Big Jay Oakerson is undoubtedly one of the top stand up comedians of our generation. From appearing on Z Rock to opening for Korn by doing stand up, his achievements combine comedy and rock music like no other. His sense of humor is shocking and his comfort on stage is impeccable. What happened when I interviewed Jay in his hotel room right before his set? Find out here!
Alex Obert: How were you selected for the role of Neil Latham on Z Rock?
Big Jay Oakerson: I went in for the first audition, it didn’t go well at all. (laughs) But the lady who was the casting director really liked me, Jodi Collins. She was great. She called me in for a call back where I actually did a scene and they let me improv it, which is great, because that’s where my strength lies, making up my own words moreso than reading somebody else’s. I went in and I didn’t know who Paulie was, but he was in there, as well as Bob Held and Lynn Lendway, the band’s management, and also some of the network people. And they were all in the room, so I had an audience too. And they just told me to say a bunch of gay things that were gonna make Paulie uncomfortable. It was easy, I just kept saying things and trying to make him break, and I did. He was trying not to laugh because I’d never met him before and I asked him if he shaves his bush and all this awkward shit. Everyone was laughing.
I’ll tell you what’s really hilarious, my buddy, Julian McCullough, who is another comedian, who was on the show played the guy who said people think he’s James Franco. And then they said that Dina was Lindsay Lohan’s mom. So Julian McCullough calls me one day and goes, “Hey, I’ve got tickets to go see a preview of Rob Zombie’s Halloween.” I was like, “Aw, man. I wanna go see that so bad.” And he said it was tomorrow at 4 or 5 or something like that. And I’m like, “Yeah, mark me in, I’m going.” And the next morning, I go in for that second read for Z Rock. And when I’m done, they tell me, “Alright, thank you, that was really great. We’ll be in touch.” And then I left and my manager called me and he goes, “So they’re gonna make a decision between you and this other guy.” Here’s the thing, I’ve never booked anything before that. I had a commercial that never aired and little shit like that. Little things here and there. But I never booked a part for an audition ever. But that went so good making them laugh because it was so my element, I was like, “I’m gonna get it!” They go, “If you get it, they’re gonna have you come back in today at like 4 PM or 3 PM to do a table read with the script.” And I was like, “Oh man, I wanna see this Rob Zombie thing!” I was like, “How long’s it gonna be?” In my mind, I was sure I got the part, but at the time, it was only a pilot. It wasn’t a full blown series or anything like that. So who knows what’s gonna come of it? It never seems real when it’s happening. So I remember going to that thing bummed that I was gonna miss the Rob Zombie thing, we never even went, by the way. It was first come, first serve. We never got in. (laughs) But I did get the part.
Alex Obert: What are your thoughts on ZO2 as a band and as actors? And what was your first impression upon meeting them?
Big Jay Oakerson: I never heard of the band before. But it was fun because we all got to be at our best, acting wise, because everyone involved is a personality. Everyone was a pretty big personality, including Lynne Koplitz who played Dina. With everyone being such a big personality and being able to make up our own lines, it was very liberating. So everyone comes off like a good actor because there was no memorization like, “Shit, I’ve gotta say this!” It’s just go out there and organically talk about what’s going on. And musically, they really blew me away. Touring bands as I have now the past couple of years, getting gigs like that, I’ve seen some amazing bands that have disbanded since then. And such is ZO2, they’ve disbanded too. They seemed really talented to me. Joey was a wicked fuckin’ drummer that he is. David, I say he’s an amazing bass player, but other bass players and musicians have told me why he is a really, really good bass player. Paulie can play guitar good and he’s got a fuckin’ amazing voice. They were a three piece band that I thought were fuckin’ fantastic. But who knows, I don’t know exactly why they stopped or anything.
Here’s a story, me and the boys of ZO2 were hosting a college radio show for promotion one day and we were making up trivia for callers to answer for prizes. Well, Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors (and from Z Rock) called into the show and was asked by Paulie to make up the next trivia question for the audience. He went on to pose the question: “Any real fan would know this. What is my (Chris Barron) middle name?” I quickly responded, “Somebody call 1992 and find that out!!” I was met with awkward stares from the boys and a deafening silence from the Spin Doctor himself. Suffice to say, nobody but me got the greatness of that joke!
Alex Obert: What are some of your favorite memories from filming Z Rock?
