Stand-up comedian, feature film and television actor, radioman and author: that is the self-made pedigree of Jay Mohr.
Mr. Mohr started doing stand-up at age 16. Since, he has acted in box office hits such as the Tom Cruise film “Jerry Maguire,” and he currently has his own sports radio show, “Jay Mohr Sports,” on Fox Sports Radio. While many comedians look to hit it big and get off the stand-up circuit, Mr. Mohr views his comedy routines as a challenge, and supplemental to his diverse entertainment career.
“Stand-up is what I do the most, and what I do the most naturally, it’s what I was born to do,” he said during a two-part telephone interview from his home in Santa Monica, California last week. His eclectic mix of entertainment is what he said he will be bringing to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center this Sunday during his one-man stand-up show.
However, the actor/comedian doesn’t deny the coolness of doing movies.
“I could say stand-up because I’m promoting it,” he said, adding that he does prefer making movies. Pretending he likes stand-up better than movies would make him a phony, and Mr. Mohr takes pride in keeping it real.
When it comes to movies you get to invade a town with trucks, and food, and equipment, and you make a ton of money, also, Mr. Mohr said.
“It’s like being a pirate,” he continued, “in three months it’s over, and it’s awesome.”
The hardworking entertainer said he was raised with a genetic predisposition to hard work, and that’s where the satisfaction of doing stand-up comes in. An overachiever from a young age, Mr. Mohr reported that he was the youngest kid on his block. Always striving, he started wrestling with the high school team while he was in the seventh grade. At 16, he was performing at comedy clubs with 30 year olds. The result: a bit of a Napoleon complex.
“I was an aggressor before people could dismiss me,” he explained of the fierce competitiveness in him, which is released through his stand-up. “I like seeing how good I can get at it.”
Of his stand-up comedy performances, Mr. Mohr’s mentality for every show is “let’s get better,” he said, adding, “I’ve always been super competitive and that comes from playing Wiffle ball in the driveway as a kid.” Mr. Mohr said he still beats up on 13 year olds in the neighborhood every now and then, through a chuckle.
He was only half-joking when telling anecdotes about his childhood competitiveness. But within the jokes lies truth, laced with a bit of brashness and sarcasm.
“Can you fill a theater in Westhampton?” he mused about his upcoming show. “If you do fill that theater, will you get a standing ovation?”
Comfort is not something he seeks, he said. And by keeping stand-up comedy in his repertoire Mr. Mohr is never completely comfortable, constantly pushing to get better.
Though his stand-up is a one-man show, Mr. Mohr said that what happens on stage is a collaborative effort.
“I never sit and write stand-ups,” he said, noting that his routine comes mainly from improv, skits, and reacting to the energy the audience provides him. And then there are the contributions of his writing (and life) partner, his wife, Nikki Cox.
“She writes half the act, it’s amazing,” Mr. Mohr said.
Sometimes he falls asleep on a plane while they are traveling together, and when he wakes up she gives him 10 minutes worth of killer material. From there, he just “fills in the blanks,” he said.
If stand-up is the hard work, then Mr. Mohr’s sports radio show, Jay Mohr Sports, is a chance to have some fun. Every Monday through Friday, from noon to 3 p.m., he gets to talk sports with his friends and celebrity guests.
“It’s un-inventing the wheel, we’re just having a good time and goofing off,” he said. “I am a fan and a comic that happens to have a sports talk radio show.”
As for his gig in Westhampton Beach this Sunday, the hard work will be worth it, he said, especially if he packs the house.
“I’d love to come every year,” he said. But whether or not he can sell the theater out dictates if he will return. “I take it real seriously,” Mr. Mohr said, “anybody on the fence about seeing the show, I absolutely, unequivocally, guarantee an A-plus performance.”
Jay Mohr will take the stage for a night of stand-up comedy at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Sunday, June 9, at 8 p.m. For reservations or additional information, visit whbpac.org or call the box office at 288-1500.