December 12, 2017
  9. ^ "Comedy in the age of Trump". MSNBC. March 5, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  10. ^ Friedman, Jena (January 2, 2017). "A Recipe". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  11. ^ Otto, Emily (August 17, 2008). "The Refugee Girls Revue: A Musical Parody". Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  12. ^ "Comedy review: Jena Friedman – American C*** (From Herald Scotland)". August 23, 2015. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  13. ^ Arsenault, Bridget (September 3, 2015). "7 Comedians from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival You Need to Know About Now". Vanity Fair. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  14. ^ "Jena Friedman - American C*nt - Edinburgh Festival 2015". August 30, 2012. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  15. ^ "The 10 Best Stand-up Comedy Specials of 2016". Paste. December 21, 2016. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  16. ^ Leah, Rachel (January 25, 2019). "Jena Friedman's 'Soft Focus': Dark feminist comedy, aimed at young men". Salon.
  17. ^ "Jena Friedman Talks Her Adult Swim Special, 'Soft Focus with Jena Friedman 2'".
  18. ^ Larimer, Sarah (July 1, 2014). "New York's 'cannibal cop' released after judge overturns 2013 conviction". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  19. ^ Yang, Linda (March 1, 2018). "Jena Friedman Helps the 'Cannibal Cop' Find Love in Her New Show". Retrieved March 3, 2019. ...The show's second segment ... focus on finding love for ... the 'Cannibal Cop.' ... she helps Valle select a lady by asking them questions like, 'How fast do you run?'....
  20. ^ Vilas-Boas, Eric (October 21, 2020). "'Borat Subsequent Moviefilm' Is a Targeted Takedown of America's Worst". Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  21. ^ Tudor, Jim (October 23, 2020). "Review: BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM Ambushes Amazon". Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  22. ^ "SundanceTV Launches True Crime Story Franchise w/Hilarie Burton Morgan, Jena Friedman". AMC Networks. August 5, 2021. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  23. ^ "'True Crime Story: Indefensible' Host Jena Friedman Is Not Trying To Make True Crime Murderporn". Decider. October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  24. ^ "Jena Friedman Sharpens Her Jokes in Ladykiller". Paste. September 28, 2022. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  25. ^ "The Three Questions with Andy Richter #167: Jena Friedman". Earwolf. October 10, 2022. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  26. ^ a b "Winkers and Blinkers". Earwolf. Retrieved October 27, 2023.
  27. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (May 18, 2018). "'Roseanne' Co-Showrunner Whitney Cummings Exits". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 27, 2023.