Big Jay Oakerson: Popper was always just great. Daryl Hall was a big, big kick for me because I’m from Philly. When I walked in that morning, I knew he was there and they asked if I wanted to meet Daryl Hall and I was like, “Yeah!” “He’s in that room over there.” I walk in there and before I could say, “Mr. Hall”, he goes, “Jay! Hilarious on the show!” They sent him a bunch of episodes and he actually watched them. He just started complimenting me and I went, “Wow, man. That’s fucking Daryl Hall!” That was so cool! I loved him. So that was one of the biggest kicks for me. Getting a chance to sit there in closed quarters on breaks, when they were filming music scenes with Dave Navarro, and they’d yell, “Cut!”, he would just start playing Maiden songs on guitar. That’s pretty cool.
The finale in season two will always have a special place in my heart. I think it was funny. It was a funny episode. I got to do a lot of fun shit in it. Emotionally too, because it ended up being the last thing we ever did. It was pretty cool. They gave me one episode devoted to my character, when we went upstate to Chappaqua. People like that episode a lot. That was a lot of fun because I got to really take the lead in that one.
We were shooting Z Rock at Mohegan Sun and Van Halen was playing there that night. We were all given free tickets to the show, and I’ve never seen van Halen so I was pretty stoked. Well, shooting went particularly long that day and our last scene had me dressed like a female tennis player, complete with skorts! When the shoot was over I was handed my ticket and told, “There are only four songs left, so you better run right in there now!” What a dilemma! As I’m dressed like a girl and only able to catch four Van Halen songs if I went in looking the way I did. I will end this by saying I only saw two Van Halen songs that night, but I saw them in men’s pants!
Alex Obert: Where would you have liked to see the show go if there was a third season?
Big Jay Oakerson: They would have to make it to some degree. Something like I become their tour manager and Dina is their manager. I drive the bus and just kind of Partridge Family it. The story would be more traveling and them actually having to deal with rockstars and get away from the kids party shit.
Alex Obert: Moving onto music, how were you selected to be apart of first the Jagermeister Tour with Korn in 2010 and then the Mayhem Festival with Korn and Rob Zombie the Summer of that same year?
Big Jay Oakerson: After Z Rock, I linked up with a manager who was a big music guy. He managed bands like Shadows Fall. His name was Dave “The Rev” Ciancio. He worked for a PR firm called The Syndicate that he started, it involves metal music and shit. His agency called The Agency Group. He said maybe he could help me out with some managerial stuff. He called me the same day and he goes, “Do you wanna go on the Jagermeister Tour, opening for Korn? Small venues for five weeks, six weeks.” And I was like, “Wow! Yeah, dude!” He called me two hours later and said they also made an offer for Mayhem Fest. He presented the idea that it would be a cool idea to bring a comic in for these things. Mayhem Fest was great, and I’ve done Mayhem Fest twice now on the slave shit buses they call them with twelve people on them. I’m there with a lot of crew guys because I’m not in a band with my own bus. I jumped on production buses. It’s fine, it’s cool, I get the front to myself. You make friends with everybody on your bus. Everyone gets along pretty good, usually. It’s a fun thing. But that first one was Korn, a band called 2Cents, who are now disbanded. I became very tight with those guys. There would be a local opener every city that we went to. We did thirty cities. On my bus, the production bus, it was me and three other guys. So we had these huge bunks and we could go to the back and play video games or hang up front and do whatever. Just touring the country like that, that’s awesome. It’s a glimpse into how cool tour bus traveling would be. As a comic, I’d love to do that.
Alex Obert: After the Jagermeister tour, how did you feel prepared for the Mayhem Tour?
Big Jay Oakerson: It was scary. The first one was San Bernadino, California. You walk out there and it’s 25,000 people in an ampitheater. You’re only going to be able to do what you can do. So you gotta cheerlead a little bit, throw in a dirty joke. But it went surprisingly fucking well, man. If it makes sense, it went well enough that I remember the cities where it wasn’t good. Like North Carolina, they couldn’t haven given a shit. All it is, you just can’t be afraid of the situation. Regardless of the situation, it doesn’t matter. What’s the worst that’ll happen? I’m gonna go out there and they’ll be like, “Fuck you! You suck!” And I’ll be like, “Okay. Hey, this guy thinks I suck! Do you think I suck?” And they’ll be like, “Yeeeaaah!” And I’ll be like, “This fat fuck here!” Just pick on some dude, put the cameras on him and make fun of him. I’ll win ’em back. They’re just apes, they just wanna cheer for something early at that point. So it became fun. And that goes back to starting pretty rough in comedy rooms when I started doing comedy. And then doing that first tour with Korn. Again, it was much smaller, but it wasn’t easy. It’d be like 8,000 people sometimes in these venues. So it was like I did have to work that muscle on a bigger scale on the Mayhem Fest. But it was the same kind of audience, just trying to get all these people to focus in on one thing that’s not music for a minute. But it was fine. The challenge is great.
Alex Obert: Do you have any stories of any of the musicians on those tours watching your set from the side of the stage?
