10 Questions with ... Jay Mohr
March 19, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
With a career that has spanned more than three decades, Jay Mohr has always pushed himself to be more than just a comic. After landing his dream job of â€œSaturday Night Live,â€ and launching his career with Tom Cruise in â€œJerry Maguire,â€ he has become a best-selling author, appeared in more than 200 episodes of network television and starred in more than 25 feature films, working with a plethora of Academy Award-winning actors, including Christopher Walken, RenÃ©e Zellweger, Al Pacino, Angelina Jolie, Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ellen Burstyn, Forest Whitaker, Kim Basinger, Matt Damon, and Clint Eastwood.
Additionally, he has added other genres to his journey. He wrote the best-selling book "Gasping for Airtime" about his time on SNL, and his second book was the hilarious, "No Wonder My Parents Drank." In the radio world, Jay has been a regular guest host on nationally syndicated sports radio programs, as well as a regular contributor on the highest-rated radio shows in the country, including multiple stints on "Kevin and Bean" and "Opie and Anthony," just to name a few. Mohr now hosts the daily â€œJay Mohr Sportsâ€ on FOX Sports Radio from 9 a.m. â€“ 12 p.m. PT / 12 p.m. â€“ 3 p.m. ET.
1. You were a well-established comedian/actor before you started hosting and filling in on sports talk shows. Where did your interest in doing radio come from? What made you want to do radio in the first place?
Iâ€™ve always wanted to do radio. You get to talk to millions of people every day, and my favorite thing is sports - I love to talk sports, and now I have a job where I get to go on the radio and talk about it. Itâ€™s a job that I would be an absolute fool not to do, and it would have been the missing piece of the puzzle in my life had I gone to my grave having never got a shot at radio.
2. How, if at all, is the new show different from what you did as a fill-in -- is there a different approach to doing this on a daily basis from how you approached, say, doing a week as a substitute?
The new show is different from being a fill-in because of its regularity - itâ€™s every day, itâ€™s constant and itâ€™s something I can rely on. Itâ€™s great to be on a schedule. As a comic, youâ€™re sort of an itinerant preacher who travels the country and makes people laugh a couple hundred at a time. With this job, I sit in the same chair every day and I make a few million people laugh.
I take pride in that this show separates itself from other shows on radio because of the amount of laughs we have. For anybody who hasnâ€™t listened yet, other people say, â€œhey, give me two weeks.â€ Man, if I canâ€™t get you in one day, then I stink! You listen one day, and I guarantee Iâ€™m going to make you laugh. Iâ€™ll also make you think a little, Iâ€™ll give you the scores and stats, and weâ€™ll play some clips of things people said. But if you listen one day, Iâ€™ll get ya! I think thatâ€™s a fair trade â€“ three hours of your time, and Iâ€™ll entertain you for as long as I have the job.
3. You're still doing your podcast alongside the network radio show. What does doing the podcast offer you, and the listeners, thatâ€™s different from the radio show? How do they complement each other?
The podcast is definitely not safe for work; itâ€™s definitely R-rated. It involves a lot of comics and non-sports people â€“ the drummer from the Black Crowes, Rufus Wainwright; Damien Echols, who spent 18 years and 78 days on death row for a crime he didnâ€™t commit; Bootsy Collins and Charlie Sheen. These arenâ€™t your regular sports talk radio guests, and theyâ€™re people that, on a podcast, you can sit down with and really break it down - thereâ€™s no commercial to go to. The language is much saltier on the podcast too, but whatâ€™s great is that itâ€™s not difficult to work clean.
When I go to the radio show, itâ€™s just a different job, but equally as fun. I think thatâ€™s how being a comedian really helps me. When youâ€™re a comedian, there are some bars where you have to get pretty raunchy. Otherwise, everyoneâ€™s going to walk out. Then, there are corporate gigs you do for investment bankers where you have to do a G-rated show and wear a suit and tie. Itâ€™s just a world where you oscillate back and forth.
I think the podcast and radio show complement each other because theyâ€™re very different versions of me talking, and Iâ€™m very lucky to have both. Theyâ€™re both great outlets, and the guests are very different and divided, but ultimately and subsequently, united.
