Jake Johannsen: The Far Side of comedy 

San Francisco comedy heavyweight returns to Morty's

click to enlarge jake_johannsen_smile.jpg

NUVO: You did an interview with NUVO in 2011 where you said that you were in the early stages of planning your next comedy special and pitching a TV pilot. How did those things pan out?

Johannsen:
Well I did that special and it’s called “Pictures of My Dinner.” Currently it’s available for download on my website or you can buy the dvd package. The TV show I did with my friend we were not able to sell, but I think you can watch the pilot… it’s onward and upward as far as that goes. I’ve had another idea. So I have to get working on that and get it in to see if I can pitch that.

NUVO: Care to share any spoilers?


Johannsen:
You don't like to let the cat out of the bag early. I don't know if you have read this idea that when you talk about the things you are going to do, sometimes that gives you the endorphin release as if you actually did it. Subconsciously you kind of think “I don't have to do it, I already did it.”

NUVO: You also said you were trying to figure out social media. Any luck?

Johannsen:
I think I have slightly figured it out. I figured out how to put writing on a picture [referring to Facebook].

NUVO: How has your content changed over time?

Johannsen:
I think it’s always about what’s going on with me. So for a few years it was kind of about finding that transition from being a younger person to, well, I’m not the new guy anymore. So there is a little bit of that .. I feel like know Im talking about how my perceptive eon the world has changed a little bit. And I feel woken up a little bit to the idea that when we’re watching the news we’re not necessarily watching the news — we are getting the entertaining news that’s designed to keep us watching the news. Sometimes I’m watching the news and I wonder where do you go to ask “hey, when should I stop watching the news because I have to decide if I’m going to go outdoors right now.”

NUVO: What was your worst gig ever?

Johannsen:
I feel like I have told the “worst gig ever” story so many times … I made girl cry on her birthday one time because she was too drunk to take my advice to please be quiet. So that wasn’t my worst show ever, but I think it was her worst show ever.

NUVO: Do you have a favorite stage or place to perform?

Johannsen:
I have been on so many great stages and great places. I’ll say that I really love a crowd — that 200 to 300 size crowd is pretty great or even smaller crowds are super fun. So some of my favorite memories are from this place when I first started called the Other Cafe. I think it had about a 175 seats. It was a coffee shop, sandwich restaurant during the day. And there was one of those … roll down things so when you were watching the show you could sort of see out the window behind the person who was on stage. So that was a fun place. I got to perform at Fords Theater where president Lincoln was shot. And that was for the current presidnet of that time which was George Bush, the first George Bush. I got to perform at the Kennedy Center … Radio City Music Hall. I got to perform at Radio City Music Hall once.

NUVO: That sounds surreal

Johannsen: It was surreal. It was for comic relief. It was for this giant show. Dick Van Dyke was backstage ... That was an unbelievable night. And of course Robin Williams and Billy Chrystal, Whoopie Goldberg.

NUVO: How does it feel to be compared to Gary Larson comics?

Johannsen:
[Laughs] I hope people now can remember and appreciate how awesome Gary Larson is and was. I mean he is just surreal and terrific. Yeah, when that got written about me: You know when someone will say something super nice and flattering about us, and in our mind you don't really tell people that. When I read that Gary Larson thing, I was like, “Oh, they can read my mind! They know what they want me to say.”

NUVO: What is your best memory of being on Letterman?

Johannsen:
So many. I mean you talk about great stages — that Ed Sullivan Theater. I can’t believe that I didn't mentioning that one sooner. I mean The Beatles, Elvis Presley performed there. My favorite memory there: I was on the show one time with Sean Connery, he came down from the ceiling on a jet pack. That was a pretty awesome night. And my last appearance was great for me because I wanted to go a good set. Which my comedy set went well, and I also wanted to tell Dave — you want to have kind of a heartfelt sentiment and tell someone your true feelings then you want to make jokes. That was a big night for me.

NUVO: What’s the pinnacle of comedy for you? Is it the hour special?

Johannsen:
I think the answer that I like to give about that is — I think almost every comedian would agree with but not many people say out loud — the best day in comedy is the day you quit your day job. And really everything else is gravy after that … every time you walk on stage is a good time.


NUVO: Who is really cracking you up right now?

Johannsen: Man, I think there is … I am trying to think about Indianapolis a little bit. I love Miss Pat. I don't know if you are familiar with Miss Pat. (she has been on two episodes of his podcast) … I like a lot of the guys who are from San Francisco, where I started.

NUVO: What do you think of Donald Trump?

Johannsen:
Oh, boy. You know I keep thinking I am going to watch one of these Republican debates then I don't get to watch it on the night because I am busy doing something. Then I’m going to go watch it on the internet. Then they have another one and I think, “well, I’m not going to watch the first one, I’ll watch the second one because I have already heard about the first.” So I haven't actually watched the debate yet. But I am finding the little nuggets that I am getting from Donald Trump are … I think he is a better entertainer than he would be as president. If he gets elected president … I vote, and I absolutely don't think I am going to be voting for Donald Trump, but if he got elected it would be a cooky ride. So that would be kind of fun. I don't know. I can’t figure out how anything works anymore.

Jake Johannsen
Dec. 10, 7:15 p.m.
Morty's Comedy Joint
3625 E 96th St
$15


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Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor

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Emily is the arts editor at NUVO, where she covers everything from visual art to comedy. In fact she is probably at a theater production right now. Before joining the ranks here, she worked for Indianapolis Monthly and Gannett. You can find her thoughts about Indy scattered throughout the NUVO arts section and... more

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