Let me begin by saying that there are plenty of comedians out there that are fairly unknown that should be heard by millions because of how good they are. (see David Crowe, Robert Hawkins, Nick Griffin, etc.) My point above is I was thinking about the career path of Jay Mohr and was pretty knocked out by his resume. He was on SNL in his early 20’s, which he wrote about in his great book, Gasping for Airtime. Not long after this he played the immortal sports agent, Bob Sugar, in Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire. He then played opposite Jennifer Aniston in a rom-com called Picture Perfect. Around this same time Jay had great parts in more serious movies like Suicide Kings and Go. He starred in one of the great TV shows of the 90’s, Action, which I swear if it would have been on FX or HBO would have been a show still talked about. This was all during the 90’s.
The next decade had him hosting the only sports/entertainment talkshow ever on ESPN. He was the creator and host of Last Comic Standing, which helped more standups than anything else during my time in comedy. He was a regular on the tv show the Ghost Whisperer, which was weird when I would see him on it. And more recently he was the star of his own sitcom, Gary Unmarried, which was underrated. Besides these TV and Movie appearances, he is remarkable filling in as host of the Jim Rome show, demonstrating his Adam Carolla-like ability to rant on anything, with amazing comedy free-styling.
I haven’t even gotten into his standup. I was hired by a NFL team one year to perform for their corporate clients at the Super Bowl in Houston. I knew Barry Katz, who is Jay’s long-time manager, through my friendship with Frank Caliendo, so I contacted Barry if he could get me a ticket to a show Jay was doing at the Houston Improv that week. Now I had heard the clubtalk that Jay did some other comics material, but I can tell you that night he was completely original, telling some great stories. Where he really doesn’t get his due is that Jay is an amazing impressionist. I’ve only seen 3 other comics on his level of mixing impressions with their standup and being able to riff with these voices instead of just coming off like a tribute act. Jim Carrey (old days), Robin Williams, and Frank Caliendo. So Jay is great and what I found even more amazing is that his opening act was this dude named Bert Kreischer. Now if you have never seen Bert (and you should), he’s an amazing comedy machine. Just about the most likeable guy I’ve ever seen on-stage, but totally hilarious at the same time. I like to follow great feature acts and always try to bring high-quality acts when I’m allowed, but I promise you I would never want to follow someone like Kreischer because he is comedy dynamo. Van Halen used to always book shitty opening acts to make themselves look better—well Jay Mohr is so freaking confident that he doesn’t seem to care.
What brought me to think more about Jay Mohr’s accomplishments was listening to his new podcast, Mohrstories. It is an awesome podcast and should be heard by all standups. The episodes with Barry Katz are especially great. The story about Tracy Morgan firing Barry is priceless and so is Jay’s description of Jennifer Aniston’s initial hatred of him when they first met on the set. I think Marc Maron does a great podcast to learn more about standup, but right out of the gate Jay Mohr is bringing the noize. That is my comedy tip of the week. Check his podcast out.
Authors Note: The only time I’ve ever met Jay Mohr was in the green room after the show that night in Houston. I’m positive he wouldn’t have any idea of who I am or ever meeting me. I’ve had a couple meetings with Barry Katz at which he shook his head a lot not figuring out why I wasn’t willing to invest in my entertainment career enough to move to LA or NY. As I have written about one of those encounters, I couldn’t refute Katz’s point, except that I never wanted to be a TV star (and don’t think I have the type of tunnelvision/self-absorption to become one), plus I knew my family life would be way better staying in the Midwest. The Fly-Over Comedy Blog is all about discussing how you don’t have to live on the coasts to be funny or talented. I’ve been touring the country headlining for years, have released 2 DVD’s and a CD, done 100’s of radio shows, self-published a book, written for FOX the past 9 years including sketches for the multiple Super Bowls, etc. (OK, maybe I am self-absorbed enough) I mention my accomplishments to show comics you can do stuff based in the Midwest, but I look at Jay Mohr’s career and realize I’ve done nothing in comparison on the entertainment map. I wanted to add this prologue, in case you thought I was in the pocket of Jay Mohr. Don’t know the guy, but I think he’s pretty amazing and is not given his due as a super talented comic and performer. Really, listen to his podcast. He talks over people too much, but even when he does, what he’s saying is usually pretty hilarious.