Jesse Joyce is a comic first: He told his local Ohio newspaper at age 11 that his “favorite thing in the world is to tell a joke,” and by age 17, he was performing stand up.
But Joyce, 36, is also a writer – one with an impressive list of clients: Seth McFarlane, Chris Rock, Dave Attell, Matt Lauer, Jim Norton and the late Greg Giraldo, among others.
Here’s an interview with Joyce, who is performing at Helium Comedy Club from Thursday through Sunday.
Question: Your writing credentials are pretty impressive. Is that how you’ve established yourself in the comedy industry?
Answer: I didn’t set out for it to happen that way at all, but it what has happened. I’m not really a writer. My resume says I am, but I’m really more of a comic. The caliber of dude that keeps asking me to write for them has bolstered my street cred. I’ve jockeyed myself into a cool position. I get to turn down writing jobs all the time, because it’s something I can do while I’m doing standup. I get to pick who I write for, which is nice. Nothing against this guy, but Pauly Shore wrote to me and asked if I would write stuff for him. I was like, “Sorry, can’t.” I’m not interested in doing that. The cool thing is I get to work exclusively with guys I think are genuinely funny.
Q: What’s your writing process?
A: My writing process has changed dramatically because up till 29 days ago, it involved lots of cigarettes. But I just quit smoking. Not it’s a lot of chomping on nicotine gum and vaping in a hotel room. With a lot of stuff I work on, I can do it on the road. Right now, I’m in a suburb of Walla Walla, Washington, and I’m writing material (for Jim Norton) for a roast of Terry Bradshaw.
Q: So what’s the angle on Bradshaw?
A: Obviously the No. 1 angle on him is he’s dumb. But I also feel like everybody’s going to hit what. What I think is (better) is he has a one-man show right now. He’s touring around the country, singing and dancing. The show is called “America’s Favorite Dumb Blonde.” Even he owns the dumb thing; it’s a little worn out. But how lame it is that you’re like a sad, 50-year-old bald dad doing a one-man show – I think that’s a better angle.
Q: What pushed you to quit smoking?
A: I quit drinking nine-and-a-half years ago, and when I did, I ratcheted up my smoking. I relied on the crutch of smoking for a while, and (realized) I can’t keep using this as a dumb excuse. There’s this app I got called Butt Out, and it’s amazing. It has a counter on it that shows how many people have died since you quit smoking. There’s an icon of a coffin, and it turns it into a competition with the world, which is exactly how I’m motivated. Whenever I feel like smoking, I just flip this app on and watch people die. That’s how many people I’ve beaten. It’s up to 380,000 people have died since I quit smoking 29 days ago.
Q: Is this part of your routine?
A: No, I wasn’t trying a bit on you, but I’ve been telling everybody about this app. I think it’s awesome. So inevitably that probably will end up on stage.