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The laughs are real in Jay Mohr’s new standup special ‘Altamont’

January 26, 2022
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During the middle of my interview with comedian Jay Mohr about his ominously titled standup special, “Altamont,” the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member truly surprised me with a mic-drop moment I didn’t see coming.

Mohr’s most recent visit to Maine in 2018 included shows in Bar Harbor and Portland, where he first appeared as a rising comic in the late 1980s.

Beyond “SNL,” you’ve seen the Emmy-nominated Mohr in movies “Jerry McGuire,” “Picture Perfect” and “Suicide Kings” and in series television on “Ghost Whisperer” and “Gary Unmarried.” Mohr was the creator and inaugural host of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” he hosts the podcast “Mohr Stories” and he’s authored two books, including “Gasping for Airtime,” a chronicle of his years on “Saturday Night Live.”

“Altamont” is Mohr’s fourth full-length comedy special, and as he reveals during the following interview, it was his last show before he underwent a life-altering event.

During a 2020 interview with UPI, Mohr revealed why he’d decided six years earlier to reinvent himself as a comic based in truth.

“To sit down and write a joke, I realized, is a construct that’s not truthful,” Mohr said, adding “I could tell a joke about watching ‘Turner and Hooch’ but I wasn’t … the crowd knows it’s a bit, it’s a game.”

But by creating comedy based on real-life experience, Mohr realized he was onto something that was “rewarding for everybody and they kept coming back.”

As Mohr reveals during the interview to follow, his current tour takes that concept to the next level.

The Maine Edge: Some of my favorite stories you share in “Altamont” deal with some of the stupid things we did as kids. It’s amazing we’re still alive, isn’t it?

Jay Mohr: We were idiots. I grew up in New Jersey and I thought you could skateboard to Florida because it was all downhill. As kids, we used to box on the roof of my house. You lost if you were knocked out and rolled off the roof, but we put our bikes down there to cushion the fall. We weren’t well and we really should not be alive.

The Maine Edge: You try to tell stories like that to kids today and they won’t believe you.

Jay Mohr: Right, because they never leave the house. I’ve got a 10-year-old son that I’m about to roll in bubble wrap and push out a window.

The Maine Edge: You do share some family stories in this special. How did your son react when he discovered he was part of the show?

Jay Mohr: Thankfully, 10-year-olds aren’t really allowed in comedy clubs. When I was telling him stories about where I grew up and getting beaten up and bullied, we were having breakfast one morning when he was 9 and he goes, “Jeez, you were raised by savage people.” Maybe that’ll be the name of my next special – “Savage People.” That was a fair assessment of growing up in public schools in New Jersey where you have a boxing league and every time your English teacher leaves the classroom, you pull the desks aside and start throwing hands.

The Maine Edge: I think it might be fun to pull the plug on the internet for just one day so kids can see how we had to live for decades.

Jay Mohr: I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately because I see so many people addicted to their phones and I’m on it so much less. I don’t know that my life would change much with the exception of phone numbers. I have no idea what anybody’s phone number is. If the internet went down and there was no cell service and somebody asked me for my Dad’s phone number, I’d be like “Uh … eleven?” All I know is it says Dad in my phone and I press the magic talky button and he’s there.

The Maine Edge: Only Jay Mohr would name his new comedy special “Altamont” after a nightmare Rolling Stones concert where the Hell’s Angels were given free beer in exchange for running security.

Jay Mohr: I like that you know that. I named it that because I was a nightmare onstage because that was my last show before I went into rehab for Adderall addiction. I’m proud of the work. It’s a great, not good, a great special but the whole time I’m onstage it’s like watching a rocket reenter the Earth’s atmosphere with a giant ball of flame and panels being ripped off and just hoping it’s not all going to disintegrate. That was going on in my mind the entire time I was onstage trying to hold it together. Now I’ve got 10 months and six days clean so now when I go onstage, I’m free, I’m a free man. I’m not swimming with my clothes on anymore. It’s fascinating for me to watch the special because I know exactly where I was at that moment. To say I was a mess is an understatement.

The Maine Edge: Now we know the rest of the story. I honestly had no idea. You seemed so natural and totally dialed in onstage. It’s incredible to me that you were up there killing it but dealing with that addiction at the same time. It seemed like you may even have improvised a few things, like the line about the guy with the ponytail who came to your door.

Jay Mohr: (laughing) Yeah, he looked like he just came back from a Rush concert.

The Maine Edge: It’s amazing that you held it together and were so funny at the same time you were going through this.

Jay Mohr: I agree, and it really invigorates me and inspires me now that I’m free of the addiction today. I no longer have to do pill math at all times, like where do I get it? Do I have enough? How much is that going to cost? Which prescription did I fill? Yada yada.

The Maine Edge: What is it like now when you’re onstage?

Jay Mohr: It’s 10 times better. I’m back on tour now straight out of rehab. I talk about life in rehab and the intervention, what a mess I was and what my life is like now. It’s amazing to watch the special with the illusion of me at the top of my game then looking toward the future and realize I’m no longer swimming with my clothes on and how I can really go out and conquer this if I can stay clean and sober and be of service to someone else.

The Maine Edge: You tell a pretty incredible story in this special about working on “SNL” with Chris Farley. You worked with him on the show for two years and you say he was sober during that time. What was the real Chris Farley like?

Jay Mohr: Chris Farley was the most beautiful man I’ve ever met in my life, ever. It was like having the sun on your back in June. You were powerless over Chris Farley. He walked into a room and you just started giggling, he just exuded joy.

He was sober the two years I was on the show and he came into our office very late one night. Don’t worry I’ll clean this up for you (laughs). Me and Dave Attell shared an office, and we were working, which means we were smoking cigarettes and punching each other in the junk, you know guy stuff.

Chris Farley walked in and said “What are you guys doin’?” Like creepy twins, we both at the very same time said “We’ll pay you a hundred dollars if you go to the bathroom out the window.” It was the 17th floor, and he goes “Give me the money.” We give him the money, he goes out on the window ledge with the window resting on the back of his neck. The only parts of him inside the building were like his nose, his hands and his toes. He started straining and he turned purple. He didn’t have to go at all but a deal’s a deal. We were laughing like we were on mushrooms because … we were on mushrooms (laughs). After like two minutes … ever seen one Fig Newton … without any Newton? You’re just left with that brownish fig? That dropped out of Chris Farley into the window onto my desk. That’s why the song says (sings) “Everything about it is appealing!” That’s show business right there, man.

(“Jay Mohr: Altamont” was produced by Comedy Dynamics and is available on all digital streaming platforms including Amazon Prime Video, Spectrum, Apple TV, DISH, Google Play, Vimeo, DIRECTV, YouTube and Comcast.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 26 January 2022 09:04

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