Jordan Roth has known what he wanted to do since he was a kid. There wasn’t one specific moment that sparked the lifelong interest, but rather an appreciation that grew over time. For the Canadian native, his passion for film and television and the world of entertainment was innate, unquestioned, and never in doubt.
“As a kid I developed a reverence for TV comedy. I consumed it. I watched every Seinfeld episode and taped all of them onto VHS. I was really into late night TV. Before we were old enough to stay up, my dad would tape Saturday Night Live for us. I think as a kid I loved the idea of show business and its history. But, even more so, I loved the craft of comedy. I wanted to understand jokes and timing. And, really, I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to contribute to what I saw as a kind of comedy cannon,” said Roth.
That childhood passion has turned into an esteemed career for Roth, an internationally in-demand producer and writer. Known for his work on documentary series and films like True New York, How to Build… Everything, C-Rock, and more, Roth knows how to captivate an audience, and with his work on some of his more recent projects, he also knows how to make them laugh.
“Working with Jordan is a dream! He’s funny and kind but also incredibly passionate and detail-oriented and has one of the widest bandwidths I’ve ever encountered on a person. We are in constant contact, and I know I can trust him to get everything done that he commits to getting done, which is a lot,” said Caroline Kingsley, who works with Roth on her late-night show at Caveat Theater in New York City, The Violet Hour. “I think Jordan’s rare combination of empathy and kindness and his fiery focus allows him to help any project he works on flourish and also keep its integrity and sweetness. He never stops working but also never stops being a good, well-rounded human, which makes all of his projects technically excellent, but also filled with heart.”
In addition to his work with The Violet Hour, Roth is currently working with the immensely popular multimedia platform Vice. Streamed all over the world, VICE Digital’s team strives to capture the people at the heart of stories, and focus on the ideas, issues, and context that other outlets miss. Roth met with their team over the years to discuss a new creative opportunity for the writer/producer with a unique background both in comedy and producing documentaries. Now, he is coming on to make a short form comedy and entertainment series for the outlet.
“Generally, I like the stuff that Vice has made over the years. There’s a huge variety of material at Vice — news, docs, travel, weird talk series. They’re going through a period of change and in the digital end there’s a lot of opportunity to make new stuff and that really appeals to me. It’s exciting to be able to come in and be tasked with coming up with new, weird ideas, creating a series and then running a show,” he said.
Roth has an expansive role with Vice Digital. He has been tasked with producing and building up some existing short-form series and then also coming up with new ideas and series. He is therefore producing and working with Vice hosts, and then also bringing in new talent and coming up with some fresh, weird, funny concepts to take to series. Those series could be more documentary style, or they could also be talk-based.
“It’s early days, but I like the freedom and I like that I’ll be getting more of that creative space to make what I want to make. There’s generally a sense of experimentation that’s really cool and rare,” said Roth.
The series Roth is currently working on is set to premiere on Vice Digital in April. He has a lot on the go, between Vice and The Violet Hour, but he loves what he does and never grows tired of it. It took a lot of hard work and determination for him to reach the status he now holds in the industry, and for those looking to follow in his footsteps, he offers some thoughtful advice.
“I’d say to just make stuff. If you want to make movies, then you can probably start making your own right now. That’s not really novel advice, but I think it’s true. I’d also say, it’s hard but there are real ways you can find success and be happy. It’s not necessarily pie-in-the-sky thinking to say you want to work in show business,” he advised.
Head to Vice Digitalto check out their content and eagerly await Roth’s upcoming series.
Photo of Caroline Kingsley (left) and Jordan Roth (right) on “The Violet Hour” by Arin Sang-urai