Today’s comedians are so excited to release their first album and special that they forget to actually have experiences to fill those things. They rush to the goal with neither solid jokes nor a sense of who they can be on stage. We can blame the influx of specials on Netflix for that.
Jay Larson has been around for some time. However, his comedic stardom exploded like some current comedians. In 2001, he was propelled past the open mic life right into the club circuit. Even still, he took his time on releasing a big project. Me Being Me – Larson’s biggest release since his albums – comes to us after almost two decades worth of work.
I recently had an email correspondence with Larson to talk about the special and how his acting and writing add to his on stage work.
You’ve been in comedy for as long as I can remember. What prompted you to put out Me Being Me as your first filmed special?
Jay Larson: I felt it was time. I had done two albums and was ready for a third. But I felt that it should be bigger and I really wanted to paint the picture as completely and honestly as I could. And I thought I should shoot this thing. So I got a budget together and did just that.
Each one of your jokes utilizes your longform storytelling technique. Your 2013 Conan set is one that stands out because it’s a giant, slow burn that pays off more than once. And a good chunk of your special is dedicated to you saying your wife isn’t the one. When you first began in comedy, did you instantly gravitate towards this style of joke telling?
Larson: I grew up in an Irish Catholic household outside of Boston. I was the youngest of four in a single parent home with 4 Great Aunts, EVERYONE tells stories! So I was learning story telling from as early as I could remember. I think it's a fun way to get let people know about you.
I also enjoy your take on familial relationships. How have your kids influenced your standup?
Larson: Well, when I was in 5th grade I had boys and girls names for what I was going to name my kids written down in the back of my notebook so this has been a dream of mine. I had a plan for how I was going to raise my kids my whole life so to be able to have a family is the best thing that's ever happened to me. Stand up for me is living my life to the fullest and then putting that up on stage, and my kids are now a part of that life.
Did standup prepare you for the acting roles you’ve landed in Twin Peaks and The Invitation?
Larson: I really couldn't tell you. I was waaaaaaaay over my head in The Invitation and it wasn't till the third day that I settled in and thought, "You got this". Acting is just another form of story telling except you're telling someone else's story. It's different and you need to settle into a person that is different from yourself which is nothing like stand up. I really learned a lot from just watching the other actors around me who were amazing by the way!!!
Please tell me about writing for NBA 2K18. No one I’ve ever spoken to has done anything tangentially related to video game development.
Larson: As a kid I played sports 24/7. There was no internet so I would read box scores every day in the paper. I've always been a sports head. This opportunity came up and I knew a lot about basketball and sports in general so it was a great fit. Video games are so advanced now. In this game you can get haircuts, tattoos, sign sponsorship deals, etc. So I wrote, along with two other super talented writers all of those scenes. It was really cool and the game is amazing!
How do your multitude of other projects and works contribute to your onstage career?
Larson: My mom had so many interests in the arts. As a kid, we had to play an instrument, play sports and participate in boy scouts and girls scouts. And I am still that way. For me, being a stand up isn't a job it literally is my life. Everything I do contributes to stand up. You need to always be involved, trying new things and participating in life in order to have new material. It's a really cool medium and I love it.