When it comes to sports broadcasters, few have a wider array of experience than Julie Stewart-Binks. Not only does she have a diverse resume within the journalism world, she’s also tried her hand at comedy as well.
If you follow Stewart-Binks on social media, you know she’s the life of the party wherever she goes and her sense of humor is impossible to miss. On a professional level, she’s shown the versatility to handle a number of roles covering major sports in Canada and the United States.
After a brief hiatus following her leaving Barstool Sports in May 2018, Stewart-Binks is back in a big way, appearing on CBS Sports and SNY and now hosting her own show “Call It a Night” on fubo Sports Network.
We caught up with JSB recently for our “21 Questions” series and asked her about a ton of different subjects: some serious, others much less so. Get ready to go in-depth and know more about her than you ever thought you would.
Below, you’ll find out all about her foray into comedy, her new gig at Fubo, how to spend a day off in NYC and much, much more.
Here we go…
1.) You tweeted the other day that a year ago at this time you were unemployed and had no idea what you were going to end up doing. Can you describe what that felt like one year ago?
JSB: Last year at this time was very difficult for me for many reasons. My grandfather had died of complications from a stroke, and one of my best friends was diagnosed with a Grade 4 Glioblastoma and was given a year to live (he passed away in July), so we did a trip to Roatan, Honduras that was on his bucket list. I was thankful that I had the opportunity to spend time with family and friends who needed me, and I could be fully present without having to run back to work. My feelings of confusion about my career paled in comparison to the prognosis’ my friends and family were dealing with, and it gave me perspective on my situation. It still didn’t solve that I didn’t know what I would do for work, as no doors were opening.
2.) Piggybacking off that: What led you to try out stand-up comedy?
JSB: I enrolled in UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) when I moved to New York to get better at listening and responding when I hosted a morning radio show on Sirius XM. I really enjoyed improv, and in the earlier levels you have to tell a monologue based off a suggestion from the audience (which in turn creates premises for scenes), and I LOVED telling monologues about my life. I had great, weird, highly detailed stories, and many of my classmates told me to try stand-up comedy. At the same time, I was doing instagram stories on weird things I noticed, and I realized I was doing “bits” and each story had a punchline. By the time a friend suggested that I try Caroline’s stand-up class, I thought, this is the door that is opening, so you should walk through it.
3.) Your new show seems like a mix of sports, comedy and just having a good time. How did the concept for it come about and how did you wind up with this gig?
JSB: Back in March, a woman I worked with during the International Champions Cup the summer before approached me and asked if I would want to host a show on FuboTV. I didn’t know much about it, but the idea of hosting a show – and working in general – was something I was very interested in doing after months of riding the pine. It took us many months (which during I started jobs with CBS Sports, SNY, The Athletic), and work from my late manager John Ferriter to really figure out the nature of the show. But, from my first meeting with Pamela Duckworth (Head of Fubo Sports Network), I loved her energy and vision for creating sports content that was fun and comedic and didn’t take itself too seriously. It was exactly what I was looking for.
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New show(s) alert 🚨 beginning Tuesday September 10th on @fubotv I’ll be launching my own sports centric late night style comedy show “Call It a Night” at 7 pm ET that will air Tuesday’s & Thursday’s, as well as my hour-long vodcast “Drinks with Binks” airing Friday’s at 8 pm ET. . I can’t tell you how excited I am for this. It’s everything I’ve wanted. In my time off working last year, before I tried stand up comedy, I imagined THIS. And I thought about it everyday. Learned – through crippling anxiety – how to do stand up comedy, and focused all my energy in this lane. No matter how many emails go unanswered, never give up on your dreams. . None of this would be possible without my INCREDIBLE crew who are SO hardworking and also let their freak flags fly like me: @imdancarroll @themikegange @mikejlockyer @danielle_garnes @todd.hirshenson @duckyny . And finally, to my late manager @johnferriter – without his efforts, none of this would be possible. In the months & weeks leading up to signing this deal, John, having launched The Arsenio Hall Show amongst many other things, told me I “had” to do this, “it’s not everyday you get offered to do your own show.” I will carry him and so many people who have championed me through the ups and downs as I begin this journey! Hopefully we don’t get cancelled before Christmas. . . . #fubotv #fubosports #callitanight #drinkswithbinks #cablecutting #sports #comedy #manifestyolife #suitlife #caniexpensethissuit
4.) You’re from Canada and lived in LA and NYC. If you could take one thing from all of those places, what would it be?