Big Jay Oakerson: The first time, it was the coolest thing in the world. I remember exactly where because it ended up being the best venue for it and it was on that first Jager tour with Korn. I wanted them to see my comedy. I knew they knew I was on tour and they were friendly enough and they’d say hi in passing. They see me do what I do, they’re Korn, they’d see me do my thing good. Minneapolis, First Avenue Club, which Prince owns. It’s just set up good. It was called the Ballroom Blitz Tour because they did these small venues. And First Avenue was just like two tier, but it was tight. It was like a square. It was like a tight square, a bunch of people packed in there. So I was like, “Oh, this is great! I can work this crowd!” So I just got comfortable and really had fun doing jokes. I’m pacing the stage and when I walk left one of the times, I see Jonathan Davis and the guys are poking their heads out of the door and they’re laughing, slapping their legs. That was the coolest feeling. And after that, Jonathan Davis and those guys became super cool with me. They would always talk to me. In fact, when I went on Mayhem Fest, Jonathan Davis was riding around on a segway, he pulls over one time and he goes, “Every time I see you, you’re always alone. Why are you so alone all the time?” And I was like, “Well, because I’m alone. I’m not a band. I’m just a comic, I don’t have my tour manager or my manager or bandmates, it’s just me.” And he goes, “Nah, you’re with us.” They were really cool. I ended up hanging out on his bus and shit. That was real cool.
Alex Obert: Tying into music, if you had to name five of your favorite bands at the moment, who would they be?
Big Jay Oakerson: I dug those girls, Haim. It’s three sisters and they’re pretty badass. It’s bubblegum singer/songwriter sort of shit, but they’re really, really talented chicks. Marilyn Manson never gets old to me. He’s just my favorite of all time. I’ve listened to a lot of Tool again lately. That’s what’s hilarious about the guys in ZO2, none of them have any actual genuine interest in metal. (laughs) They’re actually all very bubblegum eighties hair rock guys. Old school, I listen to a bunch of Maiden lately. I’ve enjoyed Stone Sour, I saw them recently do some Sabbath songs. It was fuckin’ great. They’re a tight band too.
Alex Obert: Several comedians have appeared on this to talk about music and stand up, would you look into going on That Metal Show?
Big Jay Oakerson: Sure. I know Jim and Don very well. And Eddie. He was on Z Rock, actually. Those are my favorite scenes ever! With Eddie Trunk when I said that Paulie had sweat running down his chest like a Plinko chip. That was one of my favorite lines I ever got to say on that show! I’d love to be apart of That Metal Show.
Alex Obert: Who would you want to be paired with on the episode?
Big Jay Oakerson: You know who I wanna be paired with? I’ve worked with him so much. I’ve interviewed him several times. Spoken to him on the side stage and everything and I’ve done so much. Even a few weeks ago, to go see him and Korn. It’s Rob Zombie. Because for some reason, I thought when I was doing Mayhem Fest, I go, “Me and this guy are gonna connect and become best friends in the world!” And he couldn’t be more just doesn’t give a shit to be friends with me at all. (laughs) Like I’m not making it annoying or anything weird with him, I just try to spark a few conversations. And he just couldn’t give two shits. I even told him that time with Z Rock when we went down there and tried to get into that screening, but they oversold it. I saw him, Rob Zombie was there for the screening. He goes into the diner next door. And I tell my buddy, I go, “Look, he’s friends with Tom Papa. He’s come to the Comedy Cellar before. I could walk in there, tell him that we’ve met before, met him briefly. (This is before Mayhem Fest) I’ll be nice to him.” I go in there, I can’t believe I even do it. But I got the balls to do it. I go in there, I give him the whole schmooze. He told me to sit down for a second, me and my buddy Luis J. Gomez sit down for a few minutes. And then I go, “So yeah, I’m really excited to see the movie!” I go, “I loved the other two. I really hope I get in. We are so far back in that line.” He goes, “Nah, you’ll be good!” I knew we weren’t gonna be good because we were so far back in the line. And we never got in, but I got to meet Rob Zombie. It’s funny, when you go home, I was pissed off that I never went into the movie, but you’re like, “I got to bullshit with Rob Zombie!” But I don’t know, I wanted to see the movie! (laughs) It was a failure still. I told him that story and he’s like, “Oh, that’s funny!” and then kind of walks away. He doesn’t care to be friendly with me.
Alex Obert: Do you have any particular awkward or memorable encounters with musicians when you were younger?
