Jay Mohr has spent more than 30 years working as a writer, actor, producer and comedian. He was a cast member on SNL, drew praise for his role in Jerry McGuire and was the first host of Last Comic Standing. Now he is back with a new special, Jay Mohr: American Treasure, available in on demand on Tuesday. The audio is available on Friday.
Speaking with PopCulture.com, Mohr spent nearly an hour diving into his stand up comedy career, as well as his other pursuits. During this chat, he alternated between a wide list of impressions, including Al Pacino, Tracy Morgan and Kermit the Frog, all while weaving in and out of stories. As someone with over three decades of experience, Mohr knows how audiences react to his style of comedy. This is made clear by his opening statement where he says, "I've been doing comedy 32 years. If the show sucks, it's you." However, Mohr does make it clear that this opening tag is just a joke to put the audience at ease before he dives into uncomfortable stories from his life.
"I would say five years ago — It's not true, by the way," Mohr told PopCulture. "It just buys me time and establishes a shared reality. … What I can't say to the audience is, 'let's get this out of the way. You're a little uncomfortable. You're in the front, you think I might pick on you. You're hoping this is going to be great.' This is all I do. This is the only thing I'm exceptional at. … I'm just letting the audience know that they are in good hands and I'm grateful, but it's also a bit of stiff arm."
As Mohr continues explaining, the psychology behind this statement is that he is letting the audience off the hook. He also partners that initial statement with a pair of similar notes. Mohr says that if the show is great, it's because of him. However, if the show is "other level," it's due to both him and the audience. They create this memorable experience together.
Mohr's experience in stand-up is further evident considering that he took a different approach to Jay Mohr: American Treasure. Instead of filming two shows and then combining the best parts, he simply showed up at the Peppermint Club. Mohr took the stage, did his set and then headed home. He explained that the one set was "his perfect snowball," and he didn't have to think about trying to improve anything. He just told stories from his life in a club that has a unique design.
"The thing I loved about the Peppermint Club is that it's very small and you can't hide," Mohr explained. "I can see every single person in the room. Right now, in my mind, I can picture the people at the back of the bar — their faces. I can see them. … I could have touched six people just by sticking out my arm. I like the fact that when I'm talking about things that are uncomfortable that happened to me, you're not going anywhere. This is what the gig is. You're going to sit with me and my stuff."
As evidence of the uncomfortable situations, Mohr tells a story in the special about working on a Clint Eastwood-directed film. In the story, the two men discuss their past struggles with addiction issues, albeit with very different focuses. This leads to a wildly fascinating tale about the longtime actor-director and how he prefers to spell certain words instead of saying them.
When he isn't on the stage, Mohr also spends time working as a coach in two different parts of life. He is a part-time wrestling coach at Palisades High Schools and he is also a life coach. He works with clients and helps them "rediscover their purpose." These three careers are different on paper, but the veteran comedian explains that they all require the same set of tools.
"It's the same tools; it's the same skillset," Mohr said. "It's reading a room, vibing it out and making people feel better. As a wrestling coach, my job is I read the room of the individual — inside your heart. In all of the above, you have to have an emotional athleticism to know when talking is going to get you nowhere."
As Mohr explained, standup comedy is similar in that he asks the audiences to go on "long, spooky journeys" with him. At the end of this trip, he has to reward them with a brilliant payoff. With the wrestlers, he asks them to be extraordinary in their efforts on the mat. He doesn't care if they lose every time; no one can take the effort away from them. Finally, he asks his life coaching clients what the problem is that they are trying to fix. He then asks if that's the real problem "because you're great."
"If a kid just got in a fight and he's walking off the mat, 'hey, you know what you need to do is…' He's wearing headgear. He can't hear you," Mohr continued. "I feel it's the same skillset. Just separate people from concern and let people know they are greater than they could ever imagine they are and prove it to them."0comments
Whether he is working as a wrestling coach, a life coach or taking the stage for a new special, Mohr is well aware of one thing — you have to be perfect. He said that these jobs require perfection at all times. He can’t make a mistake and give the wrestlers bad advice, and he can't flub a joke on the stage. Mohr said that connecting people with the biggest part of his three jobs, but perfection is also extremely important.
Jay Mohr: American Treasure is available on Tuesday through the Comedy Dynamics network. This distribution system includes Comcast, Amazon Prime Video, Spectrum, Apple TV, Dish, Google Play, DirecTV, Vimeo, YouTube and more. The album will also become available in audio form on Friday through SiriusXM, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, Tidal and more.