An Interview With the Laugh Factory's Jamie Masada
by Roz Browne
Comic Bible correspondent, Roz Browne, had the opportunity to talk to Jamie Masada for Vol. 1 Issue 6. There's an Update in the new issue and
Read the Latest Roz Around Town Here.
Jamie Masada-- who doesn't know this name? If you've been in the Comedy Business and don't know who this is, I think you better rethink your game plan. Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory is an icon in this business.
CB: How did you get into the comedy business?
JM: I was a comedian myself. I was working at The Comedy Store when the strike came in 1979, and because comedians had limited places to perform, I started my own club. That was 19 years ago.
CB: Are they any new trends on the comedy business, like Alternative Comedy was a couple of years ago? Where do you see the comedy business headed?
JM: I think comedy is going back to the original types of comedy, like what was around in the 70's. Again the trend is going to be the old fashioned Vegas stuff . That is going to be big now and continue for the next few years.
JM: Yeah, it's a trend going on. Also variety comedy is coming back again.
CB: What do you think holds most comedians back from being the best they can be?
JM: I think getting stage time around town holds a lot of comedians back. I find that most comedians want to work, but getting the stage time is very difficult. It's hard for any comedian.
CB: I've noticed that you are one of the few club owners who gives newer comedians a chance to be seen.
JM: I think we all do that. I think all of the club owners have an obligation to do that. they should do that. It’s very important, because I think we have an obligation to the studios and the networks to find or develop the next Seinfeld, or the next Eddie Murphy...
CB: What do you look for in a comedian that is showcasing for you.
JM: I work closely with the networks so I would have to say I'm looking for what the networks are looking for, i.e.: comedians who have really strong fine points of view, who are developed, has the right look, and basically just has everything going for them. However, some comedians get a spot and unfortunately they are not ready for it, they get lazy. They say to themselves ‘Okay, I got in the club so I don't need to worry about it anymore,’ and their drive dies down, so, as a club owner, I try to push them as much as I can. I say to them let’s work on it ,then you can become the best, so you’re ready to go to network. When the networks see you, you better be ready and you better be good, because you’re new in this business only one time. So if somebody comes to see you on stage at the Laugh Factory and you’re good, you'll get a job offer. If not they`ll say ‘oh, you need a few years to develop.’ So you want to do as much work on your act as you can before you go to the network. You should go on the road, go in the clubs and work all over town to develop your act before you start showcasing for network people. The are there every single night, they're looking at people.
CB: Do you think road work can harm a comedian?
JM: I don't think working on a stage ever hurts. Unfortunately, road audiences are much easier to please and because of this, I think some comedians get comfortable on the road. i.e.: finds that one of their jokes works on the road. and figures that's good enough and they don't try to improve on it. No matter where you go on the road, you have to work on new material. The road is good discipline for this,you can write during the day because you have nothing else to do.
CB: How important do you think character work is for a comedian as far as going to network?
JM: It's not that important. As long as a comedian is comfortable with him/herself, they can trust their characters and timing. Comedians always come up to me and tell me so and so is teaching a class and they ask me if I think they should take it. I tell them no, you really don't need a class. All you need to do is go on stage, get a tape recorder and tape yourself and go up in as many clubs as you can. The audience is your best teacher. However, a teacher can tell you how to hold a microphone, where to stand, after that no one is going to teach you how to be funny, nobody can tell you what to write, it all comes from within, you have to work on it yourself.
CB: Thank you for an insightful interview!
Roz Browne LA Comedy Award Nominee Comedian and Actress, Roz Browne was voted Boston’s Metro’s Favorite Comedian during the 2006 Boston Comedy Festival. Television appearances include NBC’s Outlaw, ABC’s The View, Comics Unleashed with Bryon Allen, Que Locos Comedy Jam, LifeTime TV, BET’s Comic View, The Best of Comic View and America’s Funniest People. She performs regularly at all of the major comedy clubs nationwide and was featured at the Toyota Comedy Festival in New York. She also produces the popular “Merry Wives of Comedy” Show.