JSB: Physically? I would take the weather from LA, (and the magic of LaLa Land); and from New York I would take the hustle and hardworking nature of every person (and the 4 am last call). And Canada, I’d take the whole country because it’s just so goddamn perfect.
5.) Your go-to drink order? Also, any drink(s) you have discovered recently that is/are now a favorite of yours?
JSB: Always been a tough one for me. I love wine – Sauv Blanc, Rose, but a fan of Whiskey Sours (w/ egg white). Won’t ever turn down a beer (light, non of that IPA BS).
6.) Cat person or dog person and why?
JSB: Dogs for life. Cats are evil.
7.) You were very vocal about rooting for the Raptors during the NBA Playoffs and through their Finals victory. What did it mean to Canada for them to win it all?
JSB: It was more than just a win. It was about demanding respect from the NBA world, and media critics that Canada isn’t just a hockey country. The Raptors have been disrespected for years, and still were even as winners, but they proved that they belong and deserved to win. It was so emotional. It’s been tough living in the US and hearing most media members not give them any credit. It was almost bordering on xenophobic. So the victory tasted that much sweeter when they proved everyone wrong. It had a galvanizing effect on an entire country. It was people in Vancouver and New Brunswick coming together to cheer on one team, it was extremely special and I’ll never forget it.
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What. A. Night. I still can’t believe it. It’s hard to put into words what it felt like to be there to see the Toronto Raptors win the NBA Finals. No one gave this team any respect and it didn’t matter because they won the whole damn thing anyway. I am so proud of my city. I love you, Toronto 🇨🇦❤️🏀swipe through for every emotion. . . . #torontoraptors #thesix #nbafinals #wethechampions #hoops #raptorsfans #wethenorth #istillcantbelieveit #ocanada
8.) You did a podcast with Richard Deitsch a few years ago where you said it was tough to stand out as a blonde in this business. How have you carved out a nice and made a name for yourself?
JSB: Digging up the old files, eh? Everyone is ambitious and trying to make it. How do you separate yourself and do something that no one else is? It’s risky and scary, but the potential payoff could be huge. I’ve tried to show I have a diverse set of skills, so that I’m not pigeon-holed into a specific role. It could payoff or it could fail, but I want to bet on myself. I also know that women have a shelf life on TV, which is a societal construct that isn’t going to change over night, but I want to prove that my personality, brain, and wit, is more important than how I look, because that’s what will transcend time. But, whatever it is, you’ve got to be passionate about it, it’s got to reflect authenticity, if not, you’ll never truly be successful in whatever lane you’ve chosen.
9.) What is your biggest fear that few people know about?
JSB: When I was a kid, I was extremely afraid of everything to do with funerals. Funeral homes, caskets, morgues, cemeteries. I would stay with my grandparents and be scared silly every night they would die. I would hear them cough and be ready to do the Heimlich maneuver. I guess you could say I was obsessed with death. I don’t think anyone is entirely okay with all that stuff, but I was obsessed with it (in a bad way). I’m better now. Having to dissect cadavers in university anatomy class helped me get out of that.
10.) What was the process like from where you were after you left Barstool to where you are today? What did you learn about yourself?
JSB: I guess you could say that I learned about what I wanted from a job. I had time to reflect on why Barstool wasn’t the right place for me. I wanted to make sure whatever I did next was the right move, as the previous one wasn’t meant for me. I feel so much more confident in who I am, especially when it comes to my values and goals, than 18 months ago.
11.) How did you become Alice Cooper’s “No. 1 fan” as you said you were?
JSB: My mom is the original Alice Cooper super fan. My love for him has come from her. When she was younger, she snuck into his dressing room pretending to be a reporter (she actually was a reporter), but went the wrong way and never met him. She said she used to play his music when she was pregnant with me. She took me to his concerts when I was younger and I wasn’t just enchanted by his music, but his flair for theatrics. His concerts are so much more than about music, they tell a story about his character, and “Alice” is not a good guy, which is why he kills himself on stage so many times. It sounds dark, which it is, but it’s also a unique and fascinating way to bring music to life.
