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Column: Jane Lynch’s party politics are more party than politics


Jane Lynchadmits that her high school grammar teacher, Mrs. Sumpter, would not have been happy with the latest title on her extensive résumé — mayor of Funner, California.

“I don’t know if it’s a word,” muses Lynch. “It’s in the grammatical gray department.” But the former co-star of “Glee” is embracing the word Funner as she recalls her opinionated teacher at Thornridge High School in Dolton, Ill.

“She would not let you use the word n-i-c-e — ‘Get off the fence and tell me what you really think. Things aren’t nice.’”

But, then again, in this case, Funner, isn’t an adjective, it’s a place. It’s the name created for the 30-acre site of Harrah’s Resort SoCal on the Rincon Band of the Luiseño Indians reservation, east of Valley Center.

Lynch was inaugurated in mid-May as Funner’s third mayor since May 2017 — preceded by actor/mayors Rob Riggle and David Hasselhoff.

Jane Lynch gave her inaugural speech in mid-May in her role as “mayor” of Funner on San Diego County’s Rincon reservation.

(Courtesy of Harrah’s Resort SoCal)

“See Jane Run” did not apply in this election. “We pretend I was elected, but I was appointed,” admits the “tell-me-what-you-really-think” schooled actress and comedian.

For the next year, she will be the new face — and voice — of Funner. Guests can dial into a hotel phone hotline and Lynch’s voice will direct them to various spots on the property. Riggle added tips and bedtime stories to the hotline when he was mayor.

“I did, too, and they are probably a little better,” deadpans Lynch.

In January, she shot four days of commercials and short videos throughout the resort. “There are several different Janes. There’s Spa Jane, Casino Jane, Concierge Jane. … I wore a lot of purple outfits,” she laughs.

It was a positive experience, except for one positive that was a negative — her positive test for COVID-19. “I think I got infected on the first day. The last day I got sick. Anyway, it wasn’t their fault. I probably got it even before I got down to San Diego.

“I had one morning of not feeling well and that was it. I was double vaxxed and boosted at that point,” she says. Then she focuses on the positive: “It was nice to get it (COVID-19) out of the way.”

Lynch is putting her stamp on Funner. Whereas Riggle was regal and royal, she bills herself as a mayor of the people. Her party is not a political one but a fun one — a people party.

Harrah’s SoCal already is operating just fine, she says. Her job is to put a bright sunshiney smile on it.

When it comes to her town motto, Lynch pauses: “Let me think,” then promptly ad-libs: “‘In fun we trust,’ then the subscript: ‘I’m Walking on Sunshine’” — her inaugural theme song.

The resort’s spokeswoman, Dorie Pagnano, outlines a few changes in the works. The newly elected mayor doesn’t drink alcoholic beverages, so the resort is introducing an array of mocktails, including: The Funner Fizzer, Power Suit Thyme and A Toast to Major Jane.

Also, Lynch is vegan, so the resort is beefing up, pardon the pun, its vegan menu offerings.

The new mayor’s smiling face has been added to some casino playing cards, and a regal portrait of Lynch holding a falcon named Floyd presides over the mayoral suite. (Her high school’s mascot is Wing Ding the Mighty Falcon.)

There is one place where she’ll always be hands on — in the spa with two new treatments: a Funner State of Mind Massage and a Fun, Fun, Fun Facial.

While the mayor can visit only occasionally, she says her trusty falcon, Floyd, will be her eyes on the ground when she is elsewhere.

After all, she does have another life in New York City. Lynch is co-starring as Fanny Brice’s mother in the Broadway musical revival of “Funny Girl.” So she transforms from Funner girl on the West Coast to Funny Girl on the East Coast, and back.

With pandemic restrictions loosening, she’s also revving up her cabaret performances of “Two Lost Souls” with Kate Flannery and the Orange County-based Tony Guerrero Quintet.

They also perform a seasonal “A Swingin’ Little Christmas” show and recorded an album by that name of old-fashioned holiday standards of the late ‘50s and ‘60s.

“Our first cabaret show was in San Diego in the Gaslamp,” recalls Lynch. That was shortly after “Glee” concluded in 2015 and before she took on the role of standup comic Sophie Lennon in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” streaming on Amazon Prime.

“It’s a beautiful drive,” she says of her trips to San Diego from her home in Santa Barbara.

She probably won’t have much time for cabaret or her local mayoral duties, however, until “Funny Girl” wraps up in late September.

Plus, another season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is on the calendar. “I love playing Sophie Lennon. I love her insecurities and her arrogance and the tenderness that’s just below all the insecurity — the little girl in the body of a 60-year-old.”

As for the future, Lynch is hopeful there will be more “Weakest Links,” the TV quiz show she emcees. “We’re looking into that,” she says.

Despite her full schedule, Lynch is open to the idea of serving a second term as mayor: “We’ll see what happens if I do a good job.”





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