Interview: Jamie Kennedy Talks Acting, New Comedy Show ‘Stoopid Smart’June 3, 2020
Recently we had the chance to talk to comedian Jamie Kennedy about his career, including acting, being part of the Scream franchise, and his new stand-up comedy show Stoopid Smart.
So did you always want to get into the entertainment business in some way or did that interest develop over time?
Jamie: When I was fifteen I had this teacher, he did stand up in a local club in Philly, I had no idea what that was at the time. He did voices, then I’d imitate the voices he did, realized I could do voices and from there it was like, hey, maybe I could do this for a living. Yeah, I started getting the bug at fifteen, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do in that field, I just knew I didn’t want to have a regular job, you know what I’m saying?
You got into acting, which is not an easy career in terms of trying to make a living. What were the biggest challenges for you when you first started down this path?
Jamie: Just learning about, not knowing anything, trying to figure out what to do. I was willing to try anything, that’s how I got into comedy and acting. I was an extra, learned on the fly, just the ups and downs, the ebs and flows and as you do it one the biggest things you struggle with is not having any money and not really knowing where you are going.
Would you say landing the role in Scream was a turning point for you?
Jamie: Oh yeah, big time. It completely changed my career, honestly. I had gotten things up until that point, some big stuff, like guest spots on TV shows like Ellen, but Scream was this little engine that could, it completely shifted the game for me. Scream has become part of pop culture, It’s crossed over to attract so many different fans, not just horror.
When did the comedy part of your career start to take shape?
Jamie: Well I did start out as a comedian and an actor, I just got more hits as an actor out of the gate. I was still doing stand-up but I think when I did the Jamie Kennedy Experiment, after that, people started to see me in a different way. It was weird for people, seeing me do voices and sketches but they loved it and that’s when people started looking at me and I started to do a lot more stand up.
Do you remember your first stand-up comedy gig and was it a stressful or difficult experience?
Jamie: It wasn’t that hard, in fact, it was a very enjoyable experience. It was an open mike in a hotel lobby bar, it was a contest, and I came in second and won a bottle of champagne. I was too young, however, so they gave me a bottle of sparkling apple cider. So I thought ok, this isn’t hard, and then the next week I did another show at the Radisson and I bombed, so I thought ok, maybe I shouldn’t do this. I bombed a couple more times and stopped, thinking this wasn’t right for me and then as a glutton for punishment, something kept calling me back. I did another show and it was good, then they got worse and worse until I finally did one that I thought hey, that wasn’t bad and just built off of that.
If someone was interested in pursuing comedy do you think they should try stand up, work in front of a live audience, as actors do with theater?
Jamie: You know, I have no idea. (laughs) I’d get them to ask themselves, am I funny, do people tell you that all the time, because if they keep telling you over and over again, you should definitely think about pursuing it. I only did stand-up because people were like hey, you’re weird, you’re funny so I thought ok, I’ll try it but I didn’t k now it was a life choice. There are people that are going to try it and love it and want to do it but they need to be tenacious because the road is going to be very interesting. It’s going to be hard and you literally have to enjoy the road, it sounds cliché but it’s true.
You wrote an autobiography as well. How did that idea come about?
Jamie: I was doing my skits on TV, people liked that, my movies, my stand up album, they liked that and then the autobiography idea came about after I read George Carlin’s Brain Droppings. I thought you know, he’s another way to stretch myself, to tell stories and reach people that way, so I did.
Ok, so let’s talk about your new stand-up comedy show Stoopid Smart. Where did the idea and material come from to do this?
Jamie: A lot of it is just my life, things that have happened with me, what it’s like to be me, my experiences, my life. From there, I slowly go into different things, my take on things. It starts of gradually, fun, information, stupid then as it goes on it gradually gets more detailed and smarter.
What was the biggest challenge for you, doing a show like this?
Jamie: Oh man, getting it released. We thought of it, we did it, we worked on the material for a while but the biggest thing was finding the best distribution partner. Tubi really bought into it, I really like them, and they’ve done all my other stand-up stuff so I was really excited it was going to happen. There are going to be all these different platforms happening, this is an exciting one.
You’ve been doing stand- up for a while now. How have the audiences changed over the years?
Jamie: Well, right around 2017, people started taking jokes literally, stand-up comedy literally. People started saying they don’t like certain stuff which is ok but in a comedy club, anything goes in there and you enter at your own risk. It’s changed though, now people come in there and they don’t understand why we are talking about certain things, which is what those clubs are all about.
Do you like mixing things up, doing acting and comedy, or do you have a favorite medium to work in?
Jamie: I really like to mix it up. I like being on tour for three or four months, getting a new chunk of material, then if I get a movie I do that for three or four weeks. I will continue to mix it up, I love both, they both are really enjoyable to me.
Besides the new comedy special, do you have any other projects coming up?
I have a movie coming out I did with Bruce Dern and Cathy Moriarty called Crabs in a Bucket, don’t know when that will come out now but hopefully the fall. I started another movie as well that’s been pushed but right now I’m putting all my stuff together and waiting to see where this new world takes us.
I want to thank Jamie for taking the time to talk with us