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That time I met Alice Cooper and made him grab my neck. Having ridiculous fun with people I admire while being confident in my weird self. 2018, Lets. Go. ✨ . . . #2017 #AliceCooper #WelcomeToMyNightmare #Poison #suchaweirdo #fullycommitted #musthappenagain #iwillfindyou #imnotworthy
12.) Besides your mom, who is a journalist, who are some of the people you’ve relied on for support in this industry?
JSB: There are too many to name. I’ve had some incredible mentors. From my early days to when Peter Mansbridge (CBC, The National) helped me launch my career to now where ESPN’s Trey Wingo, TSN’s David Krikst, and the “Sports Pope” Mike Francesa have all helped me figure out how to navigate the bumps in the road. There’s a few executives at different networks who have been honest and straight up with me on what I do well or what I need to improve on which is difficult to find in this industry.
13.) If you had to live in one city outside of the United States and Canada, where would you go?
JSB: I absolutely loved living in London. I would have stayed after completing my Masters had I felt a career on air would have been feasible. But, when I was doing a work experience with Sky News and Sky Sports they told me I would have to change my accent (to British) if I wanted to be on TV. In the words of one exec: “No one in the UK wants to hear an America (Canadian) talk about Premier League football just like you don’t want to hear a Brit talk about ice hockey.”
14.) What is your ideal way to spend a day off in NYC?
JSB: There is so much to do it’s overwhelming, and on a daily basis you never really do anything outside your routine. I love waking up, going to work out then getting a coffee and walking around the city. I’d probably have a boozy brunch with friends, go to Central Park, a concert, or see a game of some sort. Then finish it up with hitting Boho Karaoke – the best Karaoke spot around.
15.) What is one place you’ve traveled for work that you absolutely no way would have ever gone to otherwise?
JSB: I’ve traveled to so many places for work I would otherwise have never gone. Ames, Iowa… Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Baton Rouge… I’m glad I went to BR because I found a new home in LSU. Sounds strange for a Canadian who went to school in Canada and England to say that, but after doing two CFB games at LSU for ESPN, I was befriended by their staff to work for the college. They took me in as one of their own, and they are now “my school.”
16.) Who is someone you would most like to interview or have as a guest on your new show?
JSB: With the show, I’m going to try to get anyone. You might as well ask. You never know. I’d love to have Jerry Seinfeld on. I’d love to have Ellen on. I’ve always been a fan of Melrose Place, and would love to have literally anyone from that cast. It goes without saying, but definitely Alice Cooper.
17.) What is one thing you’ve done recently that scared you before you did it?
JSB: Stand up comedy. I had crippling anxiety for weeks. I hated every second of how I felt… until I got on stage and did it. I was addicted as soon as my opening joke landed. There is nothing more intoxicating than the feeling of making a room full of strangers laugh.
18.) What would your “last meal” be if you had to choose?
JSB: Fries. All kind. Love me McDonalds and Five Guys fries. But I’m an equal opportunity employer.
19.) How has your work experience over the last year or so changed how you view your career and what you want going forward?
JSB: Introducing comedy into my life – an area I was always interested in and trended toward innately – is something I want to bring with me in sports broadcasting journey. I’ve enjoyed my experiences as a sideline reporter, and miss it at times, but I have really enjoyed looking at sports through a comedic lens. It’s a different prism, and a different layer, and in turn helps me see colors I couldn’t before. Not everything has that angle, but by flexing that muscle it’s almost like doing a crossword puzzle, it helps create different pathways and skills. I think that lends itself to more opportunities in hosting, producing, and being creative. It’s much more work, and it will take reps to get good at writing and thinking comedically, but it feels natural.
20.) What is your go-to karaoke song?
JSB: Great question. Been trending toward “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler, as well as “It’s All Coming Back to Me” by Celine Dion (extremely underrated).
21.) We don’t want you to waste any unheard material, but what is a funny (and clean) joke you can share with us here?
JSB: I had a good one about being a sports broadcaster in my last stand up show, but it’s a little on the blue side… but, here’s the first joke I did in my debut show of “Call It a Night”:
“NBC went back in time for its coverage of the opening game of the NFL season. To celebrate the 100th anniversary, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth wore old school press hats, voice overs adopted a 1920’s newsreel style, and surprisingly Michele Tafoya was allowed out of the house.”
You can read more of our interviews with sports media stars here.