4. How has becoming a father changed your outlook on your career and on life in general, if at all?
It has removed vanity from my DNA. When you have a kid, all you really want to do is get home to that kid. Again, going back to the schedule â€“ itâ€™s just a blessing because every day at 2 oâ€™clock, Iâ€™m home with my children and my beautiful wife. Thereâ€™s no sitting in a trailer on a Universal back lot, calling home and saying, â€œwell, theyâ€™re still putting up the lights. They didnâ€™t get to me yet. Iâ€™m not sure when Iâ€™ll be home.â€ I know exactly when Iâ€™m going to be home; itâ€™s great.
Having kids also changes your perception of whatâ€™s really important, and that is you donâ€™t need your face on a billboard, you donâ€™t need your name above a title, and you donâ€™t need your own sitcom. You need to make enough money to cover your mortgage and things that make you and your family happy, and then you need to get your butt home.
5. Here's one about your acting career: You've done high-profile, successful things like "Jerry Maguire," you've done (and wrote a book about your experiences at) "Saturday Night Live," and you've done things that reached a very rabid, appreciative, but small cult audience ("Action" being a prime example). On a purely personal level, money aside, how would you prefer to be known, as a mainstream success or as a cult figure with artistic cachet? (Not that you can't have both, and you've personally experienced both, but assuming there's a dichotomy that puts you in one camp or the other, would you prefer the artistic cred or the mainstream success? Indie band or arena rock? Sundance or Adam Sandler movies?)
Itâ€™s a trick question because in the real world, and we all are in the real world, you canâ€™t put money aside. If youâ€™re asking me between mainstream success and cult success, cult success comes with that angst of wondering how youâ€™re going to pay all your bills. With mainstream success, itâ€™s implied that youâ€™re making a great deal of money, and Iâ€™ll go for the check every time because of the security that comes with that.
I have kids. They like to ride bikes. I have to buy those bikes. Those kids need pads and helmets, and then I have to buy a bike because I donâ€™t want to chase them down the street. So, give me mainstream success and a check for free bikes.
6. Of the major sports, which would you say is your strongest in terms of knowledge and ability to comment, and which is your weak spot?
Baseball is my strongest â€“ itâ€™s not even close. I think theyâ€™re all tied for second after baseball. Why? - I think when youâ€™re growing up, itâ€™s an easier sport to follow, and I grew up on baseball.
7. How do you prep your show? What's the process?
Well, first, I cover myself in birds. I go down to the Santa Monica Pier, and I get every pigeon, seagull and crow - if I find a hummingbird, I know itâ€™s going to be an extra special show - and I lay down on the ground and place them so thereâ€™s no part of my body thatâ€™s uncovered by birds. Then, I imagine my Executive Producer Greg Toohey in the studio, putting my show together. And then I yell, â€œToohey On!â€ And I clap my hands real hard and the birds fly away, and judging by how they fly, I know whether Iâ€™m going to have a serious show or a goofy show.
In all seriousness, I have a great team of people. Long before Iâ€™m awake in the morning, my Executive Producer Greg Toohey does an exceptional job of producing materials to show me â€“ I donâ€™t know when he sleeps. He does a really great job of vetting information to make sure I have the best possible and most entertaining things to talk about that day. Then, we work together to finalize the pieces for the show.
8. Of what are you most proud?
My childrenâ€¦but you know what, doing 185 on an incline bench press is a close second.
9. Who are your influences and mentors in the radio business?
I donâ€™t know if I have any mentors, because I didnâ€™t want to be like anyone else - I wanted to be the first me. As far as influences, when I interview, I try to be like Ron Bennington, and when I talk nonsense, I try to be like Ron Bennington. When it comes to being professional and hitting the posts, I try to be like Kevin and Bean.
But, in the end, I donâ€™t want to be the best at what I do; I want to be the only one that does what I do.
10. What's the best advice you've ever gotten? The worst?
Probably the worst advice Iâ€™ve ever gotten, which I got a lot early in my life, is â€œjust fight â€˜em! What could happen?â€ And then two sunken orbital sockets later, you realize what could happen.
The best advice Iâ€™ve ever gotten is from my wife, and that is on our family crest. It is, simply, â€œbe kind.â€