Bobby Jaycox and Eric Christensen are just like you. They get up every morning to grind away at a day job to pay their bills and keep wood on the fire of a regular life. It’s not until after the sun goes down that these two men get together with other notable and talented STL comics(RAFE WILLIAMS!) and produce gold record caliber television with the KMOV talk show, STL Up Late.
After speaking with We Are Live co-hosts Chris Denman and Travis Terrell last month, Jaycox and Christensen sat down with me to discuss the show’s intentions, how real life hot topics play on their series, and the value of storing enough energy to chase their comic dreams. What followed was inspirational dialogue that should light a damn fire under every aspiring funny bone specialist with a dream of entertaining.
Buffa: Tell me about STL Up Late.
Christensen: I was doing improv at the Improv shop. I had been doing comedy for a long time in Chicago and thought St. Louis needed some of that. People told me STL needed the cool stuff I was doing in Chicago. STL Up Late was a way to show people there is cool stuff here and also follow my passion at the same time.
Buffa: Why watch STL Up Late over the other mainstream late night talk shows like Fallon and Kimmel?
Jaycox: All those people are career people. When you see us, you see people that are working for no money and putting in long hours in during the week to make something for people to enjoy. I feel like we set a bar pretty high for the stuff we put together.
Buffa: Comedy is at a high point right now. Do you see it as a means to heal a soul or merely produce a distraction?
Christensen: They’ve always said laughter is the breaking of tension. I definitely think doing comedy is therapeutic in a lot of ways.
Jaycox: I can imagine a lot of things missing in a society but I can’t imagine comedy not being there. So it’s everybody’s job to keep it on the trajectory of doing new and good things. Some people hit a plateau and think they can’t do anything new. Look at Louis CK, who does a new hour every year. Anything is possible. There’s people who start on YouTube and then are on Netflix. The people who continue to do new things and drive it.
Christensen: Since the beginning, it’s important to keep the serious things in check. That’s comedy’s job.
Buffa: Rafe mentioned something on Tuesday’s WAL broadcast about using heavy hitter topics like the election, gay marriage and gun control in his sketches and comedy in a different way. What is your take on using those real life topics?
Jaycox: I definitely think that part of hitting on political stuff is kind of like growing up. It’s not what your age is. It’s how long you’ve been doing stand up. In order to make those points, you have to be like the Beatles and make those first few albums.
Christensen: You have to earn it.
Jaycox: Yeah. Bill Burr was at the Fox and he was hitting all those hard topics and even his fans were getting uncomfortable. That’s his job. He’s going to give you laughter and make you think about coming onto my side by the end.
Christensen: On STL Up Late, we’re never going to attack those points. We don’t look at gay marriage and think we have to make a joke. If there’s something there that is funny, we will do it.
Jaycox: It’s like putting your finger on the pulse and trying to see if there is anything we could do. Like Rafe did with the finger gun.
Buffa: If you can get one of them on your show, who would it be? Hilary or Trump?
Christensen: It’s gotta be Trump.
Jaycox: Trump. There’s too much material. We’ve done stuff with Trump.
Christensen: They’d asked me a while back to be on and then Rafe was on. Josh McNew(STL Up Late director) shot a lot of their stuff.
Jaycox: I’d met Chris at Helium when he judged a contest there recently.
Buffa: What’s the harshest part of producing comedy and chasing this dream? The sacrifices.
Jaycox: You have to have a day job. I don’t know anyone just doing comedy. You have to do a day job, have a social life, and do comedy. Trying to fit more time into comedy.
Buffa: You have to commit energy to it.
Jaycox: That’s exactly right. I knew I had a show so I had to reserve my energy. You can’t go out late. You have to save energy.
Buffa: You run into an aspiring young comic. What’s the first thing you tell him?
Jaycox: Don’t listen to anyone. Listen to yourself. Don’t worry about trying to be someone else. It’s hard enough being yourself. Whatever you’re inspired by, do it.
Christensen: Start creating. Don’t worry about the next step. Put your stuff on paper and start recording. Start making something and it will take off.
Jaycox: A great quote I heard is “you don’t have to be great to start. You have to start to be great.” Just get out there and start. It’s an immediate fail or pass on stage in front of an audience. If you are more determined than anyone else, you’ll make it.
Buffa: What’s the pre-show routine?
Christensen: We will run scripts. Dry rehearsal. Block them out. Dress rehearsals are next. I’m writing the moment I wake up until I get to the theater. Focus on the scripts.
Jaycox: I try to be as present as I can. If I’m thinking about the next thing, that takes a toll. If I’m in the moment, things go well. You can tell when any of us aren’t present.
In order to make it in comedy, you have to give a shit. Every day. Every time on stage. A message that is re-affirmed when you talk to Jaycox and Christensen about their work. They do it for the love of the game and the hope that the road leads to bigger and better things.
Watching STL Up Late, you see all the hard work and sacrifice come together on stage. It’s a living breathing thing. See how hard these guys work to create original unfiltered comedy now that you know their story.