Jay Oakerson’s first TV credit was on BET. Big Jay started stand-up comedy in all-black rooms in Philadelphia, and now he’s playing to everyone while often relying on his sharp wit to riff with the crowds in the moment. He hosts an all-crowd-work series “Big Jay Oakerson’s What’s Your F@#king Deal,” on the NBC digital comedy platform SeeSo, and his previous credits include multiple stories on Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, and appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Comedy Underground with Dave Attell. Big Jay currently co-hosts “The Bonfire” on SiriusXM satellite radio every Monday and Wednesday with fellow comedian Dan Soder, and also co-hosts the Legion of Skanks podcast with friends Luis J. Gomez and Dave Smith. They’re throwing their first anti-comedy festival, Skankfest, this June in Long Island City, NY – and Big Jay Oakerson’s first hourlong TV special, Live at Webster Hall, is premiering on Comedy Central. So let’s get to it!
Matt Balaker is writing a book about Greg Giraldo; scratch that, he’s writing THE book on Greg Giraldo, as there hasn’t been a proper biography about the outrageously witty stand-up comedian since he died in 2010 at the age of only 44. Balaker, a comedian himself, has interviewed more than 25 people close to Giraldo – from his former managers, friends, comedians, and his widowed ex-wife – and successfully received Kickstarter funding to finish the Greg Giraldo Book, along with a co-author Wayne Jones. Balaker sat down with me to explain how he got involved in this project, what he’s learned along the way, and asked me to share my own thoughts on Giraldo. So let’s get to it!
Kevin Bartini is a stand-up comedian and writer who audiences see first when they attend tapings of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on Comedy Central. Bartini also has warmed up TV audiences for The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and sometimes now The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He also hosts The Movie Preview Review podcast (part of the ShowBriz Studios network), and spearheaded the years-long effort to successfully rename the New York City block George Carlin grew up on as George Carlin Way. Bartini is in a new Off-Broadway production of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream timed to help us ring in the summer of 2016. So let’s get to it!
At 83, Dick Gregory remains an active comedy legend, logging more than 200 stand-up gigs a year. Gregory changed the game in 1961 when he performed at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Club in Chicago, and the notoriety of becoming the first black comedian to play to white crowds led him soon thereafter to become the first black performer to sit on the couch with Jack Paar when he was host of The Tonight Show on NBC. His 1963 autobiography was a best-seller, and in 1968, he received the fifth-most votes for President of the United States as a write-in candidate. He has remained politically active and topical to this day. Dick Gregory sat down with me in the green room at Carolines on Broadway before going onstage, and told me not only about how racism impacted his life and career decisions before comedy, but also how Hefner changed his life, and finally, his thoughts on the passing of Muhammad Ali and the prosecution and persecution of Bill Cosby. Yes, Dick Gregory went there. He’s as thought-provoking as ever. So let's get to it!