Big Jay Oakerson: Yeah, weirdly enough, Head from Korn. He’s the one who left the band. He was not in the band at all when I became friendly with the band. So when I went to go see them a few weeks ago, I knew everybody in the band, but Head. And no one really introduced me at all, it was like weird when we kept crossing paths. But when I was younger, my buddy Craig Gass brought me backstage to a Korn show. He walked by and Craig goes, “Hey, this is my buddy Jay!” And he gave me one of those pump, I’m gonna punch you things. I don’t recall flinching, but then he goes, “Ah, I’m just fuckin’ with you man!” Like a “You’ll be fine, kiddo!” And then he just kept walking. (laughs) I remember going, “What a dickhead!” (laughs)
Alex Obert: A few more musicians you’ve interacted with, what was it like working with Steel Panther?
Big Jay Oakerson: Those guys are great. Those guys do remember me. We did Rock on the Range last year together. I actually opened for the at the Key Club once. It was not good! That was worse than any Mayhem I did for some reason. They were kind of like a shitty crowd. These guys, their jokes are about fucking you in the ass and cumming on your face, and I was doing dirty shit. And the crowd was very weird. I was thrown, to say the least by that! But those guys, it’s great when you see them without the hair. Lexxi Foxxx has a shaved head, khaki pants, and a green t-shirt. They’re great, they’re so fun. They really do a cool thing. Actually, Korn’s drummer now, Ray Luzier, he’s phenomenal and I did become good friends with him. He was one of the original creators of Steel Panther when they were called Metal Skool.
Alex Obert: What was it like with Chris Jericho on the set of Z Rock?
Big Jay Oakerson: It was such a cool thing because I am a big wrestling fan from growing up with it. I remember the Lionheart Chris Jericho with long hair and WCW and all that shit. So yeah, that was great, man. He’s such a cool dude. He’s a really mellow guy. I’ve texted back and forth with him. He’s not like a cunt. He’s a nice, nice guy.
Alex Obert: Back into stand up comedy, do you have any memorable stories of offended people walking out of your set?
Big Jay Oakerson: (laughs) Yeah, I’ve sent people on their way before. I don’t mind if people leave at all. But if somebody’s gonna walk out, I do somehow require to know why. I gotta know why they’re leaving. One thing I’ve quaffed, thank God, is the ability to be very, very comfortable on stage. So it’s like I’m not shaking about whoever’s going, so someone walking out isn’t so awkward, but I wanna know why. I’m curious to have a discussion or debate with them. Because I’ll debate that you’re leaving over something stupid. You shouldn’t be leaving. (laughs) You never know, to each his own. I’ll just say the meanest stuff. There was a Jewish family one time that was being really shitty and angry at what I was saying, making a scene. As they were leaving, I was just denying the Holocaust and I said to make sure they tip because Jews don’t tip. All kinds of anti-Jewish shit. And then as soon as they got out of earshot, they left the club and made a big scene, I told them, “I’m actually Jewish. I just hated those people!” I’ll say whatever to win. I don’t mean any of that. I’ve got Holocaust survivors in my family. That’s a terrible thing. But it’s in the moment. Patrice O’Neal told me that this is a brilliant way to live your life if you don’t let anything upset you that people say. It’s very liberating. It seems like it takes a lot of energy to get upset about stuff. When I did Jimmy Fallon this year, the amount of hate mail that came in from that! (laughs) I love it! I think it’s great. The hate mail is great publicity. Whenever I get hate mail, I’m like, “Really? You’re that upset by this joke? It’s a fucking joke!” I’m a person who helps an old lady with her bags. I’m a kind person. I don’t hurt people viciously. It’s just so weird with this filthy humor and people are like, “You’re just an evil person!” No way! Over a fuckin’ pubes joke? You gotta loosen the fuck up!
Alex Obert: In wrapping, first, I’d like to thank you for your time.
Big Jay Oakerson: Thank you!
Alex Obert: What’s next for you?
Big Jay Oakerson: Well I’m heading to Shiprocked Cruise pretty soon. I’m in talks to maybe do something with Comedy Central Radio. I’m on the Ron and Fez Show a ton on SiriusXM, as well as Raw Dog. I’m doing an album with Crowd Work for Comedy Central Records. And hopefully, fingers crossed this year, if all goes right, hopefully an hour special on Comedy Central. So that’s what the goals are right now.
Alex Obert: Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
Big Jay Oakerson: Check me out on Facebook and Twitter and bigjaycomedy.com. Hit me up on Twitter. And on Cave Comedy Radio (dot com), is my podcast, Legion of Skanks. I do that with my buddies, Dave and Luis. It’s filthy, it is hilarious. It’s available on iTunes also. Check that out, that’s what I’m doing right now that I’m most proud of. A weekly, free download podcast. It’s fun.
Alex Obert: Thanks again!
Big Jay Oakerson: Thank you, brother!