by Andrew Wantuck
Walking through Jimmy’s Dore
This week I sopke with an outstanding comedian named Jimmy Dore. He has appeared multiple times on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Comedy Central, and the Late Late Show. In this interview we discussed being one of twelve kids, his part in The Marijuana-Logues, and how everybody hates their boss.
Andrew: Can you tell me what it’s like growing up in Chicago, specifically the south side? How did that influence who you are today?
Jimmy: Well, I come from a family of twelve kids and if my dad liked kids so much, why didn’t he become a priest? Anyway, twelve kids, people say to me all the time, well you must learn a lot about life growing up in a big family. You do. I think the biggest thing I learned is I am easily replaced. You know what I mean. I knew if I died it wasn’t going to put a big dent in their plans. I can’t imagine my mom sitting around going, “Oh no, Jimmy’s dead, what am I going to do now with just eleven of you.”
Andrew: Tell me a little a little bit about The Marijuana-Logues? What was that exactly?
Jimmy: Well, it was like what The Vagina Monologues were for vagina’s, the Marijuana- Logues were for marijuana. It was a celebration of all things marijuana. It’s beautiful too, because in California we have medical marijuana. And when I say we, I mean I.
That’s the thing people always ask me about when I travel. Is medical marijuana really that much better than regular marijuana? And I am always like, “I don’t know, is Christmas day really that much better than a regular day?” Everyday my head pops off the pillow, I wonder what Santa left me? I hope it’s medicine.
Andrew: I know you talk about politics a lot in your act. That can be a very difficult subject to navigate for comedians.
Jimmy: Well, I don’t really talk about politics. I talk more about issues. Like, I’ll talk about healthcare or I’ll talk about the banking fiasco or the oil thing. Real politics? I don’t go, ‘Hey, how about that Spiro Agnew?’ You know what I mean? It’s more about topics. I certainly did George Bush jokes and I am going to do Barack Obama jokes, so get ready.
Andrew: I am proud to say that after three years of interviews that is the first Spiro Agnew reference.
Jimmy: [laughs] Shocking.
Andrew: So have you ever been on stage and felt that you had to pull back on one particular topic or subject?
Jimmy: Well, like most things in life, it’s not what your saying, it’s how your saying it.
So, I like the fact that I can make people laugh at things they normally wouldn’t laugh at, like religion and their favorite political leader. So, that’s me, I don’t have to change what I am talking about, I just say it in a way that makes people receptive to it. That’s why I am a performer, rather than a guy who just writes all day. You know what I mean.
Andrew: Are you a guy who writes a joke first, goes up on stage and tells it or do you take a premise on stage and eventually find punchlines?
Jimmy: It’s definitely the latter. I’m definitely that guy. I’ll have an idea about something and then I’ll go on stage. There’s a power about the stage, it kind of accelerates the writing, it makes me a ten times better writer than I am, while I’m performing. Things come to me quicker. You know Jerry Seinfeld said, “Good crowds help you write, bad crowds help you edit.”
Andrew: What new skills have you learned over the past year?
Jimmy: There are two things I have learned. I have learned how to moderate my marijuana intake. Which is definitely a skill.
Andrew: Do you have a particular story that taught you how to learn that moderation?
Jimmy: Yeah, I do, but I forgot it. I also forgot the second thing I learned.
Andrew: Can you describe or have you identified any trends that are going on in the comedy profession today?
Jimmy: There’s a trend for comedians to be extremely graphic sexually and personal. As if that’s edgy. It’s kind of annoying to me. I can tell you there’s a trend away from comedians trying to challenge their audiences, I think. I’m more of a George Carlin, Robert Klein, Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Sam Kinison guy, those are the guys I was always drawn to. Rodney Dangerfield too, but those are the guys. I just see less of that happening today, it’s pretend edgy. I don’t need to hear your unique way of masturbating. To me that is just fake edgy.
Andrew: So, how would you define real edgy?
Jimmy: When you actually are challenging an idea that the audience holds. When you can challenge them to think a different way comedically. To me, that’s something.
That’s what comedy club’s are supposed to be about. They are supposed to be a place where you talk about things you don’t talk about other places. You talk about things that are a little more risque. That’s what I always felt. That’s why they are night clubs. That’s why people are drinking.
Andrew: Can you remember the first joke you ever wrote and where it was that you told it?
Jimmy: I remember the first joke I ever told on stage, but it was horrible. It was, I just came back from vacation and I caught my girlfriend sleeping with all my friends, so I told her “That’s it, I’m getting new friends.” That was my first joke.
Andrew: How would you characterize your comedy album “Citizen Jimmy” if somebody hadn’t listened to it?
Jimmy: I think it’s a regular guys look at the world. A guy who feels confused about the world. He doesn’t understand the war or religion and he makes it funny.
Andrew: I know you performed for the troops. Can you talk a little bit about that experience?
Jimmy: Well, what’s funny, is it was when George Bush was president and people would always like to complain, if you make fun of the president it hurts the troops. So, I told the George Bush jokes in Afghanistan and it turns out they loved them. Because it turns out, everybody hates their boss.
Andrew: Can you talk to me a little bit about The Comedy & Magic Club? Can you compare and contrast The Comedy & Magic Club to some other clubs that you travel to around the country?
Jimmy: Well, the Comedy & Magic Club is well run. I can’t think of one that is run better. You don’t have to worry about the name being mis-spelled on the marque, or the microphone not working, the lights being broken, or a heckler not being taken care of. The ticket booth is going to be open when they say it is going to be open and everything is right and it’s just run well and I think that is why that club is successful. There is attention to detail. And I know that nobody goes to comedy clubs for food, they go there for the comedy, the comedy is always top notch, but the food there is also. I’m not embarrassed to say half the reason I like to go down to the Comedy & Magic Club is to get the blackened salmon.
Jimmy Dore will be one of the ten comedians featured on Friday, June 18th and Saturday, June 19th 2010. Reservations Required (310) 372-1193 or comedyandmagicclub.com.