When Jay Mohr performs Friday and Saturday at Spokane Comedy Club, the veteran actor will draw from his dramatic personal life. Mohr, 51, will detail his path from addiction, intervention and recovery and riff about being the father of two boys.
The “Saturday Night Live” alumnus, star of the late great show “Action,” radio host and bestselling author will deliver impressions of icons such as Tracy Morgan, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken.
Mohr called from his Los Angeles home to detail what he would have changed during his “SNL” run. The New Jersey native reveals what it was like to co-star with Jennifer Aniston in “Pitch Perfect” and what comedic actor legend Dean Martin, Bob Newhart and Buddy Hackett despised.
You’ve always been a straight shooter. In your book, you name names. During prior interviews, you’ve been open, but many of your peers are afraid to offend.
I don’t understand that. Some of these people won’t say anything during interviews, but on their social media, they’ll say racist and homophobic things.
Iconic comics like George Carlin couldn’t help but reveal how they felt during interviews and stand-up.
Carlin was one of those guys who crossed the line but was always on the right side of things. Carlin was always on the side of justice.
Well, not always. When I interviewed him when the Beltway Sniper was terrorizing the Washington, D.C., area 20 years ago, I asked him what he wanted to see happen. Carlin said he hoped the killer or killers would take a six-month break and travel to San Francisco to pick off more people, and then stop and take a six-month break and kill more people elsewhere just to (mess) with the police.
OK, maybe he wasn’t always on the side of justice. But Carlin was fascinating.
Carlin was the Beatles of comedy.
I agree. He was Paul McCartney and Richard Pryor was John Lennon. With Carlin, you could teach college courses, like ethics and philosophy, based on his stand-up.
Your book “Gasping for Air Time: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live,” was a tell-all, and when I interviewed you about it a few years ago, you noted that during your “Saturday Night Live” stint, your job every week was to wave at the crowd at the end of the show.
The book was a big boo-hoo! I was the cause of my own problems. I was urged to go to the writers and do my impressions for them. I was offended and felt like a door-to-door salesman. But how could they have known what I could do? When I look back on my “SNL” experience now, I wasn’t ready for it. It was one of the greatest things to happen in my life, but I wasn’t a good team player. I’m a narcissistic comic.
You’re not such a bad guy. The late comic Ralphie May told me when he was a struggling L.A. comic that you helped him after you discovered him walking to his gigs. “Jay has a big heart,” May said.
It wasn’t that big of a deal. Ralphie was struggling at the time, and he was really funny. Ralphie deserved to be heard, and I helped him.
Your show “Action” was hilarious, but it was so inside and clever that it failed to connect with the mainstream.
I was just telling my girlfriend about it. She never saw it. I got to work with Buddy Hackett every day. When I arrived to sit shiva for Buddy Hackett, Bob Newhart came jogging out of the house to my car and said, “Jay, thank God you’re here. I thought I would have to spend the entire afternoon with Harvey Korman.”
So Bob stayed with me the whole time. I remember one time Buddy, Bob and Dean Martin were going to play golf, and Harvey Korman said he would play with them, and Dean said, “Sorry, we already have three.” They hated Korman.
Didn’t your “Pitch Perfect” co-star Jennifer Aniston hate you?
She didn’t want me for the (co-starring) role. I remember Billy Baldwin, Jon Stewart and her boyfriend at the time, Tate Donovan, tested for the part, but I got it. I remember standing around with Illeana Douglas, and Jennifer Aniston walks by and says, “They have five guys in for a screen test, and the guy I didn’t want gets the job.” Illeana just said, “You’re going to have a great summer.”
What are you going to talk about when you come to Spokane?
I’ll talk about my life. I was in rehab last year for an Adderall addiction, but I’ve been off it for 11 months and two weeks. I’m a better comic since I’ve gotten clean. I’ve been an addict my whole life. I was drinking since 1998. I wanted to be the director of my own life, and I’m finally there. I’m also going to be doing impressions – Clint Eastwood, Chris Farley and Christopher Walken. I remember doing Christopher Walken for Christopher Walken when I was on “SNL,” and he thought I was making fun of him. I felt like a dog with his tail between his legs when I explained how much I loved how he speaks.
But I love doing the impressions. That’s 15-20 minutes of my show. I’m thrilled to be doing this because a year ago, I was out of show business. It got to the point in which I had to think about getting a real job, and all I’ve ever done for work is talk. What regular job could I do? But I’m fortunate since I’m bouncing back, and I’m happy to do it in Spokane because those audiences want their money’s worth, and that’s what I’ll give them.
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