Don't be alarmed if the doctors of General Hospital suddenly disappear. Since the debut of GH Now, we imagine they're running around trying to cure side aches in people who've been laughing too much. But hey, that's just what happens when the creative genius of Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis Davis) comes to life in the form of a GH counterpart that has left thousands in stitches.
"I've been in the soap world for 30 years, and there's plenty to laugh about," Grahn tells Soap Central of what prompted her to create the buzzed-about series that features hilarious sketches, special guests, and commentary mostly revolving around all things Port Charles. "If you don't have a sense of humor in this medium, it's going to be a rough ride. We're all grownups here, we all know what the genre is, and it's the things that people love about this genre. There's a lot that we can have fun with. We're not curing cancer. This is entertainment, and so this is just an extension of what we're doing, and it's a different way that we all get to play and be seen."
Reviews of the show have been great thus far. Fans have enjoyed humorous segments like learning the art of crying on cue, comedic "commercials," and dating advice for GH characters -- all of which feature GH actors as well as comedians Sarah Colonna, Jimmy Pardo, Jen Kober, Jackie Kashian, and Kristina Wong. And speaking of the aforementioned funny faces, Grahn says all of them are GH fans, which is why she asked them to be involved.
"I was a fan of Sarah's from Chelsea Lately, and we became friends, because she's a huge General Hospital person. She was like, 'Oh my God, I'm talking to Alexis,' and I was like, 'Oh, my God, I'm talking to Sarah Colonna!'" she says with a laugh. "And then I ran into someone else who said, 'You know, Jimmy Pardo is a huge fan of General Hospital,' and so is Jen Cober, Jackie Kashian, Kristina... So it's a standup world, and I thought it would be fun to bring that world and mix it with soap operas. It makes a good combination."
Is seems that putting the team together happened quite seamlessly, though the evolution of what the show became wasn't exactly what Grahn had envisioned. "I am very happy [with the finished product]; we've never done anything like this before, and there wasn't a template for it," she begins. "There was no format to follow, and [I am happy about] the fact that it came off rather seamlessly considering, like I said, that we had no template. Do I think we could improve on it? For sure. But I'm always going to think that, and I hope we get the chance to do it, because I would really like to. I think now that we have an idea of how this works, we can really go further with it."
The first three episodes of GH Now premiered this month, and the next three will premiere on Monday, February 2. Grahn teases that William deVry (Julian Jerome) will be included in future batches, as will a few other surprises including possible appearances by actors from the other three soap operas.
"There are very few boundaries here," Grahn explains, adding that ABC has been very supportive of the show. "The work is really allowing us to extend our normal boundaries about how we appear, and they're letting us have fun with it. They're being very supportive, and I think they're saying that they're getting a very positive reaction to it. And here's the thing, it's really very simple: there was no deep thinking about this. I mean, yes, we had lots of meetings, and we had lots of other material, and we would pick and choose according to what the demo wanted and what ABC wanted and what ABC digital wanted. We had those meetings. But there was never any, 'Oh, I don't like this.' It was really done with joy, every meeting... It wasn't laborious at all. It wasn't people fighting with each other like things normally are when you're creating something. It was really just fun."
The next step, she says, is to grow the audience so the show can continue. "We have so many more ideas, so our goal now is to just get as many people watching this as possible and we get to keep playing, because this is a fun game," she explains. "I love my day job, but this is sort of the dream. I get to flex different muscles and be part of the creative process, which I'm not with the show, and that's sometimes really frustrating for me -- which it is for anyone. Because I'm at the point in my life where I think I have some reasonably good ideas. I want to do something where I can use my sense of humor, and I also want to be part of a creative process. I want to be heard. As the actor, that's really not part of the job description, being heard. And I'm not blaming. I'm just saying that's the way it is. When you're an actor, you get a script, and your job is to act it. It's not to give your opinion about what you think, about how the story should go or anything like that."
She continues, "That is what I've been doing, and believe me, it has paid for my house, my child, her college, everything, so I'm very grateful [for it]. And it's a skill I have and will do until I'm too old to do it anymore. But being able to be part of the creative process and work with people that I really respect and to be heard is the extension of being on General Hospital. This just makes my life complete. I feel very fulfilled right now on all cylinders."
Watch the first three episodes of GH Now right here at Soap Central, and to catch the premiere of the next three episodes, be sure to visit ABC.com on Monday, February 2.
What are your thoughts about GH Now? What would you like to see Grahn tackle on future episodes? And which other soap stars would you love to see included on the show? Share your thoughts in our Comments section below, on our message boards, or by submitting Feedback.