Comedian Big Jay Oakerson talks crowd work and New NBC online show.
I interviewed Big Jay Oakerson. I interviewed Big Jay Oakerson in my car while stuck in traffic on the way to see Big Jay Oakerson and he was totally cool about it.
Let me explain
Sunday, October 18th the much anticipated Oddball Festival took Place at the Gexa Energy Pavilion- which fun fact is connected to Fair Park where the last day of the Texas state fair was happening. This day will forever be known as The great parking war of 2015. The power struggle of hipsters in hybrid cars and Moms in minivans came to an end around 5 pm as the fair officially ended and the Festival began.
Oddball, now in its 3rd year boasted some big-name headliners on the main stage, but did not disappoint on the side stage presentation. Along with a line-up of Texas-bred comics with big futures including Josh Johnson, who’s stand up album Tabitha is the thing you what to hear about before everyone else does, Jay Whitecotton, Kerry Smith and closing out the show was Local headliner Brad LaCour who you can Wed Oct 21st at Twilight lounge. But it wouldn’t be a show focused on the next big things in stand up without having the biggest big thing Host it; Big Jay Oakerson.
I walked up just in time to become an immediate target for some crowd work, I’ll admit I was kind of asking for it when I woo’d, (Everybody hates a woo girl) but his crowd work was equally parts crazy vulgar and hilarious. I managed quick picture between sets and Big Jay Oakerson is exactly what his name implies, a large individual in stature and personality he commands the stage with a laid back demeanor that doesn’t even feel like he’s trying. A great orator, Oakerson makes well-crafted jokes sound like he’s just chilling with old friends. After his opening set Oakerson kept the crowd energetic and amped them up for the next performers, in one of my favorite bit’s Oakerson declares male and female friendship “impossible” I won’t spoil the bit by repeating it, but Oakerson takes a premise that could be considered “hack” and runs so far with it, taking the crowd on such a funny perverse journey, that you can’t be offended because you know he can’t be serious .
If you haven’t heard of BJO (Jay, if you’re reading this I’m sorry, I can’t help the urge to shorten your name because it sounds like a delicious breakfast platter) It’s because he’s in that sweet-spot of his career where comedy obsessives recognize his rising star and the rest of the world is quickly catching on to it . Oakerson a Philly native, lives in New York and has been doing for years but like with many other “Over night successes” when NBC Launches their Netflix like streaming service SEESO and the totally improvised comedy series “What’s your F*@#ing deal” becomes a hit, it will feel like he came out nowhere.
Watching the crowd watch Jay is like a case study in human behavior, the crowd goes from shocked to hysterically laughing in seconds and hangs on his every word. Listening to Jay on spottily and catching his set at Oddball meant seeing him touch on just about anything that could offend a person, I asked if he consider any topic off limits. “No, not at all you can talk about anything as long as it’s funny” he states firmly. “as long as you have the intention to make people laugh there’s no limit.
in the world where jokes are constantly taken out of context and new exposure to discrimination and shared experiences has a shift in cultural sensitivity it’s easy for jokes to be misconstrued especially online. Oakerson weighed in on the topic
“Social media isn’t all bad it’s is great for promotion it’s great for working out ideas, but it’s created an over saturation in comedy… a lot of people think they’re comics because they have twitter”
Comedy is a growing and changing medium and to stand out you have to adapt to it. In an effort to mix things up Big Jay Oakerson released The Crowd Work Sessions- What’s your f*@#king deal, his affectionately titled second album released in 2014.
Oakerson relishes in crowd work when I asked about his choice to do an all crowd work album, his voice perked up ” I love crowd work, I chose to do that kind of album because every set is completely different… at first my intention was to break up the routine of what comics are used to seeing, in New York- in that scene everybody knows everybody and you know everyone’s stuff, you look out and you can see like guys mouthing the words of your set, I wanted to break that up.” I went on to ask if he does the same kind of crowd work at huge festivals as he does in more traditional comedy settings, “of course that’s the most fun” he replied confidently, and assured me he would
At the Redd’s Apple Ale Side Stage Oakerson delivered on that promise; seamlessly jumping from planned bits to hilarious crowd work that was jaw-droppingly funny and teetered the line between embarrassing and entertaining the more prudish crowd members. If a joke seemed like it had gone too far he didn’t shy away from it, no he just repeated a slew of the most unsavory phrases until our defenses were down and we had to laugh.
Big Jay Oakerson or Jay as he probably has everyone call him has a very “Live in the now” approach to stand up.
I closed our interview with one of my favorite questions to ask established comedians, “If you could give your former self any advice about Comedy in particular; what would it be” It’s a vague question but as an aspiring sometimes working Dallas Comedian I love to benefit from the introspection of others.
Jay paused for a moment and marinated on the question “Wow.. any advice? I’d say to Enjoy the process, the writing, the mics.. I’d say this applies to anyone, enjoy what’s getting you there and helping you get better.”
You can see Big Jay Oakerson on NBC Universal’s new online streaming show on SEE SO , and watch him Comedy Central. Listen for Jay on the Legion of Skanks podcast on I-tunes and on Comedy Central Radio XM 95 Mon and Wed at 5 pm.
Check out Big Jay and buy his album (yes, I said buy it with money it’s that good) at http://chentertainment.com/bigjay/