Comedian Big Jay Oakerson has been earning rave reviews and getting noticed by his peers more and more. The co-host of Sirius XM’s “The Bonfire” with Dan Soder and the podcast “Legion of Skanks,” Oakerson had a hilarious weekend of shows the last time he was in Buffalo. He returns to Helium Comedy Club for five shows Feb. 23-25.
Question: Are you looking forward to coming back into town?
Answer: Yeah, actually I am. I’m coming back with Mike Finoia, who was with me there last time. It’s one of those clubs that I keep coming back and the crowds get a little bit bigger for me. Any club that gave me the chance to build my audience, along with my career outside of it, has been very cool.
Q: There are some comics that you can sense are telling written jokes from memory, but I was amazed during your last appearance here that your mix of material and conversations with the crowd was so engaging. Was that just a really good night for you or something you actively concentrate on?
A: I definitely focus on it. I just did an hour-long special, so I tried not to repeat anything from that. I’m also not a real “sit down and write” writer. I might have a few topics or so, and what I do is go out there and have it lead me into crowd work. I try to get as much as I can out of it, and if I feel it trailing, then I will go into the material. It also makes it a more fun weekend for the people, so they’ll come to multiple shows, and the staff. They have to hear it five times over the weekend, so if I can make them enjoy it a little bit, it’s kind of fun. I’ve seen wait staff roll their eyes and mouth the words to jokes they’ve heard a thousand times. For my own ego, I don’t want that to happen ever.
Q: It seems like every comedian has a podcast. Do you feel forced into starting your own or do you really enjoy it?
A: No, we actually started the podcast purely. What it’s grown to now is where we have a weekly place where we do it live with a big audience that shows up for it. We have a six-figure listenership for every episode now. When we started at my buddy’s house, we were huddled over an iPhone for 50, 60 episodes trying to figure it all out. It was definitely a thing that we thought would be fun to do, and it’s been a blast to do. As much as I love it, now it’s actually a responsibility and we have to get an episode out every week. It’s funny how there’s an element of work to it, but it’s still very fun. It’s the same thing with the radio show for Sirius XM.
With everyone’s schedule getting busy during the week, we don’t see each other except at the podcast, so we all catch up with each other too.
Q: Your daughter just started stand-up. Did you offer any advice?
A: Yeah she just did her first show. She had an interest in trying it so we signed her up to a comedy class. I’m not a big proponent of comedy classes, but when a 14-year-old girl told me she wanted to try comedy, it clicked for me, “Oh, that’s what a comedy class would be good for.” It was very fun. I gave her advice, but I didn’t help her with jokes at all. She didn’t want my help. I left her alone for that, but as a father, I was more nervous that she wouldn’t have fun at all. That she would be all fear and nerves, so I ended up getting crazy panicky and nervous. But she didn’t show it.
Where: Helium Comedy Club, 30 Mississippi St.
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 23, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Feb. 24-25
Cost: $15-$23 general admission. Dinner packages available.